“Intergenerational conflict”: a false and divisive narrative

EngAgeNet’s Peter Dale contends that Intergenerational conflict is a false and divisive narrative that prevents us from addressing the real issues in society


At the moment it really feels as though our society faces battles on every front: millions of us are struggling with the choice between heating and eating; our health and care services are in crisis; an epidemic continues to sweep the land. And, if all that weren’t enough, there is a pervasive and corrosive narrative that suggests the older generation are a drain on society and are being supported by younger people.

It hasn’t helped that the long-awaited additional funding for social care is to be paid for by increased National Insurance on working people, that house prices have become unaffordable for a huge swathe of younger people, or that many younger people made huge sacrifices to protect the vulnerable from the first ravages of the pandemic.

Our concern, as a collective of organisations which have long campaigned for a fairer and more equal society, is that this narrative of “young vs old” is being promulgated to distract us from the real issues which affect all generations: the underfunding of public services; too few houses being built; an unfair and regressive tax regime that hits lower paid people hardest; inflation rates that impact all generations; an underinvestment in sustainable energy; low pay and insecure employment; and an inadequate State Pension that will eventually inflict hardship on today’s younger generation.

Back in 2018, following a number of conversations with older people, we published “A New Narrative on Ageing”. This set out to challenge society’s negative attitudes towards older people by presenting clear evidence to refute a number of commonly-held assumptions that contribute to such attitudes becoming embedded in people’s perceptions of ageing: in particular, that older people are a “net drain” on our society.

Our belief was, and remains, that a better understanding of the realities of ageing will lead to better policies and decision making, and hence to better outcomes for the quality of life and well-being of older people. But the situation has moved on significantly in the four years since we undertook that research. The coronavirus pandemic in particular appears to have fostered ageism and created division between younger and older generations.

At the same time, it has exposed the reality and inadequacy of the social care system, particularly residential care. Now more than ever, therefore, it is vitally important to reinforce the case for a more positive view of older people and ageing.

In the light of the pandemic we have revisited our original findings and, far from any of them being resolved, the situation has markedly deteriorated. We believe that it is critical that we urgently look again at the issues that supposedly divide us because, we believe, only by gaining a better understanding of each other can we collaborate to find mutually beneficial solutions to the challenges that society faces.  So, we are seeking to reinterpret the messages contained in our New Narrative and to reflect on key issues affecting older people.  Our pamphlet, Intergenerational unfairness: myth or reality? (available on the link below) is the first in a series of such reflections.  What follows is a summary of this key issue told from the point of view of older people.

Discussions concerning intergenerational unfairness commonly cast older people as the ‘villains’, enjoying wealth and privilege, while younger people face difficulty and hardship.

Older people have thus far been reluctant to challenge the notion of intergenerational unfairness, wanting to avoid a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of competing for the title of who is worst off. However, the ageism experienced by older people during the pandemic requires a robust challenge to the propositions that:

  • Older people enjoy privilege at the expense of younger people;
  • Life for older people was much easier when they were young than it is for today’s younger generation;
  • Older people contribute little socially and economically to society while younger people shoulder the burden for their care

The reality for most older people is different:

  • The older you are, the more likely you are to have a low income; 18% (2.1 million) pensioners are estimated to be living in poverty;
  • Many older people live in poor, inappropriate housing, much of it in the private rented sector.
  • Many older people started work at a much younger age than today’s cohort and without the opportunities for education, and facing just the same barriers of sexism, racism and homophobia as experienced today.

We need to reject the notion of a binary argument: that it can only be the case that younger people struggle and that older people are privileged. We further need to reject the argument that the former is caused by the latter.

The real question perhaps is whether there is sufficient priority given to public sector investment that might mean that essential services such as education, health, and welfare benefits are not competing against each other. Underinvestment in public services and an economy that has created zero hours contracts and shrunk employment opportunities are perhaps more responsible than older people for the real problems faced by younger people.

Intergenerational division is also fuelled by the characterisation of older people as a ‘dead weight’ in society. The reality is that older people make vital social and economic contributions to society – many continue in employment (often because they cannot afford to retire) while millions more provide vital caring and volunteering.

Taking all these contributions together, older people were estimated to be making an annual net positive contribution of £40 billion to the UK economy (i.e., net of the costs of pension, welfare and health support). By 2030 the positive net contribution of older people was forecast to rise to an estimated £77 billion.

The pandemic has also reinforced assumptions about older people being responsible for pressure on NHS resources. However, in overall terms, growth in health spending is largely driven by technological change, such as medicines and surgical techniques. Moreover, millions of people of working age have a long standing illness or disability.

So, is there really a generational divide?

…and are the challenges being faced by one generation caused by the benefits enjoyed by the other?

These questions have been addressed in a research study which involved both younger and older people conducted by the Care, Emotional Health and Well-being Research Group of the University of Brighton and the South East England Forum on Ageing (SEEFA).

The results suggest that younger people themselves may not necessarily buy into the notion of intergenerational unfairness. The value of that research has been to demonstrate that seeking the views of older and younger people is a first step in establishing whether there is common ground between the generations and whether there is an appetite for an approach that unites the generations. Moreover, today’s younger people are tomorrow’s older people. If younger people are able to think about what they want their future to look like, it might help to build a better present for today’s older people.

If common ground rather than conflict exists, then the door is open for dialogue and interaction both of which are likely to produce greater mutual understanding and tolerance – the key to eliminating discrimination and prejudice.


Posted by Tony Watts

“An extended lockdown of over 70s will hurt the whole country – not just older people”

EngAgeNet, the national organisation representing grass roots forums of older people across England, has warned that extending the “lockdown” for a lengthy period based purely on age runs the risk of harming the economy, family life and the physical and mental wellbeing of seniors themselves.

Reports in a number of weekend newspapers suggest that over 70s face up to a further 18 months of tough restrictions under plans being drawn up by UK Government advisors, and leaders of regional older people’s forums across the country are joining together to voice their concerns about the unforeseen ramifications this could have.

“If this represents a policy that the Government is actually considering, then it is highly worrying – and we want to have our voices heard before any decisions are made,” says Peter Dale, Chair, Board of Trustees, South East England Forum on Ageing.

“While older people will obviously be keen to play their part in curbing the worst consequences of the pandemic, and we also recognise that statistically Covid-19 has a greater impact on older people than younger ones, it’s critical that some other major factors are taking into consideration.

“To start with, the ‘70’ benchmark is not a precise arbiter of who will be most prone to the more extreme impacts of the condition – and in itself is ageist: weight, gender and even ethnicity are also emerging as factors, but I don’t see anyone suggesting that overweight people, men and members of BAME should be subject to the same draconian rules.

“Older people play key roles in our society and a lengthy lockdown for them will damage the social fabric of our communities. Millions of people in their 70s and beyond are central to our institutions – to local government, school governance, the voluntary sector – as well as running essential local groups, caring for family members and friends and looking after grandchildren so that parents can go to work.

“To suppress that activism would have calamitous consequences for the contribution that older people make to society. And that’s before we get to how the ‘Silver Pound’ – older people shopping, using public transport, taking breaks and using leisure facilities – which makes a crucial contribution to the economy.

Adds John Welham, Vice Chair of the Yorkshire and Humberside Forum on Ageing: “There is a worrying assumption that prevails that all older people are frail and vulnerable, which clearly isn’t the case. Not only are people living longer but a great number of them are also leading active lives.

“Many are still working full or part time, or running businesses. Let’s not forget that Alan Sugar is 73, James Dyson is 72 and Richard Branson turns 70 in July – and that’s before we get to the famous musicians and actors well past threescore and ten.  Who’s going to tell them they should be in lockdown for the next 18 months?

“And presumably the 28 MPs currently over the age of 70 would have to be working as best they can from their own homes, as would a large percentage of the House of Lords.”

Liz Mandeville, Chair of East Midlands Later Life Forum, points to the long-term effects on the wellbeing of those in lockdown for an extended period: “We already have an epidemic of loneliness impacting negatively upon people’s health and – eventually – the NHS. Denying them the same level of active engagement as younger people once the pillars for safe relaxation of the ‘lockdown’ are in place runs the risk of increased physical and mental health demands in the future.”

So how does EngAgeNet believe any lockdown should apply to older people? “Of course, our first and most important duty is to ensure that we don’t become a burden on the NHS, but treating us as individuals rather than a simplistic ‘bloc’ of the population is critical,” says Tony Watts OBE, who chairs the South West Alliance on Ageing. “That means that once we get through the current ‘eye of the storm’, making sure that adequate testing and protective equipment is in place to allow us to continue contributing to society – the cost of which will be more than covered by the positive impact we can make on the economy.

“On top of that, those whose health conditions or advanced age means that they really do need an additional level of protection must have full support to weather out the lockdown in their own homes or care settings and still emerge in good physical and mental health at the end – especially those living alone.

“That means,” he says, “supplying digital equipment and support for some to help keep them connected to the outside world, and ensuring that they are well looked after for food and provisions – which is not happening universally at the moment.”

“We want to play our part in returning the country to normality,” concludes Chris Walsh, Chair of Positive Ageing in London, “and the positive reality is that most older people play key roles in society as workers, carers and volunteers. And we refuse to be discriminated against on the basis of age. We should all be able to leave our homes regardless of age – but only when there is really adequate PPE for the general public, full mass testing and tracking – not just promises.”


Press contact: Tony Watts OBE, 07738 167788 / [email protected]

Posted by Tony Watts

House of Lords launch for Mature Conversations report

Over the past year, members of EngAgeNet up and down the country have been running consultations on four key issues affecting the lives of older people:

■■ social care – what older people want and their attitude to funding;

■■ housing – what people need to remain in their own homes;

■■ employment and retirement – what is needed to ensure age friendly employment practices;

■■ technology – establishing how it can benefit older people and influencing its development.

The results were launched today (16 October 2019) at the House of Lords, and the findings represent a powerful and highly detailed picture of what older people in England really feel and think.

This publication identifies the need for a mature conversation about those aspects of ageing that require a collective social response, recognising that older people are part of the solution as well as part of the problem. Older people are net contributors to society, they play an active role in their families and communities – they work; they are carers; they are volunteers; they are anchor points in families, providing stability and enabling family members to go out to work; they are citizens with an equal voice, and their views on how they would wish to be treated should they lose their independence or become incapacitated, need to be listened to.

This was a pilot project, but there are now hopes of scaling up the exercise and collaborating with service providers as well as policymakers to look at specific issues in various parts of the country.

It is clear that the process described in this report has produced a series of key messages reflecting older people’s concerns, experience and views about the topics under discussion. We believe that this report provides evidence of the effectiveness of this method of engaging older people and in enabling them to have a say on issues that directly affect them.

Based on the success of this pilot study, our aim is to create an infrastructure that will enable mature conversations routinely to take place across the country – reflecting current and topical issues and ensuring that the views of older people are both given prominence in the formulation of policies and taken account of in the decision making processes that have in the past habitually excluded them.

EngAgeNet is in a unique position of tapping into the knowledge, lived experiences and ideas of hundreds of thousands of older people: a resource that we want to harness to improve lives and design better services.

To receive a hard copy of the report, email: [email protected]. But you can download a digital version by clicking onto the link below.

If you are an organisation that would like to find out how EngAgeNet could help you improve your policies, services or products, we’d be delighted to talk.


Posted by Tony Watts

Older people… what have they ever done for us?

Tony Watts OBE, Director of EngAgeNet, on why we need a new narrative on ageing


There are more of us than ever before – over 20 million aged 50 plus, some 11 million are 65 and over.

We are living longer than ever before.

And because more of us are living with chronic long-term conditions than ever before, we also represent a challenge to services such as health and care that keep us going.

We are also – in case no one has drawn this to your attention – drawing our pensions for longer than ever before.

However, what is also often forgotten when anyone brings up the “problem” of older people, the “challenges” they present to society, and the “burden” they represent, is that older people are also an asset. A resource that other generations rely on. Contributors to, not just takers from, society.

But that’s not the narrative that is most commonly heard.

All too often, they’re blamed as the demographic that spends all of our council tax on care.

The “lucky generation” that selfishly sits on the nation’s housing stock and forces younger people to rent their homes at exorbitant prices.

The old crusties who won’t retire when they’re supposed to and are taking jobs from younger people.

Who sets the agenda?

I could, if I was feeling controversial, point to the fact that children too could be portrayed as not contributing to society. They don’t work. They need nursing, feeding, clothing – and educating – but society quite rightly sees them as an asset, not a burden.

However, like all these things, how society perceives us is often driven through the narrow lens of the media, opinion formers and people who have an agenda – an agenda, it often appears – to separate different sections of society from each other when it’s only when society cooperates and pools its individual strengths that it functions to its full potential.

And that is the danger we currently face: that – through ignorance or malice – older people are routinely defined by what they take from society, and not what they give.

So we at EngAgeNet are trying to change that narrative, and telling anyone who will listen about how older people are an often neglected resource.

Contributing to society

Nearly half of older people are active volunteers, gifting 1.4 billion hours a year and making a massive positive difference to the lives of people of all ages.

1.2 million of those aged 65 and over are still working, paying tax and contributing to the economy, retaining valuable life skills which we pass on to younger people. And no, we aren’t keeping those younger people out of a job – that is a proven fallacy. Indeed, according to the Government’s own figures, if everyone worked one year longer, it would add 1% to the GDP.

2.25 million of us provide a total of some 54 million hours of unpaid care each week – not just looking after other elderly people but caring for grandchildren and enabling their children to work.

Even those requiring care are contributing – the care sector alone employs 1.6 million people and represents a £45 billion sector. We keep a lot of people in work!

And all that is ignoring the “softer” contribution we make to society when called upon to advise or mentor younger people.

So what are we doing to try and change the way older people are portrayed and perceived?

Attached is a document called “New Narrative on Ageing”, produced by the South East Forum on Ageing and EngAgeNet, and which aims to provide a template for a more positive view of ageing. Through this narrative we hope that the contribution made by older people and their value to society will become better understood.

Not only is it a necessary attempt to change deeply embedded social attitudes and influence policy, but it aims to help older people themselves become more confident about their own personal ageing journey and their place in society.

Why stereotyping needs to end

Like any group outside the social mainstream, older people are routinely stereotyped and are the subject of many false assumptions, simplistic generalisations and plain untruths. And, make no mistake, if you as an individual or as a group feel constantly denigrated and unvalued, then you can soon start believing it.

Across all generations we need a debate on ageing – a debate that is not just about today’s older generation.

We are all – if we are lucky – going to get older. So, this is also a debate about our own futures and to consider how we all prepare well for longer and more valued lives.

Continuing to see ageing as a social problem, the old narrative, gets in the way of creating the kind of change that would benefit people of all generations.

Dispelling the myths, exposing the untruths, creating a more balanced portrayal of ageing as part of life, will enable people to have a more hopeful view of their own ‘future ageing’, and hence to be more appreciative of older people generally.

Through sharing a more enlightened, a less fearful perspective view of ageing, people will think about their own future, how they might want that to look, and hence what might need to change right now.

This new narrative needs to be heard by all organisations and institutions whose decisions and actions affect people in later life: government, business, social commentators and the media in general.

EngAgeNet, the organisation I am part of, was set up to speak up for older people. But it was set up to speak up for all older people – including tomorrow’s.

New Narrative on Ageing:



Posted by Tony Watts in News

EngAgeNet launches a template for a more positive view of ageing

EngAgeNet has launched a revised and updated “New Narrative on Ageing” which aims to provide a template for a more positive view of ageing.

Through this narrative we hope that the contribution made by older people and their value to society will become better understood.

Not only is it a necessary attempt to change deeply embedded social attitudes and influence policy, but it aims to help older people themselves become more confident about their own personal ageing journey and their place in society.  Across all generations we need to recognise that a debate on ageing is also a debate about our own futures and to consider how we all prepare well for longer and more valued lives.

Why do we need a new narrative?

The demographic time bomb – it’s an all too familiar story: the notion that an ageing society is a major social and economic threat.  In this story older people are seen as dependent on working age people, make no contribution to and have little value in society.

Negative portrayals of older people are commonplace: the media is largely preoccupied with the assumed cost of ageing, reinforcing a view that older people are dead weight in society – non-productive beneficiaries of state largesse; at the same time, however, they are perceived as well off, and in the eyes of some social commentators responsible for both the housing crisis and youth unemployment.

Like any group outside the social mainstream, older people are routinely stereotyped and are the subject of many false assumptions and untruths.

Why does it matter?

How older people are perceived and the assumptions made about them are bound to influence society’s response to ageing.

Negative perceptions result in older people being ‘compartmentalised’ and regarded as having little value. Continuing to see ageing as a social problem, the old narrative, gets in the way of creating the kind of change that would benefit people of all generations.

What do we want a new narrative to do?

Our new narrative needs to speak to all generations.  Ageing is the FUTURE for us all, yet we tend to fear it, much as in past times what was not known was feared, and sometimes persecuted.

Dispelling the myths, exposing the untruths, creating a more balanced portrayal of ageing as part of life, will enable people to have a more hopeful view of their own ‘future ageing’, and hence to be more appreciative of older people generally. We need a more enlightened view of ageing, so that through a less fearful perspective, people will think about their own future, how they might want that to look, and hence what might need to change right now.

Who needs to listen?

This new narrative needs to be heard by all organisations and institutions whose decisions and actions affect people in later life: government, business, social commentators and the media in general.

You can read and download the new narrative by clicking here:A New Narrative on Ageing ePDF2Final

Posted by Tony Watts in News

“Don’t make rise in State Pension Age an intergenerational issue”

The Government’s decision to move forward the rise in pension age has made plenty of headlines, writes Peter Dale (Chair of the Board of Trustees, SEEFA), with the media again seizing on the opportunity to create inter-generational tension.

We perhaps ought not to be surprised by proposals to increase the age at which people become eligible for state pension in the future. Arguably it’s more of a surprise that it will have shifted so little by the time it is due to be implemented between 2037 and 2039, almost a century since the publication of the Beveridge Report in 1942.

In spite of recent reports that the increase in life expectancy is beginning to stall, there is surely no doubt that there have been vast improvements in the health and well-being of retired people since the immediate post war years and that today’s sixty something year olds bear little resemblance to their predecessors. It might not seem unreasonable, therefore, that there should be a delay in being labelled as an ‘old age pensioner’. Shouldn’t a more positive approach to ageing encompass the belief that people are ‘written off’ as old far too early?

There are of course questions to be asked. The motivation for the proposal is likely to be the £74 billion saving that will accrue as a result of the early implementation of the increase. The cost to the public purse of the state pension is never far away as an issue; always seen as a burden grudgingly to be borne, it provokes headlines about the ‘demographic time bomb’ and suggestions about the country not being able to afford supporting so many older people – forgetting of course that older people have contributed throughout their lives, and continue to do so, as taxpayers and consumers.

According to the Royal Voluntary Service’s Gold Age Pensioners report, 2011, older people make an annual net contribution of £40 billion to the UK economy (i.e., net of the costs of pension, welfare and health support) and by 2030 this is forecast to rise to an estimated £77 billion. Rather than being concerned about the so called state pension ‘bill’, we should perhaps be drawing more attention to the fact that the UK state pension is one of the lowest in Europe.

An increase in the SPA will of course create a financial pressure for many people to carry on working and hence there will be significant implications for the labour market. First, recruitment and retention practices will need to be fit for purpose to enable work opportunities to be available. Secondly, employers will need to adopt new approaches that maximise the value of an older workforce; this could involve creating new roles that draw on experience and expertise.

There are questions about the increased risk of ill health or lack of capacity that may prevent people from working for longer. There are also question about extending the length of time that people will have worked throughout their lives. These questions of course can be posed whether the SPA is 68 or 65.

How does the risk that faced manual workers approaching 65 in past decades compare with the risk their counterparts will face in twenty tears time as they approach 68? And will the pensioners of 2037 have worked any longer when they reach SPA than many of today’s pensioners who started work at age 16 or in some cases 14? Whatever the SPA there should be a clear recognition within the benefits system of the needs of those people who are unable to work but just short of the qualifying age to claim their state pension. As the NPC suggests, five years seems a reasonable period.

The main concern about the pension age announcement is the way in which it has been reported. The media again have seized on the opportunity to create inter-generational tension. The message has been that while current pensioners were able to retire at 65 (earlier for many women), today’s younger people are once again being ‘short changed’. Moreover, it has been reported that while pensioners have seen an increase in their income, younger people have experienced a fall in income in real terms. In general, the implication is that older people are very comfortably off at the expense of the younger generation.

The facts tell a different story. Most pensioners are on low incomes in spite of the triple lock and other benefits. Government figures for 2015/16 (Pensioner Income Series) show that their average weekly income is £296. Although the state pension has more recently seen year on year increases, two and a half percent of a low figure is still a low figure, and it bears repetition that the UK state pension is one of the lowest in Europe. It also bears repetition that older people are net contributors to the economy, not a drain on its resources. Furthermore they have contributed all their lives through taxation and national insurance contributions to the public purse from which their benefits are paid.

The narrative that the burden is being carried by the younger generation who are now going to suffer as a result of the proposed SPA increase is highly misleading and divisive. Age is an issue for us all. It is to be hoped that older people in the future will benefit from changing social attitudes and a more positive view of ageing. The 68 year olds of 2037 may wonder what all the fuss was about.

Posted by Tony Watts in News
Housing Manifesto launched by older people’s champions

Housing Manifesto launched by older people’s champions

“Ageing Well: a Housing Manifesto” has been launched by the Older People’s Housing Champions, a national network of older activists who support action by older people’s groups to improve housing and related services for an ageing population across England.

The emphasis of the manifesto is that by focussing on the housing needs of our ageing population there can be significant health and economic benefits – vindicating additional resources and funding in a number of key areas as well as demanding new thinking in some key areas.

The 10 “key asks” of the Manifesto are:

Improve existing homes for good ageing

The vast majority of people spend most of their later life in ordinary housing (not especially built for older people). Therefore:

  1. Home Adaptations assistance should be mandatory, delivered quickly, efficiently and be a core part of future integrated health, social care and housing systems.
  2. There should be nationwide provision of practical, affordable housing repair and adaptation services – including home improvement agencies and handyperson services for older people in all housing sectors.
  3. Small “healthy at home” grants or low cost loans for essential repairs and improvements (including heating systems) should be made available for disadvantaged older people, resulting in benefits both for individuals and
  4. Local authority house condition audits should be re-introduced alongside private sector housing renewal programmes to tackle disrepair and prevent existing housing stock decline.

Build new homes to meet the range of diverse needs in later life

An ageing society means we need more imaginative housing options for older people of all tenures, both mainstream and specialist housing.

  1. Build all ordinary housing for all ages – all new homes should be built to accessible standards and be suitable for further adaptation.
  2. Build more innovative mainstream housing of a design and size that is particularly suitable for later life.
  3. Build a wider range of specialist and supported housing for those with later life care and support needs.

Provide independent, impartial information and advice

Timely, integrated information and advice about later life housing, care and related finance (from a trusted, impartial source) enables older people to make well-informed decisions.

  1. A national source of independent, specialist, housing, care and finance information, combined with impartial local one-to-one advice and support, is urgently needed for older people, their carers and professionals.
  2. A register of accessible, adaptable housing would help people locate suitable homes quickly when their needs change.

Planning and engaging with older people

We need local housing strategies developed that place housing at the heart of health, care and wellbeing for older people.

  1. Older people – experts through experience – need to be engaged and involved in developing and delivering housing solutions for later life at all levels.

A download of the manifesto can be found here: Housing champions Housing Manifesto Final 2017

The Older People’s Housing Champions is a national network of older activists who support action by older people’s groups to improve housing and related services for an ageing population across England.

Posted by Tony Watts in News
New national organisation aims to be the “direct, positive voice of older people”

New national organisation aims to be the “direct, positive voice of older people”

A new national organisation has been formed, enabling the voices of older people across England to be heard directly by those who create the policies, strategies and services that affect their lives.

Launched at the House of Lords on 20th March, EngAgeNet (The English Age Network) immediately embraces local groups and activists with an estimated reach of over 300,000 older people. It is based on the long-established English Regional Forums on Ageing, which were set up in the wake of the 2009 Elbourne Report.

The Forums played a key role in the UK Forum on Ageing, which provided direct input into Government departments until it had its funding removed in 2016.

English Forums on Ageing have a long track record of collaborating with local, regional and national bodies to inform decision making. The new network builds on this to provide informed individuals across the country willing to take part in surveys, focus groups and facilitated meetings – providing a direct conduit for public, private and third sector bodies.

“We believe there is a huge role to be played in the current environment,” says Marjory Broughton, Chair of EngAgeNet “Many of the big challenges currently facing society – the crisis in the care system, a shortage of suitable housing, long term concerns over pensions, flexible retirement and a host of others – directly involve older people. We want to be part of the solution, not just to be seen as the ‘problem’.

“We are in an ideal position to harness the views, ideas and experiences of older people to inform the decision making process and make that happen.

“We are non political, we are run by and for older people and our members go right across the demographic spectrum.

“Our long-term relationships with local groups, forums and affiliates allow us to function differently from any other representative body to reach those whose voices are often ignored,” Marjory Broughton says. We can access the views and input of people across society with direct experience of ageing… of all political persuasions and from diverse ethnic, religious and socio-economic groups.

“This includes ‘hard to reach’ individuals and those not online.

“Moreover, we have a long history of providing constructive input into local and national government, as well as health and third sector bodies.”

While EngAgeNet is currently built on seven English Forms on Ageing, their ambition is to expand this substantially by welcoming other groups, forums and individuals who share their aims.

As well as enabling all levels of Government and public services to fulfil their equality obligations when developing policies in areas such as health, social care, transport, employment, benefits, housing and digital inclusion, EngAgeNet will help the business community address both “ageing workforce” issues and the needs and aspirations of older consumers.

There is also an opportunity for academic and think-tank researchers to access the diverse expertise, experiences, opinions and concerns of older people.

 Says Marjory Broughton: “We believe that if society is better informed about the value and contribution of older people, and more willing to draw on their experience and wisdom, there is a greater likelihood of much needed change in social policy and of a more ‘age friendly’ approach on the part of the business community.

“To achieve this, the way older people are represented and portrayed needs to be corrected – not least in some media which continue to oversimplify the issues facing an ageing society. We are committed to driving a narrative that will challenge the perception that ageing and longevity is a socio-economic problem and that people in later life are a burden on the rest of society.

“We believe EngAgeNet can contribute to a better understanding of the real implications of an ageing population in a changing society, recognising that ageing and longevity are intergenerational issues – offering opportunities as well as challenges.”

Press contact: Tony Watts 07738 167788 / [email protected]

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