Charity urges older voters to exercise their influence

THE over-55s will be more influential than ever in deciding the general election, a Suffolk charity has said.

Parliamentary candidates in the county were warned to ignore the “grey vote” at their peril last night as campaigning enters its final day.

In five of Suffolk’s seven constituencies older voters are in the majority, with 63% of voters in Suffolk Coastal being over the age of 55, 59% in Waveney and South Suffolk, 57% in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich and 55% in Bury St Edmunds.

In the remaining two constituencies voters over 55 years old make up 49% of voters in West Suffolk and 47% in Ipswich.

The figures, published as part of Age Concern Suffolk’s Our Power is our number campaign, highlights the importance of candidates securing the older vote.

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Age Concern Suffolk is challenging candidates to speak out about how their party will deliver a fairer deal for older people, while reminding older voters “the power is in their number,” urging them to use their vote in tomorrow’s election.

The charity is calling on the political parties to commit to five key election pledges to reform the failing social care system, end pensioner poverty, outlaw agesim, improve the NHS and other public services and enable older people to play a greater role in society.

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Daphne Savage, chief executive of Age Concern Suffolk, said: “Improving the ageing experience is a huge challenge for any government, locally and nationally. With our growing older population here in Suffolk, which is higher than the national average, it is understandable that people are concerned that their later life will not be about maintaining health and wellbeing, but about second-rate services and support.

“We have written to all the candidates in the main parties and asked them to ‘go public’ on their commitments to older people, who are more likely to vote than any other age group and are in the majority in five of our Suffolk constituencies.

“We have drawn their attention to the high percentage of older voters in their constituency and pointed out that those individuals are actively interested in how people will be enabled to have a full and satisfying later life which may, sometimes, need to include care and support.

“We have also reminded them that older people are a vast volunteer workforce in our communities and through the support they give to their families, so enabling them to stay well and active in later life benefits our society.

“Finally, we invited candidates to make public, to that huge and growing number of older voters in their constituency, what their party will do to address their concerns and maintain their quality of life as they age in that constituency.”

In the final days of the campaigning Age Concern Suffolk is encouraging all those over 55 in Suffolk to demand urgent action from their local candidates to ensure older people are not forgotten by the next government.

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