Select Committee on Science and Technology First Report


74. EQUAL has been a disappointment. How to extend our active life, and to improve the quality of our old age, is an absolutely crucial issue. Indeed, given the current demographic trends, meeting the needs of an ageing population could be said to be the most important issue which confronts our society at present. EQUAL was, in concept, an admirable initiative, aiming to use the resources, expertise and capacity for innovation of the research base to extend the active period of people's lives. Yet it seems to have achieved very little. This is partly the result of a lack of impetus and enthusiasm on the part of the OST, but largely stems from the fact that EQUAL carries no funding of its own. The Government must face up to the fact that EQUAL, as established, has not worked. Responsibility should pass to whichever Government department is given lead responsibility for ageing. Unless EQUAL can be relaunched, properly funded and managed with enthusiasm, it should be abandoned.

75. Tackling the issues posed by a population that is ageing will be a test of joined-up government, and a test which we cannot afford to fail.

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Prepared 17 January 2001