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Equality Bill sets out to end age discrimination 29/06/09
 
The Government Equalities Office (GEO) has outlined further proposals for a new legal ban on age discrimination, which will make sure older people do not face unfair treatment when they are buying goods or using services, such as in shops, hospitals, or when accessing car and holiday insurance.

The consultation published today “Equality Bill: Making it work – ending age discrimination in services and public functions” sets out how the legislation will enable things that are beneficial to continue such as age-based holidays and discounts for pensioners.

Banning age discrimination is particularly important as the population ages: by 2050, over half of the UK’s population will be over 50 years old.

Vera Baird, solicitor general and Equality Bill lead minister, said: “Older people make a strong contribution to society and it is totally wrong if they are treated unfairly. They must not be denied a full role in society. We all lose out if people are excluded and it is particularly silly to let that happen because people are getting older; it happens to us all.

“Today’s consultation is about making sure beneficial things continue, such as discounts for pensioners, while harmful age discrimination is consigned to the past.”

The ban could mean that an older person is offered lifestyle advice after suffering a heart attack, which may currently only be offered to younger people, or that older people get better access to travel and car insurance.

Dame Joan Bakewell, Voice of Older People, said: “I receive a steady stream of letters from older people, providing clear evidence that they feel marginalised and undervalued. I welcome the government's determination to put that right."

Today’s consultation:

* Describes the work that is being done to ensure access to health and social care services is based on need, not age.

* Proposes requiring providers of financial services and insurance to be transparent and publish the evidence that justifies treating people of different ages accordingly, because of differences in risk. It also seeks views on ways to help people find the right insurance policy through signposting or referrals to other insurers, giving older people confidence they are getting a good deal, as well as a fair one.

* Proposes exceptions from the age discrimination ban to ensure other beneficial age-based activities, such as holidays for people of particular ages, can continue.

* Proposes that car hire companies should not be able to refuse to hire cars to older people

* Invites views on the timetable for implementing the age discrimination ban.

The Government will bring the new law into force in phases, starting with those sectors which are most ready to comply.

It is expected that the legislation will be in force in all sectors, with the exception of health and social care, in 2012.

The Equality Bill sets out new laws which will help narrow the gap between rich and poor; enable business to be required to report on gender pay; outlaw age discrimination; and strengthen Britain’s anti-discrimination legislation.

The Equality Bill aims to simplify the law which, over the last four decades, has become complex and difficult to navigate.

Nine major pieces of legislation and around 100 other measures will be replaced by a single Act written in plain English to make it easier for individuals and employers to understand their legal rights and obligations.

The Equality Bill will strengthen our equality law by:
1. Introducing a new public sector duty to consider reducing socio-economic inequalities;
2. Putting a new Equality Duty on public bodies;
3. Using public procurement to improve equality;
4. Banning age discrimination outside the workplace;
5. Introducing gender pay reports;
6. Extending the scope to use positive action;
7. Strengthening the powers of employment tribunals;
8. Protecting carers from discrimination;
9. Offering new mothers stronger protection when breastfeeding;
10. Banning discrimination in private clubs; and
11. Strengthening protection from discrimination for disabled people.

The consultation runs until 30th September 2009. More details are at www.equalities.gov.uk

 

 
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