If you landed in Britain today for the first time, you could be forgiven for thinking that there was a civil war between generations in this strange country.
That’s what the media and many policymakers would like us to believe as they pit young people against older people. Pick up a newspaper, go online or read the latest thinktank pamphlet, and you will see countless myths and stereotypes about older and young people never having had it so good (or bad).
The reality is rather different. Older people are concerned about what is happening to their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and their future. Young people are concerned about how their grandparents will fare in old age.
We should not be stoking up enmity between generations. We should be focusing instead on the distribution of income, wealth and opportunities, and how we create a society where people of all ages prosper. Attacks on older and young people are a diversion from the real problems Britain faces.
Rather than dividing age groups, politicians should be seeking to develop a progressive contract that unites all ages. Action by and for people of every age can be the basis for a national prevention strategy from cradle to grave. From active ageing to tackling obesity and giving children a good start in life, we must help people to help themselves. Bringing older and young people together has multiple benefits – from reducing loneliness and sharing skills to tackling the care crisis.
As United for All Ages’ new report argues, it’s time to build a Britain for all ages with a contract between the generations.