MPs lobbied on anti-ageism laws

MPs will today meet with older people for a mass lobby of parliament ahead of the age discrimination law review.

Help the Aged is leading a lobby of over 250 older activists to meet with their representative in Parliament Square.

The Just Equal Treatment Mass Lobby aims to hold the government to its manifesto pledge to bring in new laws to protect people from discrimination. Campaigners want a ban on age discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services, as well as a positive duty on public bodies to promote age equality.

Ministers are set to launch a public consultation on planned anti-discrimination measures this spring and have verbally committed themselves to “creating a culture of zero tolerance” on unequal treatment based on age, race, gender or disability.

Help the Aged claims 73 per cent of Britons believe older people face discrimination and hails today’s action as a “landmark moment in the fight for age equality.”

Kate Jopling, the charity’s senior policy manager, said: “While positive duties to promote equality already exist for race and disability, and will soon come into force for gender equality, age discrimination remains the last acceptable form of discrimination – and that’s unacceptable.”

Equalities minister Meg Munn insisted the government is already “strongly committed” to tackling age discrimination.

Ms Munn explained: “We have prohibited it in employment and vocational training and are tackling it further in the provision of public services – for example, through the National Service Framework for Older People which has an explicit focus on tackling age discrimination in service delivery.

“The Discrimination Law Review will shortly be consulting on whether further steps are necessary.”

Actress Sylvia Simms is supporting the mass lobby and urged MPs to listen to the activists, pointing to the power of the ‘grey vote’. “We have the vote, and we will use it,” she told politicians.

Examples of age discrimination highlighted by the charity include; an upper age limit on prescription drugs, travel companies not insuring the over-75s, advertisements mocking older people to sell products, and bus drivers driving off without waiting for older people to sit down.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund also warned the government not to ignore its ageing population, pointing to the increasing pressures on public services.

Increasing healthcare costs for an ageing population will force the Treasury to raise taxes or cut spending, the Washington-based group warned.