Members of parliament from across the political divide have called for the creation of a dedicated minister for older people to better represent the interests of the older generation in policy making.
Conservative MP for Portsmouth North Penny Mordaunt, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ageing and Older People, said such a posting would give “a political voice to the older generation”.
A minister for older people would also oversee the co-ordination of services which affect the older generation and focus on tackling the social and economic challenges of demographic change, she said.
Ms Mordaunt made the proposal following the launch of a petition by care home provider Anchor calling on the government to appoint a minister for older people, which gained 140,000 signatures.
“Evidently older people are a very diverse bunch with needs and problems which fall within the remit of many departments,” said the MP.
“Just like everyone else then, except that too often policy is focused on the needs of that stereotype older person.”
A dedicated minister could also help protect the rights of older people, including protecting them from workplace discrimination, in the same way ministers already do for some other minority groups.
Margot James, Conservative MP for Stourbridge, told MPs: “We already have ministers with specific responsibilities for women, children, people with disabilities – and the minister for women is also minister for equalities.
“Although that has included older people in terms of discrimination in the workplace, the equalities brief is primarily focused on ethnic minorities, gay and transgendered people. If these five demographic groups are represented at ministerial level, why are older people not so represented?”
The proposals have also gained support from members of other parties, including Labour MP for Bolton West Julie Hilling.
“As soon as we mainstream an issue and make it everybody’s responsibility, we lose focus and end up with nobody really doing anything,” she said.
“We too often see older people as problems, not as members of society with the same hopes and fears as everyone else.”