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Harriet Harman: UK has to fight ageism

11th January 2010

Harriet Harman, minister for women and equality, has called on the country to tackle ageism in the workplace.

Speaking at an Age Concern/Help The Aged conference in central London, Ms Harman said that discrimination against older people causes problems for the whole of society, not just individuals.

The minister claimed that ageism in the workplace costs the UK as much as GBP 31 billion in lost gross domestic product and said that older people are the last remaining group that it is considered acceptable to discriminate against.

'We still have to challenge the old-fashioned notion that defines you through your importance to the world of work and that when you no longer work sees you as "past it",' she commented.

Ms Harman also pointed out that the equality bill, which entered the committee stage in the House of Lords today, will create protection for workers who are caring for an older relative and ensure that public bodies plan services to meet the needs of older people.

Last month, the bill was passed by the House of Commons. The proposals suggest a range of new laws to outlaw age discrimination, narrow the gap between rich and poor and force firms to report their gender pay levels.

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