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New report: Early Action in later life

15 May 2014

New report: Early Action in later life

As the Early Action Taskforce, led by Community Links, launches its new publication Looking Forward to Later Life, major children’s and youth charities have urged the government to rethink its approach to the UK's ageing society.

The signatories to a joint letter (below) including, Matthew Downie of Action for Children and Anne Longfield of 4Children, argue that our experience in youth and middle age determines wellbeing in later life. It is ‘too late’ to wait until we are old to tackle the big challenges facing older people.

They write: “One in three babies born today will reach 100 years old. Yet the approach of successive Governments to our ageing population has mirrored the approach of many individuals: disjointed, head in the sand, afraid to look too far ahead.

“To thrive in old age they will need a supportive childhood, a great education, a well-paid career, opportunities to contribute to their communities, secure savings, a healthy lifestyle throughout life, access to good support and social networks.”

The letter marks the launch of Looking Forward to Later Life, written by Will Horwitz on behalf of the Early Action Task Force. Its chair David Robinson said:

Why wait for trouble when we could prevent it? Taking action in youth and middle age will yield a triple dividend – thriving old age in which we cost the state less and contribute more.”

“Government must start to plan ahead, for example by:

  • Tackling health problems, obesity and smoking in middle age to save money on expensive healthcare in old age
  • Making it easier for middle aged and older people to keep working and earning good wages, to ensure everyone has enough to live on.
  • Investing in Ready Institutes in every neighbourhood to help people make the transition into later life.”

Other signatories to the letter – which has received support from charities across the age range - include the former Chief Executive of Age Concern, now head of the International Longevity Centre-UK, Baroness Sally Greengross, and the Chair of the Commission on the Voluntary Sector and Ageing Lynne Berry.

Full Text of Joint Letter on our ageing society
Published Thursday 15th May The Guardian

One in three babies born today will reach 100 years old. Yet, as the Early Action Task Force’s report Looking Forward to Later Life published today shows, the approach of successive Governments to our ageing population has mirrored the approach of many individuals: disjointed, head in the sand, afraid to look too far ahead.
As they grow up and grow older many of these children will use our services: between us we work on behalf of thousands of children, young people, and adults of all ages throughout the UK.

To thrive in old age they will need a supportive childhood, a great education, a well-paid career, opportunities to contribute to their communities, secure savings, a healthy lifestyle throughout life, access to good support and social networks.

And all of this before they reach old age, at which point it might be too late: it is not easy to prepare for later life when we are already old, we can just manage the consequences of what has come before.

We urge government to join us in creating a bold, ambitious, long-term vision for our ageing society. It would take in pensions and social care, but also education and housing, mental and physical health, work and volunteering.

As individuals, and as society, we must learn to look forward to later life. As the Commission on the Voluntary Sector and Ageing has said: it should be an Age of Opportunity.

Yours sincerely
Jane Ashcroft, Chief Executive, Anchor
Lynne Berry, Chair, Commission on the Voluntary Sector and Ageing
Geraldine Blake, Chief Executive, Community Links
Stephen Burke, Director, United for All Ages
Anna Coote, Head of Social Policy, nef
Hilary Cottam, Principle Partner, Participle
Matthew Downie, Head of Campaigns & Public Affairs, Action for Children
Liz Emerson, Co-founder, Intergenerational Foundation
Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive, NCVO
Rosie Ferguson, Chief Executive, London Youth
Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive, ILC-UK
Javed Khan, Chief Executive, Barnardo’s
Sara Llewellin, Chief Executive, Barrow Cadbury Trust
Anne Longfield, Chief Executive, 4Children
Janet Morrison, Chief Executive, Independent Age
Professor Paul Palmer, Cass Business School, City University London
Professor Anne Power, LSE
David Robinson, Chair, Early Action Task Force
Caroline Slocock, Director, Civil Exchange
Baroness Debbie Stedman-Scott, Chief Executive, Tomorrow’s People
 

NB the signatories to the letter do not necessarily endorse the recommendations in the report.