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15 May 2014

Thursday 15 May

Children’s charities urge rethink on ageing society as new report calls for earlier action

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 (attached right), including Javed Khan of Barnardo’s, 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 ofthe 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 ILC-UK, Baroness Sally Greengross, and the Chair of the Commission on the Voluntary Sector and Ageing Lynne Berry.