11/01/2010

Govt Pledges To Tackle Ageism

Equality Secretary Harriet Harman has said discrimination against older people is a serious problem that must be "tackled at the highest levels".

The increase in the number of well, older people demands a change in public policy, said Ms Harman.

She said the UK must recognise the emergence of the 'wellderly' and the role that well, elderly people play in their families, in the economy and in society.

Government officials said the notion someone is 'past it' when they reach 65 is 'outdated'.

Ms Harman also cited the "endemic ageism" towards women in the media must be "consigned to history".

Speaking at an Age Concern and Help The Aged conference in central London, Ms Harman said: "We still have more to do to tackle the attitude that once you reach 60 you are just treading water until you become frail and dependent.

"This is important not just for those individuals concerned but for the economy as a whole. We have to banish the ageism in the workplace that costs an estimated to cost the economy up to £31 billion per year due to lost GDP."

She described ageism against older women in the media as a "serious problem".

"While the broadcast media finds it possible to value the older man as having experience and wisdom they don't seem to be able to value the older woman in the same way," she said.

"This is a problem that we are determined to tackle at the higest level, which is why our Equality Bill reinforces this Government's commitment to ending age discrimination wherever it arises."

The Equality Bill, which enters committee stage in the House of Lords today, will strengthen the law when it comes to older people by providing new legal protection and banning age discrimination on products such as travel insurance and loans.

(PR/BMcC)

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