Trading venture launched by local Age Concerns

Advant~Age, which will sell insurance and other products, set up by charities that chose not to join Age UK

Age Concern cares for the elderly
Age Concern cares for the elderly

Local Age Concerns yesterday established a new trading venture for older people that will rival the one set up by Age UK.

Advant~Age, a social enterprise, will sell products such as home, motor and travel insurance, funeral plans and stairlifts from companies including Axa, Golden Charter and Stannah.

Age Concerns in Birmingham, Liverpool, Cardiff and Hampshire are among those supporting the initiative, which they described as a "declaration of independence" from Age UK at a parliamentary launch yesterday.

The national bodies of Age Concern have merged with Help the Aged to form Age UK. It sells similar products, but some local Age Concerns, which are independent charities, were unhappy with the terms of the trading and brand agreements they were asked to sign to join Age UK.

Some were worried they would lose independence and become franchises of a centralised charity; others claimed they would lose income by receiving less commission on the sale of products.

"We have no desire to generate income to prop up a large national organisation," said Dil Daly, chairman of Advant~Age and chief executive of Age Concern Liverpool.

"We believe that older people’s needs are best served by local charities, which are part of the local community."

Shirley Goode, chief executive of Age Concern Birmingham, urged other Age Concerns that have yet to decide whether to join Age UK to "be a key part of this exciting new venture, which retains the best of our proud Age Concern history and supplements this with a modern social enterprise".

Fiona Mactaggart, the Labour MP for Slough and a former charities minister, and Peter Hain, the shadow secretary of state for Wales, were among several MPs attending yesterday’s launch.

Mactaggart said: "The deal from Age UK is not good enough. This is not an act of rebellion - it’s an act of good housekeeping."

Hain said he could see the arguments for the merger but he was there to support his local Age Concern.

Advant~Age partners include Age Concerns in Barnstaple, Birmingham, Cardiff, Central Lancashire, Eastbourne, Exmouth, Hampshire, Liverpool, Morgannwg, Okehampton & Torridge, Slouth & Berkshire East, and Torfaen.

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