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Government urged to protect older people

As the consultation period for the Government's Discrimination Law Review comes to an end, new research shows four out of five older people in the UK want an outright ban on age discrimination.

According to leading older people's charity Help the Aged, the equivalent of nearly 10.5 million people aged 60 and over think ageism in services should be illegal.

Older people face a barrage of age discrimination daily and nearly two-thirds (63%) feel the government is not doing enough to combat it. As part of its Just Equal Treatment (JET) campaign to put ageism on an equal footing with racism and sexism, Help the Aged is calling for the Single Equality Bill to include a ban on age discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services, including health and social care services. The Charity also wants the public sector equality duty extended to include age so older people's needs are taken into account in public services.

The new research for Help the Aged also found that 51% agree health professionals dismiss symptoms as just old age while 53% believe there is little dignity for older people in hospital or care homes. One in 10 people aged 60 and over have been spoken to in an ageist way.

Kate Jopling, head of public affairs at Help the Aged, says: "It's high time the government stopped dragging its heels and took an active role in fighting age discrimination. Ageist attitudes and practices are a daily blight on older people's lives, affecting the type of care they receive, the insurance options available to them and even the way they are spoken to.

"We live in a society where racism and sexism are not tolerated, yet age prejudice is tolerated and even accepted in goods, facilities and services. Age is the only equality group left without legislative protection. This is a gross inconsistency, and very short sighted when you consider that older people are active voters and the fastest growing population group.

"Prejudice and unfair treatment eventually wears people down. The incredibly sad trend identified by this research is that the older people get, the more they seem to accept age discrimination as the norm. This cannot be allowed to continue. The government must take responsibility for protecting older people for years to come; age discrimination must be made illegal immediately."

Help the Aged