Charities warn government over ageing population

Elderly woman's hands The charities backed calls for a cabinet minister to be appointed to represent elderly people's interests

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Ministers should do more to prepare for the impact of an ageing population, a group of leading charities has warned.

A poll by care provider Anchor of 2,200 adults found more than three quarters (77%) said the government was not ready to cope with changing UK demographics.

The survey results prompted the Ready for Ageing Alliance to say that action now was "crucial for a happier old age for future generations".

The government insisted it had an ambitious programme for the elderly.

Some 76% of those polled also said they wanted a cabinet minister appointed to address the issue.

Jane Ashcroft, chief executive of Anchor, said: "We ask government to prove to the public that they can future-proof policy. 137,000 people signed Anchor's petition for a minister for older people.

"Government cannot bury its head in the sand on the issue."

George McNamara, head of policy and public affairs at the Alzheimer's Society, added: "By failing to prepare for the effect of an ageing population, we could be preparing to fail.

"While the government needs to plan for the impact of an ageing society, the public also needs to give more consideration to planning for their own old age.

"We ignore the challenge of an ageing population at our peril."

The survey came as Office for National Statistics figures showed there were 12,320 people aged over 100 in England and Wales in 2012 compared with just 2,560 three decades ago.

Centenarians in England and Wales

  • 1982: 2,560
  • 1992: 4,460
  • 2002: 7,090
  • 2012: 12,320

Source: ONS estimates

The number of people aged over 90 has tripled over a similar time.

The government said changes to pensions and public services meant people would be able to save for retirement and get excellent care when they needed it.

A spokesman said: "We want to make the UK one of the best places to grow old in and we have an ambitious programme to achieve this.

"We are making radical changes to our pension system so people can plan and save for a decent income in retirement.

"We are reforming our public services so that older people get excellent care and support when they need it and are enabled to live independently.

"It is vital to make the most of the skills and talents that everyone has to offer."

The Ready for Ageing Alliance comprises eight charities consisting of Age UK, Alzheimer's Society, Anchor, Carers UK, Centre for Policy on Ageing, Independent Age, International Longevity Centre UK and Joseph Rowntree Foundation.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    Will I be deemed as rich when I become a pensioner because I own my home? I worked hard to pay off my mortgage, including all interest on the loan, while others p***** their money up the wall. I paid for all repairs and upkeep. I also struggled to finance a company pension for my later life, but I'm not rich. Now the tables are turned and I have no debts, should I be penalised? On yer bike!

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    NEW APP that may solve your problem for leaving your Elderly loved ones independently living at hme.

    I have put this on my Dad’s phone and can see where he has been etc. But if you want to put this on your kid’s phone, then it too can be very useful for you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    I object to barbs that the elderly are a burden on society. I am a pensioner, self sufficient, thankfully in excellent health; fitter physically than many men half my age. I served in the forces and worked to age 65. I paid tax/NHI every month of my life since age of 16. I donate to charity and spend my savings and pension supporting my children/grandchildren. We have given more than we received

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    This is a problem facing many countries aside from the UK, Japan, China, most of Europe and the US. Rather than allocating billions for more efficient war machines to kill people governments ought to divert spending to those who will be most in need the very young and the old. In the US a lunatic Republican Congress is regressive if not out right brutal. We're all going to be old one day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    #156 Stuart
    "My generation paid this off!"

    Sorry, you're wrong. We're not talking about WW2, we're taking about today's pensioners consuming at an unstustainable rate for decades, leaving the cupboard bare for our grandchildren. Ask any pensioner to tighten their belt for the common good and they'll start banging on about the war how they've paid in all their lives, etc.

    (I'm retired too, btw).

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    I'm older now and honestly I have no idea of what to say to you younger people. Um lets see....stuff doesn't matter so don't spend your money on it, you are pretty without all the cosmetics they flog, you don't need things to impress others....use your mind and know yourself. Does that help...I hope so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    The firemen will be drain on society, if they get their way and live to 100, they'll be getting public money for the last 50 years of their lives!

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    @72 Coo coo ca choo

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    The youth of today don't have it so good - I think you mean the 30-40 year olds who did get a good start.

    My generation is having to put up with no jobs, no free higher education (£9000 annual tuition fees!), NHS privatization, soaring house & rent prices (not to mention fuel and food) - and when we get to your age we'll be working later and getting a far leaner pension.

    Not a great start.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    In a modern world, cost should be no factor where the elderly are concerned. It beggars belief how people freeze and go hungry because they can not pay for fuel or food or die because of the excessive costs pharmaceutical manufacturers impose on us . Hopefully, one day, we will hold different values other than those of personal wealth and fortune.

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    Look after the aged as they looked after you when you were young
    This country is backward in it's outlook on the elder population.
    These people have provided towards your care and well being when you were vulnerable so now that they are old and vulnerable you should not cast them aside.
    They didn't cast you aside

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    We won't see action anytime soon. This is a long-term problem; one that is starting to affect us now but will really kick in and become more of a crisis over the next few decades.

    Governments won't make unpopular but necessary decisions until the crisis is upon us and they becomes policies that make them electable.

    They're only concerned with the issues of today; tomorrow is someone else's mess.

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    I see many comments resenting the view that retired people have paid in all their life. This is true. We did not have the start in life that the younger generations have. Most were born before, during or just after the 2nd World War. These were times of severe austerity which makes the current recession look like a Christmas party. Our hard work rebuilt Britain. Stop whingeing - follow our example

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    162.JDB - "It's a shame that we rely on the state for the care of the elderly, surely as our parents cared for us in our youth we should care for them in their dotage"

    In principle, yes but imagine two people of 90+ years, possibly with Dementia or Alzheimer's, doubly incontinent and very demanding

    The children will be in their 60's, both still both working and not necessarily 100% fit..

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    Government perpetuate the myth of the rich pensioners but in reality only the same proportion are rich as there are workers who are termed as rich, the rest are spread through out the income scale only starting from a lower income, but there again as we can afford to give away billions in overseas aid, then we must be able to look after our elderly, and if we cant then they have been let down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    Sadly, I think the brutal truth for the world is, working into our late 70s or to death, whatever comes first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    Fact - people are living longer
    Fact - Society needs to prepare to have more elderly people in the population
    Fact - most of us aim to get old
    Fact - Governments will not make unpopular decisions close to an election
    Fact - Governments rarely prepare for beyond the next election unless they can see a financial advantage for themselves

    Result - no action until after next election

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    It's a shame that we rely on the state for the care of the elderly, surely as our parents cared for us in our youth we should care for them in their dotage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    Forget pension plans, forget savings, forget buying your own home. All these things are just putting money away for the Government to take off you if you are fortunate enough to live long.

    Spend everything on holidays and fun, enjoy life while you can and let the Government feal with your final years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    Consider a society of a few thousand where all the old save their dosh so they have billions but (for whatever reason) there are only a few hundred workers. As apposed a similar society where the old haven't saved half so much. Would bread be the same price in both societies? If not then which would it be dearer?


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