In the second of ConservativeHome's occasional series looking at specialist membership groups within the Conservative Party, we have invited A-lister Stella Kyriazis to introduce the work of Tories for Older People.
Within 20 years the number of people over the age of 65 will expand by 200%. This will have enormous implications not only on our healthcare and pensions systems, but it will revolutionise the entire political approach to old age.
Three years ago, as a small contribution to this political issue, I set up the group Tories for Older People (TOP), with the aim of aiding the Conservative Party to develop comprehensive, integrated and long-term policies relating to the affairs of older people (aged 60 and over).
TOP do not have all the answers to the ageing crisis, but raise questions and matters for discussion. It is a political awareness group supported by all ranks of the party. The last three party leaders (Ian Duncan Smith, Michael Howard and now David Cameron) have supported us by being Honorary Patrons. Nigel Waterson MP, is the chairman, and Simon Burns MP is the president.
* Health: Old age does not begin with the arrival of a certain birthday, but with the decline in physical and mental abilities. In the UK, 90% of the entire health care budget is spent on treating age-related diseases such as arthritis, dementia, stroke, and cancer. An effective preventative programme is not only feasible but also essential in reducing the spiraling costs of treating chronic disease.
* Pensions: Scientists tell us that today there is probably someone, somewhere, who will be the first ever 150-year old person. A nightmare scenario based on the current pension arrangement would involve increasing numbers of people who retire at 65 and then go on to live for another 50-60 years! The whole pensions culture needs to be radically revised to avoid a situation whereby older people cannot afford to retire, ever.
* Transport: The travel needs of the over 60s do not necessarily correspond to those of younger age groups. This has not been fully appreciated by policy-making groups, leading to a situation where policy decisions about inner-city transport or long distance travel are wholly unsatisfactory for frail older people.
* Re-education and re-employment of older adults: On average, people who retire at 65 can expect to live another 16-19 years, and a substantial minority can expect to live another 30 years. There is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom in this age group, which is not being fully utilised. Many older people feel that they have a lot to give to society either through voluntary re-employment (part-time or even full-time), voluntary work, re-education and life long learning, and offering their expertise for the benefit of others.
Other diverse issues such as the implications of an increasing life-span upon society, long-term care, and scientific research into ageing are also on the agenda.
In this respect, the TOP group organises specialist seminars, open debates and policy discussion meetings. It is a focus point where people interested in older age issues can meet, exchange ideas and information.
Membership is free for Conservative supporters. For further details please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the past 100 years the real division was between rich and poor. For the next 100 years the real social divide will be between young and old.
The first entry in this series was written by Roger Baker - about the Conservative Animal Welfare Group. If you would like to write about a group that you are involved with please email email@example.com.