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Ban on age discrimination in services delayed to October 2012

27 February 2012

The government has decided to delay implementing a ban on age discrimination in the provision of services until October 2012 at the earliest.

The measure, contained in the Equality Act 2010, was due to come into force in April 2012.

However, a Home Office spokesman said this week that it was “carefully considering all of the options” on how the age discrimination ban could be implemented.

He added that the department would “set out a way forward in due course”.

It is understood that ministers are still to decide on the scope of exceptions to the ban, following a consultation on the issue which closed in May 2011.

Launching the consultation, equalities minister Lynne Featherstone suggested some exceptions, such as in financial services, could be “beneficial or justifiable”.

However, Featherstone said it was “very clear” that there should be no exceptions in the health and social care sectors. “Any use of age in decision making within the NHS and in social care will, if challenged, need to be objectively justified.”

Michelle Mitchell, charity director general of Age UK, said the delay in the implementation of the Equality Act showed a “fundamental failure” on the part of the government to properly protect the rights of older people.

“The Equality Act became law in 2010 and the government’s consultation closed last May,” she said. “It is unacceptable that these provisions still do not have legal force.”

It is understood that the government believes businesses and other organisations need more time to prepare for the change.

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