It would be more than unfair to say that the government had run out of policy ideas to improve life for older people when we have recently seen publication of a new strategy for our ageing society and a green paper on the future funding of care.
Both are radical and ambitious. Some of the measures can be implemented swiftly; others such as a new way to pay for care will take several years to implement.
So taking the best of what has been announced and adding a sprinkle of other ideas, here are ten things that could be done for older people in the next ten months:
1) Complete the review of the default retirement age to enable people to carry on working beyond 65 if they want to.
2) Encourage employers to take on and keep staff in their 50s and 60s by an employment credit or National Insurance reduction.
3) Ensure that all pensioners get at least £130 a week to live on by launching a huge take-up campaign on pension credit.
4) Fund easily accessible independent advice before and after retirement on finance, housing and care.
5) Ensure speedy implementation of the Equality Bill’s measures to outlaw discrimination on the basis of age in the provision of goods and services.
6) Use the digital switchover to promote access to new technology and telecare to reduce isolation and help older people to keep in touch.
7) Help carers of older people stay in work by extending current tax exemptions on childcare vouchers to apply to care vouchers.
8) Help older people caring for another older person by enabling pensioners to claim carer’s allowance and promoting the council tax discount for carers.
9) Ensure every local authority offers a deferred payments scheme to help older people pay for care.
10) Improve housing and tackle crime by quick and affordable repairs and adaptations to older people’s homes.
These ten quick wins could help win older people’s votes. At the next general election half of the people who actually vote will be aged 60 or over, so there is a lot at stake.
The Government also rightly recognises that attitudes and expectations need to change across society about ageing and the role of older people. That unfortunately will take slightly longer than the next ten months.
Stephen Burke is Chief Executive of Counsel and Care, the national charity working with older people, their families and carers to get the best care and support.