Headlines: July 6th, 2010

Local government leaders are facing a call for a radical rethink of their approach to issues of aging as they face the challenge of meeting the increasing needs of an aging society against a background of pressure on their budgets. The call has come from Age UK in a manifesto urging a step-change to local policies and services for people in later life.

The document has been produced in response to the current financial climate and with local public sector bodies and their partners tackling more devolved powers and tightened budgets. The charity said although protecting crucial sectors such as social care would be imperative, the economic situation would mean doing things differently with more involvement of older people in decision-making, more preventative action and more collaborative working.

Age UK wants local public bodies to prepare for the 2011 public sector equality duty, protect social care provision from spending cuts and to maximise benefit take-up and fight fuel poverty. It is also calling for local NHS resources to be redeployed to public health, prevention, community healthcare and social care and it wants a commitment to the creation of age-friendly services and public spaces.

Belinda Wadsworth, strategy adviser for Age UK, which was formed by the combination of Age Concern and Help the Aged, said local leaders were facing a formidable challenge. “Rising to it and ensuring quality services for people in later life will require bold and brave leadership.”