Age UK Charity Director Michelle Mitchell comments on the three main parties' manifestos.


In response to Labour’s manifesto published 12.04.10‚ Michelle Mitchell‚ Charity Director for Age UK said:

“Four new announcements on employment‚ state pensions and healthcare‚ in addition to the recent commitment to a national care service will bring considerable benefits for older people. Yet despite warm words about helping society adapt to the demographic shift‚ Labour still needs to do a lot more to turn the rhetoric into practical policies to improve later life. 

“The party has missed a crucial opportunity to tell older voters how it will make progress on areas such as health‚ housing and age-friendly communities to enable older people to continue to play an active role in society. Alongside tackling social care‚ any future Government must also grasp the nettle on warm homes and pensioner poverty if they are serious about winning the grey vote.

“Labour today scored 8 out of 18 for progress against the key priorities outlined in Age UK’s election manifesto.” 

What are the key commitments to older people Labour has made in their manifesto?

In response to the following commitments‚ Michelle Mitchell said:

Re-linking state pension with earnings

“With one of the lowest state pensions in Europe‚ the commitment to re-linking pensions with earnings by 2012 will help combat pensioner poverty and the disparity in income between working and retired people.”

Default Retirement Age and flexible working

“The Government has strengthened its stance on ending the unfairness of the Default Retirement Age today‚ by committing to end compulsory retirement at 65.  But older workers will still have to wait until the long awaited review of the legislation before they are judged on their ability to do the job‚ rather than their age.”

“As people are living longer and healthier lives‚ the retirement cliff edge which people used to face has no place in today’s society. The right to flexible working will be welcomed by many older people who want to retire gradually‚ as well as helping the 2.8 million with caring responsibilities.” 

Reform of the GP contract to help ensure depression and anxiety in later life is diagnosed and supported

“With one in four older people – two million over the age of 65 – living with depression‚ the charity has campaigned to improve diagnosis of depression among GPs.  This commitment should reduce the incidence of depression and help older people lead more fulfilling‚ happier lives.”


In response to the Conservatives’ manifesto published 13.04.10‚ Michelle Mitchell‚ Age UK Charity Director said:

“Older people will be surprised to find the Conservatives have remained silent about the specific issues concerning older voters and shied away from tackling the challenges of an ageing society. There’s much in their manifesto to encourage fit‚ active and engaged older people to contribute to society‚ but little new support for those who need help and protection.

“Voluntary insurance to pay for care at home‚ the possibility of abolishing the Default Retirement Age and the protection of existing age-related entitlements are modest steps forward. The Tories’ manifesto fails to address the big challenges facing our ageing society on care‚ health‚ poverty and warm homes.

“The Conservatives today scored 5 out of 18 for progress against the key priorities outlined in Age UK’s election manifesto.” 

What are the key commitments to older people the Conservatives have made in their manifesto?

In response to the following commitments‚ Michelle Mitchell said:

Health & Social Care

“Voluntary insurance to pay for care with the possibility of a top-up to cover the cost of home care is fine for the people who can afford it but falls well short of a solution to the funding crisis facing the care system. There are no new announcements to equip the NHS to cope with an ageing society.”

Re-linking state pension with earnings

“The Conservatives’ pledges to protect existing age-related entitlements and increase the basic state pension in line with rising living standards will provide reassurance‚ but the party failed to say when the earnings link will be restored.
“Fast-tracking the planned increase to state pension age to fund these pledges is not a viable option‚ as women and the poorest will be hit the hardest.”

Reviewing the Default Retirement Age

“Hundreds of thousands of older workers who face forced retirement in the near future will welcome the Tories’ pledge to ‘look at how to abolish the Default Retirement Age’. We now need a clear commitment to scrap this unfair and outdated piece of legislation.”

The ‘Green Deal’

“Giving every household a loan to improve the energy efficiency of their home – paid off through savings on fuel bills – will not prioritise the millions of older people in fuel poverty. The manifesto lacks a clear and comprehensive strategy to address the worsening problem of fuel poverty and the rising number of winter deaths.”

Human Rights

“We will oppose plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a UK Bill of Rights if this leads to any reduction in the level of protection currently afforded.”

Lib Dem

In response to the Liberal Democrats manifesto published 14.04.10‚ Michelle Mitchell‚ Age UK Charity Director‚ said:

“This manifesto clearly shows the Liberal Democrats have got to grips with many of the problems people in later life experience with innovative and thoughtful policies.

“But this positive work is undermined by the party’s failure to provide any concrete proposals on how they will tackle social care – the biggest social policy issue for the next parliament. 

“Creating an Independent Commission without a clear statement on policy direction will do little more than delay facing up to the challenge of fixing the crumbling care system. The only firm proposal on the table is to scrap the Personal Care at Home Bill‚ but it’s not clear what will replace it. This is a missed opportunity when older voters say social care is one of their top concerns.

“The Liberal Democrats today scored 6 out of 18 for progress against the key priorities outlined in Age UK’s election manifesto.” 

What are the key commitments to older people the Liberal Democrats have made in their manifesto? 

In response to the following commitments‚ Michelle Mitchell said:


“The Liberal Democrats have shown real commitment to people in later life by proposing to scrap the Default Retirement Age immediately. Yet they have failed to back up this strong move with a clear strategy on increasing employment opportunities for older workers and getting unemployed over 50s back to work.”

Raising pensions and the income tax threshold

“We whole-heartedly welcome the pledge to immediately re-link basic state pension with earnings – with a guaranteed minimum up-rating of 2.5 per cent – and increase it to the level of Pension Credit over time.

“While the majority of pensioners already have incomes too low to be taxed‚ raising the income tax allowance will be welcomed by older tax payers on modest incomes.

“The manifesto also puts forward proposals to reform pension tax relief. We support the need for reform to provide a fairer system with better incentives to save for those on low and modest incomes.”

Fuel poverty

“Tackling fuel poverty requires a multi-pronged approach and the package of measures put forward by the Liberal Democrats is a step in the right direction.

“The combination of loans for home improvement paid off through savings on fuel bills‚ lower costs for the first units of energy used and a system of social tariffs available to those on lower incomes could potentially benefit many older households in fuel poverty.

“The extension of Winter Fuel Payments to people with severe disability will be welcome by many‚ but the new eligibility criteria will penalise those people aged 60 to 64 who fail to claim Pension Credit or just miss out on it.”