New laws outlawing age discrimination which have come into force have been heralded by ministers as a significant step forward for equality.
The changes, the final part of the Equality Act 2010, ensure that older people cannot be discriminated against in the provision of goods, facilities and services. The new rules complement existing laws banning age discrimination in the workplace.
Specific exemptions are included in the laws to allow some positive discrimination, such as the provision of age-related benefits like free bus passes or certain medical treatments like flu jabs.
General health and social care provision is not covered by exemptions to ensure fair treatment for older patients.
Equalities Minister Helen Grant said: “Discrimination can affect people at different times of their lives. Both old and young people may be treated in a different way simply because of their age. This sort of prejudice has no place in modern society and it is right that we introduce legislation that will protect people from unfair treatment.
“Not only are we providing protection against age discrimination but we have been careful to ensure that the law strikes the right balance between protecting older people and allowing business to make sensible decisions.”
Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said: “People quite rightly expect dignified care that meets their needs, irrespective of their age.
“By introducing this age discrimination ban, we are making sure that there is no room for assumptions about age or discrimination of any kind in health and social care.”
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