14 Mar 2013

UK is ‘woefully unprepared’ for ageing

The country is not ready to meet the challenges of an ageing society, according to a new Lords report, which wants all parties to make a manifesto commitment to tackle the issue.

UK is 'woefully unprepared' for ageing (Getty)

The report, by the House of Lords committee on public service and demographic change, is based on ONS statistics which predict a 50 per cent rise in the number of people over 65 by 2030, and a 100 per cent increase in over-85s.

It warns that current health and social care provision is inadequate to meet the impact of such a change.

The publication calls on private sector employers, government and the financial services industry to work together to tackle defects in defined contributions so people have a clearer idea of what they get from their pension savings.

To this end, it wants the present government to produce a white paper setting out how our society should prepare for a longer life, and it asks political parties to address the implications of the ageing society in their manifestos.

Cross-party commissions

In the longer term, the report, entitled Ready for Ageing? recommends that the new government after the 2015 general election should set up two cross-party commissions, to report within 12 months of their establishment.

The first would aim to improve pensions and savings, and work to the creation of a safe, easy-to-understand equity release market. The second would analyse how health and social care funding needs to change to serve the ageing population.

Read more: Respect your elders - why the ageing population is good news

The report notes that our current model of health and social care provision is already failing the elderly, and would be unable to cope with the predicted increase in the number of older people with chronic health conditions.

‘Honest conversation’

Lord Filkin, chairman of the committee on public service and demographic change, said: “This is not a distant issue. Our population is older now and will get more so over the next decade.

“The public are entitled to an honest conversation about the implications.”

Commenting on the report’s findings, Michelle Mitchell, charity director general at Age UK, told Channel 4 News: “The House of Lords report is ground-breaking.

“It’s the first time a group of senior policymakers in this country has shown it grasps the scale and nature of change needed across our society in response to the gift of longer lives.

The report lays down an urgent challenge to which we must urgently respond.”