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How is our work influencing life in Northern Ireland and delivering equality? Learn more about our policy, legal and research work.

Age equality

The Equality Commission's work in the area of age equality and age discrimination

Age EqualityAge Equality

Part of our statutory remit is to tackle age discrimination and promote age equality in Northern Ireland.  We believe members of society should not be treated differently or unfairly on the basis of their age.

Age equality - priorities and recommendations

We recommend that government, officials and key stakeholders act to address the following policy priorities: law reform, health, social care and well-being, employment, education, housing and accommodation, participation in public life, prejudice and social attitudes and welfare and social protection.

Action including via the Programme for Government and Budget; the Active Ageing Strategy; the Children and Young People's Strategy; and the wider policies and programmes for government.

Further information about the Commission's priorities and recommendations is available in the following publications:

The Equality Commission's age equality priorities for action are:

Law Reform: Protect people of all ages from unjustified age discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services

We recommend action to:
  • Protect people of all ages from unjustified age discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services.

Health, Social Care & Well-Being: Meet the specific needs of older & younger people across a range of equality groups

Action for children and young people is required to:
  • Ensure that provisions for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are adequate to meet the mental health needs of all children and young people;
  • Ensure the early availability of services and hormone suppressants to meet the needs of young trans people;
  • Put in place effective processes to ensure the successful transition from youth to adult services;

Action for older people is required to:
  • Ensure effective care in the community, addressing any issues with direct payments; homecare visits; and transport to community care services;
  • Raise awareness and uptake amongst older people of assistive technologies to access health, social care and well-being services;
  • Ensure that older people of differing sexual orientations and transgender people have their domiciliary, residential or nursing care needs fully met.

Employment: Reduce the proportion of young people who are NEET; reduce long-term unemployment amongst older people

Action is required to:
  • Target actions, advice and support to reduce the proportion of young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET).
  • Deliver co-ordinated actions to reduce long-term unemployment amongst older people.

Education: Improve participation of older people; young carers; looked after children; those within the juvenile justice centre

Action is required to:
  • Tackle barriers to older people participating in life-long and further education;
  • Work in collaboration to identify young carers and provide services to both support them and improve their educational outcomes;
  • Provide tailored support to ensure the effective participation in education of every looked after child;
  • Ensure children and young people in the juvenile justice centre have access to an appropriate education curriculum.

Housing & Accommodation: ensure accessible accommodation, energy efficiency and access to fuel-brokering scheme

Housing and Accommodation: Across all tenures, ensure accessible accommodation, energy efficiency, and access to a comprehensive fuel-brokering scheme.

We recommend:
  • Accessible housing standards should be applied to all new builds, including, as a minimum, the extension of the Lifetime Homes Standard to new builds across all tenures;
  • Easy to access adaptation services should be implemented to ensure older people’s independence in their own home;
  • Trust should ensure there is sufficient capacity to care for permanent care home residents (where they wish it), and that they provide for all older residents requiring care and support;
  • Undertake further research to understand the accommodation needs, preferences and expectations of older people.

Participation in Public Life: Ensure the active participation of younger and older people; address over-arching barriers

We recommend action to:
  • Encourage younger people to apply for public appointments; address institutional barriers; and deliver capacity building;
  • Take steps to more effectively foster the active participation of people of all ages in public policy development and decision-making, including to tackle over-arching barriers.

Prejudice & Social Attitudes: Challenge age-based negative and prejudicial attitudes, addressing their impact on individuals

We recommend action to:
  • Further explore how prejudicial attitudes impact on older people’s health and lifestyle choices; and the key actions that will overcome any identified issues;
  • Training for police should incorporate challenging negative and prejudicial attitudes towards children and young people;
  • The Children and Young People’s Strategy and action plans should include a focus on balanced media reporting measures;
  • Government should take action to address the fear of crime among older people.

Welfare & Social Protection: mitigate equality impacts of Welfare Reform; looked after children in criminal justice system

Welfare and Social Protection:  Further mitigate equality impacts of Welfare Reform; address the number of looked after children within the criminal justice system

Action is required to:
  • Assess the impact of Universal Credit on low income mixed age couples;
  • Ensure that the withdrawal of housing benefit to unemployed 18-21 year olds does not result in a rise in youth homelessness
  • Take targeted action to address the needs of single tenants aged 35 years and under when renting in the private rented sector.

Contact us
If you have any views on our age equality priorities and recommendations please contact us at

< Delivering equality
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Age related research

Older people’s experiences when accessing goods and services

This report, prepared by the Institute for Conflict Research, contains a range of case studies which illustrate older people’s experiences when accessing good, facilities and services, including access to health and social care, financial services and other services, such as retail or leisure services.  The report highlights nine examples of potential discrimination experienced by older people as well as numerous barriers (including negative attitudes) that older people face due to their age when accessing services.  The report recommends the introduction of legislation to outlaw unjustifiable age discrimination.


Strengthening Protection for all Ages (children and young people)

Legal advice obtained by the Equality Commission states that not including children and young people in any age legislation which prohibits discrimination on grounds of good, facilities and services would be a breach of the general principle of equal treatment and therefore would amount to discrimination itself.

An expert paper was produced by Robin Allen QC and Dee Masters BL:


Older People's Access to Financial Services

This report highlights some of the problems faced by older people when accessing financial services and called for reform of the law to protect older people against direct and indirect discrimination in accessing financial services.


Equality awareness survey

A Question of Attitude (2018)
Question of AttitudeWe asked respondents a series of 'social distance' questions to assess public attitudes towards ten equality groups. The scenarios explored how comfortable people felt with varying degrees of closeness to a member of a 'different' group. Respondents were asked whether they 'would mind' or 'would not mind' having a member of each group as a work colleague, a neighbour or if one of the group members were to marry a close relative.

Do You Mean Me? (2011)
Do you mean meThe Commission's equality awareness survey 'Do You Mean Me?' includes social attitudes in Northern Ireland on a number of equality grounds, including Age.


< Age Equality Age Publications >
Age Legislation >
Age related publications

Age equality policy priorities and recommendations

Age Law Reform
• Strengthening protection for children and young people when accessing goods, facilities and services:
  Proposals for reform by the Equality Commission NI & NICCY: - full guide  -  short guide  -  summary (pdf, 2013)

• Strengthening protection for all ages: Ending age discrimination on the provision of goods and services:
  Proposals for reform – Full Report (pdf, 2012)

• ICR Report: Age discrimination in accessing goods, facilities and services - examples (pdf, 2014)

Proposals for Legislative Reform (to OFMDFM) (pdf, 2009)

• Attitudes of the public in NI to age related issues: full report and summary report (pdf, 2008)

Guides and codes of practice

• Age discrimination law: a short guide (pdf, 2011)
Changes to the default retirement age - guidance for employers (pdf, 2011)
Employment equality law update (the 'default retirement age' has been retired)
Age discrimination law: guide for workers and employees (pdf, 2008)
Age discrimination in employment: guide for employers (pdf)
Age discrimination guide for vocational training and further education providers (pdf, 2008)

Let's talk, let's listen: guidance on consulting with children (pdf, 2008)
Let's talk, let's listen: insert for easy read (pdf, 2008)
Let's talk, let's listen: easy read (pdf, 2008)


• Other age related publications are available online

Consultation responses


Recent press releases, articles and blogs

All of the Equality Commission's age related press releases, articles and blogs are available online

Supported legal cases

Examples of recent age related legal cases supported by the Equality Commission NI:
  Further examples of age related legal case decisions and settlements are available online

< Age Equality Age Research > 
Age Legislation >

Age equality legislation

The Law

Equality and anti-discrimination law may be changed or updated.  The law is also complex and can require interpretation.  Please contact our discrimination advice team if you need clarification or guidance on what the law means. Email: or tel: 028 90 500 600.

Main law


Amending laws


European Union law
  • Directive 2000/78/EC - equal treatment in employment on grounds of religion and belief, disability, sexual orientation, age


Search our database of decisions and settlements for all resolved age discrimination cases.


Age equality Age Research >
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