Wales

More growth in older population in Wales

  • 5 August 2010
  • From the section Wales
Two men on a park bench
Image caption The over-65s will make up a quarter of the population of Wales by 2031

Wales is set to further outstrip the UK average for people aged over 65 over the next 20 years, figures show.

A quarter of the Welsh population will be 65 or over by 2030, compared to 22% for the UK average.

Age Cymru called for society to be "age proofed" with more thought going into allowing people to live independently.

The assembly government said it had been "planning for some time on meeting the demographic demand that will grow even more over the next two decades".

The Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) said it wanted to generate greater awareness about Wales' ageing population.

It has released an age map of Wales based on figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The figures show Wales is expected to outstrip the UK average for residents aged over 65 over the next 20 years.

Wales already has a higher proportion of over-65s compared to the UK average, at 18.5% compared to 16.5%, and this gap will rise to 25% and over 22% by 2030.

The DWP said the age map showed "that Wales has a real silver lining as people enjoy longer, healthier lives".

The UK government is looking at how to phase out rules that can force people to stop working at 65.

A spokesman said: "We're trying to raise awareness of the ageing population and to get people to think more that working a bit longer may be a possibility."

Charity Age Cymru, said an ageing population was "something to celebrate" but there still needed to be a "cultural change".

A spokesman said: "Retirement may be very different from what we imagine it being - it makes economic sense to allow people to work until they're older, as long as it's their choice.

"Retirement is not always the idyll that people expect because pensioner poverty is a big problem."

The charity's head of policy Graeme Francis said policy makers needed to ensure their plans were "age proofed" to ensure they were right for older people.

'Housing'

He said: "Services may have to be reconfigured to enable people to live longer at home or to live independently without being reliant on the social services.

"In terms of community, it means housing being appropriate for older people - that can mean housing that can be modified appropriately, having public transport or even enough seating areas or public toilets.

"These things, done in the right way, can enable communities to be appropriate for older people."

The assembly government unveiled a 10-year Strategy for Older People in 2003, and has invested more than £16m in it.

A spokeswoman said: "This has included resources for all local authorities in Wales to have a 'strategy for older people champion at elected-member level and a co-ordinator to work with older people through the 50+ Forum to feed their views directly to their council."

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