DWP official: Ageing strategy ‘has not been breakthrough success’

The government’s 2005 strategy on ageing, Opportunity Age, “hasn’t been the big breakthrough success people hoped for”, a civil servant has said.

Department for Work and Pensions official Stephen Balchin made the admission at last week’s conference on early intervention and prevention in adult services, organised by Community Care, the Department of Health and the Social Care Institute for Excellence.

The cross-government strategy was designed to prepare the UK for the ageing society, by promoting older people’s employment, well-being and contribution to the community.

Less focus on promoting decent life

However, in July, the DWP announced it would revise the strategy.

Last month, it produced a discussion paper on refreshing the strategy, which it will be consulting on until 20 January, before producing a more detailed document in spring 2009.

Balchin, the head of the later life public service agreement (PSA) team in the DWP’s older people and ageing society division, said the review would focus on four themes: creating an age-friendly society; preparing for later life; living well in later life; and providing stronger protection and support.

Protection not preparation

Balchin said: “We have done a lot on protecting older people in later life but not so much on preparing them and helping them live a decent life. That’s why we think most work is needed on creating an age-friendly society.”

The later life PSA is one of 30 government priorities for 2008-11. It is the only one that directly addresses the needs of older people, compared to five PSAs for children.

The later life PSA contains five performance indicators on older people’s employment; pensioner poverty; healthy life expectancy; satisfaction with home and area; and support to live independently.

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