Caring for the Elderly

Part of Opposition Day — [16th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 4:49 pm on 15th July 2009.

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Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 4:49 pm, 15th July 2009

I am more than happy to agree wholeheartedly with the hon. Gentleman. I do not think that we, certainly on the Government Benches, refer to older people as a burden. It is quite clear that they offer a great opportunity for economic development and for handing on many of their life experiences to the younger generation, and that there is a great deal of opportunity in developing older businesses. Opposition Front Benchers rather sneered at the idea that grandparents fit in as a sandwich generation, often caring for younger people as well as for older relatives, but it is a key social policy issue that needs to be developed, not sneered at.

I was disappointed with the sneering approach of Mr. Waterson to that issue. The Budget announcement about crediting in national insurance contributions for grandparents with caring responsibilities is a breakthrough policy. I expect that we will see more such measures, so that we can establish that grandparents have an important and central role in our social policy.