§ Mr. Forman
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when the White Paper on the elderly will be published.
§ Mr. Patrick Jenkin
The White Paper"Growing Older", has been published today—Cmnd. 8173. It is the outcome of a comprehensive review of issues affecting the well-being of older people and demonstrates the variety of ways in which people can be enabled to achieve fulfilment and enjoy an acceptable quality of life in their later years.
The White Paper emphasises that the main aim of the Government's policies is to enable elderly people to live independent lives in their own homes wherever possible. 91W Against this background, it reviews income in retirement, housing, and arrangements for care and support where these are required.
On a wider plane, and following a discussion of retirement age, the White Paper calls for greater recognition that retirement can be a time of opportunity. It highlights the importance of advance preparation and the need for this to be matched by greater efforts to enable elderly people to make a continuing contribution to the life of the community and in other ways to enjoy their retirement.
The White Paper draws attention to the changing structure of the population and particularly to the increasing numbers of very elderly people living in the community. It underlines the need for everyone engaged in planning, providing or organising services or facilities essential to daily living to consider whether the interests of elderly people are taken sufficiently into account.
The White Paper recognises that the primary sources of support and care are informal and voluntary, and acknowledges the immense contribution being made by families, friends, neighbours and a wide range of private, voluntary and religious organisations. It sees the role of public authorities as being primarily to sustain and develop such support and care, and concludes that only an informed effort by the whole community will ensure that the challenges and opportunities presented by the growing numbers of older people are adequately met. Expenditure from public sources is constrained at present; human resources and good will are not.
The White Paper, therefore, concerns everyone and is addressed not only to public authorities but to the community as a whole. My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and I, together with our colleagues in the other Government Departments involved, hope that it will help to produce a better understanding of what it means to grow older, and stimulate thought and action on ways of making old age a happier time of life.