This paper considers the changing landscape of policy and practice for older people since 2000 and how this varies across the four countries of the United Kingdom. We reflect on UK Government reforms over this period as well as the early choices made by the devolved administrations, which have varying powers.
We know much more about policy inputs - programmes designed to improve older people's quality of life - than about their impact. Evaluation of policies for older people is patchy, but various patterns are revealed, nonetheless. As a result of devolution to the three smaller countries of the UK, we can identify the intended policy aims for older people, as well as the role of policies reserved to Westminster. In particular, we are interested in how far policies have sought to improve well-being for all older people or for some, for example targeted on need, resources or stage within older age.
The paper draws mainly on a desk review of published documents, supplemented by a small number of interviews with policymakers in each of the four countries of the UK. ippr's Devolution in Practice publication (forthcoming 2009) will offer a fresh assessment of how the third term of devolution is affecting key policy areas.