This was the sixth in a series of 10 'Listening to older people' events, which have had a big impact across the country so far, as older people have told ministers what issues matter to them. Today's event focused on local government, communities and how society's most experienced can contribute through voluntary work.
The views of older people attending will be drawn on by ministers to help them decide priorities and shape policies to meet the needs of older people.
Housing, planning and London minister Nick Raynsford teamed up with lord chancellor's parliamentary secretary Keith Vaz to host the day-long event. He stressed that listening was the main aim of the scheme and as part of that, new research on older people's attitudes and aspirations would be published next month.
'My Department deals with two key issues affecting older people - transport and housing. Within transport we have announced plans for minimum travel concessions for pensioners and regulations to ensure transport is accessible to disabled and older people.
'Within housing, we are developing a strategic policy for housing and older people, ensuring planning looks at safety, security, accessibility and mobility and making sure providers maximise efficiency, value and choice. Initial priorities include reducing the number of people aged 75 and over living in poor housing, reducing
the numbers living in fuel poverty and improving housing services.'
Mr Vaz said: 'Listening is important if we are to deliver the right changes. The listening event will help us to decide what needs to be done and shape our policies to meet the needs of older people.'
Sally Greengross, secretary general of the UK secretariat for the international year of older persons, said:
'The international year is all about empowering older people and giving them the chance to have a say in the future. We are delighted that so many ministers are involved in this programme and are hearing first hand about the concerns of older people across the UK.'
The government programme is designed to build on the 'building a better Britain for older people' consultation process which closed in April, and to make a major contribution to the UN Year of Older Persons.
Information on the DETR initiatives mentioned can be found on the DETR Web Site, http://www.detr.gov.uk
The programme of upcoming Listening Events is as follows:
NIACE, Liverpool Listening to Older 11 October 1999
Southampton City Council Issues for Older People 18 October 1999
& Meridian Broadcasting
Help the Aged, Cornwall Rural Issues 25 October 1999
Scottish International Strategy for Older People 19 November 1999
Year Committee, Aberdeenshire
Stephen Timms launched a virtual listening event internet site in May. The internet site allows older people to 'chat' to each other about issues of concern to them and make their views known to government ministers. The site is operational until the end of the year. The internet address is: www.babyboomerbistro.org.uk
4. As part of the UN Year of Older Persons, the prime minister held a reception for older people at Downing Street on 14 June.
5. The listening events are part of a range of different activities being held in the UK to mark the International Year of Older Persons 1999. Other core projects include a photographic exhibition and competition; a life long learning project; a press audit and World Wide Walk events.
6. For further information on other International Year of Older Persons 1999 core events, please contact Sarah Berger, Manager of the UK Secretariat, on tel: 0181 765 7298/7554 or 0385 535 506, or http://www.dss.gov.uk