15 March 2024

Independent Age: Campaign for a Commissioner for Older People

Independent Age have published a new report that highlights the need for those in later life to have a voice and the call for a Older People’s commissioner for Scotland.  Below is an excerpt from the report but you can read it in full here.

The population of Scotland is ageing. Currently there are more than one million people aged 65 or over – around a fifth of the population – and this is projected to rise to 1 in 4 people – around a quarter of the population – by 2040. This changing age demographic requires innovative policy solutions to ensure that everyone in the nation can approach later life with hope and excitement.

While we each have our own idea of what a good later life looks like, too many people across Scotland have told us that, as they age, they are not living the later lives they expected – or hoped for. Many are constrained by factors outside their control and by a lack the freedom to carve out their older age as imagined. For some this is because they have a low, fixed income that doesn’t adequately cover basic costs; for others they live in homes that don’t meet their needs. Older people
across Scotland have shared with us that they feel left behind and forgotten, and this is backed up by polling we commissioned: we found that almost three quarters (72%) of those aged 65 and over think the issues they face are badly understood by society.

The impact of this for many in later life is a constant feeling of powerlessness, and that they
don’t have a voice. 

We believe that an Older People’s Commissioner could be part of the solution. This isn’t a role many are familiar with and, to some, it may sound vague or obtuse – but commissioners exist across governments and nations in the UK and have a tangible impact on people’s lives. 

For example, there is a Children’s Commissioner for Scotland, another who focuses on ethical standards in public life, and in Wales and Northern Ireland there are Older People’s Commissioners.
An Older People’s Commissioner would help bridge the gap between older people and the institutions that impact their lives, including the Scottish Government, local councils, the NHS, civil servants and businesses.

They would engage directly with people in later life, listening to their concerns and working with decision makers to improve the social systems they rely on. Given that Wales and Northern Ireland have had Older People’s Commissioners in place for many years, and that there is substantial support to create a commissioner for England, we feel that without a commissioner for Scotland, older people across the nation are at risk of being left behind.


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