Government Launches Older People Pilot Scheme

In the London borough of Tower Hamlets, Pensions Minister James Purnell today launched one of eight pilot schemes providing services for socially excluded older people. The programme, called Link-Age Plus, will provide a focal point for older people to access information on Housing, Transport, Health, & Employment. Pilots will also run in Devon, Gateshead, Gloucestershire, Lancaster, Leeds, Nottinghamshire and Salford. The scheme is part of the government’s strategy for older people, A Sure Start to Later Life: Ending inequalities for older people, published in January 2006.

The experience of exclusion is not unique to older people – it affects people of all ages. However, exclusion can be particularly acute in later life for three reasons. First, it is all to rare that people who are excluded in mid-life are able to break the cycle of exclusion in later life, indeed it can often become more acute. Secondly, the impact of key life events, such as bereavement, can lead people to become excluded in later life. Thirdly the impact of age discrimination on both the aspirations of individuals and the environment within which they operate can lead to exclusion. Too often this exclusion is compounded by the failure of services to react to the complexity of exclusion in later life. This is why we need a more responsive model for services for older people that addresses these needs.

The report suggests that the approach of Sure Start in galvanising communities and re-shaping childrens services can work just as well for older people, particularly in tackling those most excluded. The Sure Start to later life approach would used the same methods as the childrens model to improve access, bringing together services around older people.

The report sets out 30 agreed cross-government action points, which will be implemented to ensure that the needs of the most excluded older people are addressed.

Alongside the report we are publishing new research -by the National Centre for Social Research – which sets out current analysis on the extent and characteristics of social exclusion affecting older people in England.