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Employment: Older People

Volume 707: debated on Tuesday 3 February 2009


My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Pensions and Ageing Society (Rosie Winterton) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 22 May 2008 the Minister for Pensions Reform announced that John Elbourne had been asked to examine the current arrangements for the engagement of older people and the ability of those arrangements to inform policy and actions of government at all levels. Specifically, this was to include examining Better Government for Older People.

John Elbourne published his report on 18 November 2008 and the Government received comments up to 9 January 2009. The report made a range of recommendations for improving older people’s engagement with government, which fell into three broad areas: establishing a UK advisory forum for older people, building the capacity for effective dialogue at regional and local level through regional forums and local older peoples forums, and withdrawing funding for Better Government for Older People from 1 April 2009 to support the new government office arrangements and thereby increasing the funds available for on-the-ground activities.

The Government are today publishing their response to this report. The Government will establish a new UK-wide forum. The forum will be known as the UK Advisory Forum on Ageing, and will be co-chaired by the Minister for Pensions and the Ageing Society, and the Minister of State for Care Services. This will bring together representative views of older people at a national level, and will build links with forums in the devolved nations, the English regions, and the local level. The Government will set up a new structure with a designated regional co-ordinator for older people’s engagement in each English region, providing advocacy and co-ordination for older people and working with older people to set up regional forums on ageing and local forums where they do not already exist. This will build on existing arrangements for engagement with older people and address weaknesses in the current structure. These new arrangements will give older people a direct line into government at a local, regional and national level.

Better Government for Older People’s response to John Elbourne’s review has been to develop a proposal for a new independent body to carry forward its aims. The Department for Work and Pensions will support it in making a smooth transition into this new phase.

The Government’s response can be found at www. _eng_with_govt.asp and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.