Liberal Democrats

F33: Age Ready Britain

This motion and the accompanying policy paper substantially develop and update policies on adapting to the opportunities and challenges of an ageing society. In particular they develop new policies on recognising the vital role of carers by offering a £250 ‘Carers Bonus’ paid annually by 2020; increasing the carers allowance earnings disregard from £100-£150, allowing carers to keep more of what they earn; reforming pensions so that the current ‘triple lock’ indexation is made permanent through law; requiring the OBR to report annually to Parliament its assessment of the intergenerational implications of pensions, taxation, retirement ages, demand for health and care services; integrate public health considerations into planning policies to ensure that new buildings supports the goals of making our towns and cities age friendly; and making ‘wellbeing’ a specific goal of government in
general and the NHS and education in particular. The motion and policy paper draw significantly on the quality of life approach previously outlined in policy paper 102, A New Purpose for Politics: Quality of Life (2011).

The last comprehensive statement of policy on ageing is policy motion Meeting the Third Age Challenge (2004). The last comprehensive statement of policy on pensions is policy paper 67, Dignity and Security in Retirement (2004). Specific policies can also be found in the 2010 general election manifesto Change That Works For You, and policy motions Dignity at Home: Transforming Home Care (2013) and Public and Private Sector Pensions (2012).

F33: Age Ready Britain (Ageing Society Policy Paper)

(Passed with Amendment 1)

Conference notes that:

I. We are living longer, and how societies adapt to being 'older' is one of the defining challenges of the 21st Century. 

II. Globally societies are having to adapt to the longer lifespans human ingenuity have made possible; by the end of the century practically every nation on earth will have made the journey.

III. Liberal Democrats take an optimistic view of ageing and the opportunities it presents.

Conference further notes that in government Liberal Democrats have been responsible for:

A. Major reforms in adult social care and pensions.

B. Breaking the deadlock on care finances by implementing the Dilnot Commission cap on catastrophic care costs.

C. Overhauling pensions to provide a flat-rate basic state pension, auto-enrolment and fairer access to pension savings.

Conference resolves to ensure that a holistic approach is taken that recognises ageing is about all of us, our future selves and how we want society to adapt to reflect the profound change that longer lives represent.

Conference therefore endorses policy paper 122, Age Ready Britain, and its policy proposals based on the key principles set out below.

1. Promoting wellbeing is central to creating resilient, thriving and sustainable communities and identifying and tackling the causes of intra-generational inequalities; in particular conference welcomes proposals for:

a) Making wellbeing a specific goal of government in general and the NHS and education in particular.

b) Promoting age-friendly communities.

c) An evidence based national wellness programme with Health and Wellbeing Boards leading local partnership work to develop wellness services.

d) Local action to identify and address social isolation and loneliness.

e) Encouraging local government to provide access to community services by telephone, to address social isolation caused by lack of local or home access to the web.

2. The economics of ageing requires an understanding of the income, wealth, health status, educational attainment, gender, ethnic and geographical inequalities within each generation that are likely to determine how well we age; in particular conference welcomes proposals for:

a) Recognising care services as a key part of our economic infrastructure.

b) Reinventing retirement as a 'process' not an 'event'.

c) The introduction of mid-life career reviews.

d) The Office for Budget Responsibility to report annually to Parliament on intergenerational equity.

e) The Treasury to review the impact of longevity risk on the functioning of financial markets including a cost-benefit analysis of longevity bonds.

3. Valuing Carers. Liberal Democrats believe we need to see a shift in how families are supported to balance growing eldercare responsibilities with busy working lives; in particular conference welcomes proposals for:

a) A £250 'Carers Bonus' paid annually towards extra costs such as taking a break by arranging for respite care; we would set this at £125, aiming to double it to £250 by 2020.

b) Carers who need additional flexibility to care for a close family member to have up to 5 days of paid additional 'care leave' a year.

c) The NHS to have a legal duty to identify carers.

d) An NHS 'carers passport' scheme to inform carers of their rights in the NHS.

e) A carer's return to work programme.

f) Every government department to model good practice in support for carers.

4. Pensions reforms will boost savings and lift millions of people out of inadequate retirement incomes; in particular conference welcomes proposals for:

a) The 'triple lock' indexation of the state pension to be made law.

b) The principle of auto-enrolment to be extended by increasing the contribution made towards a pension every time an employee receives a pay rise.

c) A 'pot-follows-member' policy so that small pension pots are no longer left 'stranded' when people change job.

d) People to have access to good quality independent face-to-face guidance including a health and wealth 'resilience score'.

e) Withdrawal of Winter Fuel Payments and Free TV Licences for higher rate taxpayers.

f) The retention of the concessionary bus travel scheme for pensioners. 

5.  Housing and the environment. Accessible, warm, decent housing enables people to remain living well and independently. The physical and social environment around where we live impacts on how we live and our sense of identity; in particular conference welcomes proposals for:

a) Strengthening the Housing Strategy for England to meet the needs of an ageing population.

b) Local authorities to pilot ways of delivery low or no cost help with right-sizing moves.

c) Public health considerations to be integrated in planning policies to ensure that the built environment supports the goals of making our towns and cities age friendly.

d) National Planning Practice Guidance and Local Plan guidance to make clear the benefits of safe and attractive streets and open spaces.

e) Allow older people currently claiming housing benefit who move in with someone else to keep a portion of that benefit, to encourage better use of our existing housing stock.

f) Assist older people on lower incomes make a planned move we will make the purchase stamp duty free for people in receipt of pension credit.

6. Health and Care is co-ordinated around the individual to ensure that people receive the right care at the right time in the right place; in particular conference welcomes proposals for:

a) The NHS to match the best of Europe on dementia diagnosis rates and care.

b) The UK to become the global leader in dementia research, doubling the research spend to £132 million by 2020.

c) Free end of life social care for those placed on their local end of life register.

d) All patients in receipt of NHS care to be issued with a 'care footprint' to raise awareness of the cost of care and empower people. 

e) General Practice Federations and Networks to be supported to scale up.

7.  Making Britain Age Ready. There is no single action or policy that will prepare the UK for an ageing society - it requires a co-ordinated approach across many areas of public policy to create an age-friendly nation; in particular conference welcomes proposals for:

a) A Cabinet Committee on wellbeing and ageing to be established and chaired by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

b) A Minister for Ageing.

c) A statutory independent Older People's Commissioner.

d) Realising the potential of Health and Wellbeing Boards as the engine of increased integration of public services by strengthening their capabilities and capacity.

e) Action to address elder abuse whether at home, hospital or in a care setting.


Applicability: England only, except 2 d) and e) (lines 39-43), 3 a) and b) (lines 48-52), 4 (lines 59-71) and 7 a) and b) (lines 105-107) which are Federal.


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