UK Politics

Brexit and population increase 'to change UK radically' by 2030

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Life in the UK will undergo "radical" change in the 2020s due to Brexit, population changes and jobs being taken by robots, a think tank has predicted.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said there would be a Brexit "aftershock" and that the UK's exit from the EU would be "the firing gun on a decade of disruption".

It identified wide-ranging factors that would "reshape how we live and work".

The government has promised to "forge a new role" for the UK in the world.

In its report, the IPPR, a centre-left think tank, said Brexit would be one of the major "disruptive forces" in the years ahead, saying the vote had delivered a "profound shock" to the UK's political and economic order which was likely to set the country on a path of permanently lower growth and living standards.

It also anticipated a "demographic tipping point" with a population boom and the number of people aged 65 and over predicted to rise by a third by the end of the next decade.

The report said this would impose new strains on the state with the funding gap for adult social care expected to hit £13bn by 2030-31.

This would lead to an increase in the UK's deficit - the gap between income and spending - it said.

'Different landscape'

The IPPR also said two-thirds of current jobs - 15 million - were at risk from "exponential" improvements in new technologies such as artificial intelligence systems.

"Politics, economics and power structures will be profoundly disrupted, and with it social relations," it said.

The report said while this would not end "work as we know it", it would make jobs less secure and more freelance.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The report claimed millions of jobs were at risk of "automation" because of new technology

Politicians would have to shape who benefits from the changes and who loses out, it said.

The report also predicted a transformation in how energy is produced and consumed by 2030, which would be driven by climate change, as well as a "changing economic world order", with power to "accelerate eastward".

"Brexit is the firing gun on a decade of disruption," the report said.

"Even as what we do and how we work changes, the UK is likely to remain trapped in a low growth, low interest rate decade driven by demographic shifts, productivity trends, weak investment, weak labour power, high levels of debt, and the headwinds of a slowing global economy.

"Without reform, our political and social system will struggle to build a more democratic, healthy society in the decades ahead, even as Brexit accelerates us towards a radically different institutional landscape."

Labour and the Liberal Democrats both saw the report as an indictment of what they called the government's "hard Brexit strategy", which is taken to mean forfeiting single market access in order to gain control over immigration.

But the government reiterated its commitment to making a success of Brexit and saying the UK was forecast to be the fastest-growing major advanced economy.

"While there may be challenges ahead, we approach them from a position of strength," a spokesman added.