Byers wants greater priority for older people

Stephen Byers, the former cabinet minister, today called for older people to be given much greater political priority. 

Delivering charity Counsel and Care’s annual Graham Lecture, Byers called for a new target to reduce pensioner poverty and for the carer’s allowance to be extended to pensioners, the latter at a cost of around £150m a year. 

The ex-minister, who is still seen as an influence on prime minister Tony Blair, also demanded an open debate on the funding system for adult social care to develop a consensus for reform ahead of next summer’s comprehensive spending review.

Speaking to Community Care ahead of the lecture, Byers said: “It’s going to be quite a tight spending review. We need to raise these issues [to influence it].”

He also gave his backing to calls for carers of older people to be given tax-free vouchers to pay for services for loved ones, and proposed a new national helpline for pensioners and an older people’s commissioner for England, as in Wales.

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