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'OLDER VOTERS COULD DECIDE OUTCOME OF GENERAL ELECTION'
SAYS NEW CHARITY, AGE UK



 


Electoral power lies firmly in the hands of older voters, according to exclusive new research which reveals this group will be more influential in the 2010 General Election than ever before. It shows people aged over 55 will cast four out of every 10 votes and make up the majority in many marginal seats.(1)


The 'Our Power Is Our Number' General Election campaign marks the launch of Age UK, the new force combining Age Concern England and Help the Aged following their merger last year. Building on this strong heritage, Age UK will celebrate ageing and work to create opportunity in later life. It will also fight and challenge disadvantage for older people.


The new charity will deliver information and advice, as well as providing practical services to help people stay independent at home and doing the things they love most. It will also work to tackle isolation and sustain good health. The charity will operate in the UK and globally and will campaign alongside older people for changes in legislation, policy and practice that will bring a better later life. Age UK will challenge attitudes and address market failures with age-friendly products and the charity's 500 plus shops will act as gateways to the wider services it offers.(2)


Research conducted for the charity by De Montfort University reveals the over 55s will account for the majority of votes cast in 319 constituencies across Britain. Politicians cannot afford to ignore these numbers and Age UK's election campaign is urging older people to use their vote and ensure candidates engage with issues which are important to them.


The research also shows that 'grey' majorities are likely in 94 marginal seats where securing votes among the over 55s could tip the balance of power between the main three parties (3). Of these 94 seats, 38 are held by Labour, 19 by the Liberal Democrats and 34 by the Conservative Party (4). With the loss of just 32 seats being enough to overturn the Government's majority of 63, the 'grey' marginals are a significant battleground.


** New polling coming soon for this press release - As part of this story, Age UK will also be providing a crucial insight into the issues that matter most to older voters across the country just days before the launch of the new charity and this campaign. This up-to-the minute polling and qualitative research by Brand Democracy will provide essential in-depth analysis about how older people will vote, the priority issues that will determine this vote and what the over 60s are looking for from MPs.(5)


Michelle Mitchell, Age UK Charity Director, said:

"This research shows that older people's votes cannot be taken for granted and that many people are not lifelong supporters of one political party. It also illustrates that when we talk about older voters, we're talking about individuals, not a voting bloc. Just as with all ages, the over 60s care about a variety of issues and their decisions are based on families, hopes and worries for the future."


The Our Power is Our Number campaign will reach out into local communities across England directly and through Age Concerns and other partner organisations. It will harness the voices of older voters across England and encourage individuals to ask the right questions so that candidates provide answers on the issues that matter most to people and earn their votes. Individuals will be presenting their local candidates with the Age UK manifesto and calling on them to commit to five key election pledges to improve the lives of older people including:


i) reforming the failing social care system,
ii) improved pensions,
iii) axing ageism and ending forced retirement,
iv) making the NHS fit for later life,
v) enabling older people to play a greater role in society.(6)

The campaign will kick off on Monday 5th April with the unveiling of a mobile poster that will start at Westminster and travel to key destinations around London during the course of the week. The image will act as a powerful visual reminder to MPs that people over 60 matter. Some of those featured in the poster will be at the unveiling to share their views and concerns on a range of issues and to hand out leaflets and encourage other people to vote and get involved. To find out more and to join the campaign click onto the website at www.ageuk.org.uk/election or contact your nearest Age Concern. (7)


Other launch activity for the new Charity is being rolled out by Age Cymru, Age NI and Age Scotland who are part of the Age UK family working to create a better quality of life for older people across the UK.


Michelle Mitchell, Age UK Charity Director, said:

"Today marks a major milestone for us with the launch of Age UK and our election campaign. An ageing society presents tremendous opportunities that should rightly be celebrated, yet at the same time we have a big challenge ahead to improve the experience of later life for people now and for generations to come. Alongside climate change, population ageing is the greatest global transition we will face this century.


"Many older people and their families have experienced poor treatment from a crumbling, underfunded social care system which can't cope with demand. Everyday people face age discrimination in employment, medical treatment and financial services, leaving them feeling worthless and shut out of society. And later life continues to be ignored when it comes to building communities and providing services, despite the huge demographic shift we are seeing.

"The success of any party in this election depends on their commitment to act on the issues which are most important to older people who are more likely to vote than any other age group. Older people are fed up with second class services and we will support them to demand action from their local candidates on care, age discrimination, the NHS and pensions."

 



Age UK is inspired by the belief that it can improve the lives of people in later life. It celebrates ageing and believes it presents unprecedented opportunities and challenges at home and abroad. The charity will challenge ageist prejudice in society, provide services that address market failures and support the public and private sectors to design age-friendly products and services. It will support people to remain in their own homes through campaigning and practical services and its Information and Advice service will offer millions of people support on a range of issues from claiming benefits to staying fit and healthy.

 

Age UK will fund biomedical research that helps tackle the ill health and poor quality of life that are too common as people age. Working with over 350 partners across the country the charity will help influence local decisions and deliver the most appropriate services. Its network of over 500 shops will act as a focal point for the local community, providing information and help with local services. The charity works across the globe as well as in the UK, championing older people's rights and needs.



 

 

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