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Written Statement - European Year of Active Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity 2012

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Gwenda Thomas AM, Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services

This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.


I was delighted that the First Minister agreed to host the closing ceremony for the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between the Generations 2012 in Cardiff on 29 November.  This event further raised Wales’ profile in Europe as a leading country in developing ageing policy and as result we are expecting our work to be awarded Reference Site Status.

The European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations is about changing the perception of getting old as a negative experience to emphasising the opportunities of people living longer and healthier lives, and promoting best practice.


This event has demonstrated that we have achieved much in Wales but we will not rest on our laurels; we know that we still have a long way to go to fully address the implications of our ageing society.  That is why we have made a commitment to a third phase of our Strategy for Older People.


We recognise the value of the opportunity to build links with Europe and I welcome the Commissioner for Older Peoples’ commitment to developing a 5 year “Ageing Well” programme that will support our implementation of Phase 3 of the Strategy for Older People.  This programme that will commence in 2013, represents a collaborative legacy commitment to the European Year 2012 of Active Ageing and Solidarity between the Generations. The Programme will actively engage with the European Innovation Partnership on Ageing.

Since we launched our Strategy for Older People in 2003 we have driven forward real improvements to the lives of older people in Wales.  When I launched the consultation on the third phase of the Strategy in October 2012, I stated the Welsh Government’s intention to consider and explore whether a Declaration of Older People’s Rights would help us in our ambition to protect and enhance the rights of older people in Wales, and have asked my officials to consider, with partners how this could be explored further. This builds on the good debate we had in the Senedd earlier this year on this issue that was led by Darren Miller AM.

Whilst in itself a Welsh Declaration on the Rights of Older People would have no binding legal effect but it would send very clear signals to statutory bodies and service providers, as well as to older people themselves, about our expectations and would strengthen our ability to ensure that older people receive the support and services they need to lead independent and full lives.  I am pleased that the Commissioner for Older People will lead with us work to give further consideration to the potential parameters and impacts of a Welsh Declaration.  

Wales already has a higher proportion of people of state pension age than other parts of the UK, and over the life of the third phase of the Strategy the number of people aged 85 and over is projected to double. However I am confident that we have the ambition and structures in place to help Wales respond to the opportunities and challenges that these population changes present.  We are privileged to be in a position where we can build on our achievements and our experience, to proactively take forward a further 10 years of positive action on ageing so that Wales is recognised as a good place to grow older.  


This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed.  Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.