AGEING SOCIETY MUST SPUR POLICY CHANGES

AGEING SOCIETY MUST SPUR POLICY CHANGES THAT SUPPORT OLDER PEOPLE, SAYS HELP THE AGED

Responding to the news that the latest population statistics show that the over 60's now outnumber the under 18's, Mervyn Kohler, Special Adviser at Help the Aged comments:

'These new figures should be a cause for celebration. Policy makers and others must increasingly adjust their thinking to take stock of these clear changes in population. As Help the Aged has made clear through our own 'Just Equal Treatment' campaign, equality for older people matters now more than ever as these demographic changes become clearer to all.

'The key task for policy makers going forward is to ensure that older people can increasingly play an active role in our ageing society. The days of assuming older people are dependents must now come to an end. For example, there will need to be improved engagement with the need to develop housing supply that allows older people a genuine choice about how and where they live. Lifetime homes standards should be embraced as comprehensively as possible to help secure that choice.

'Additionally, the challenges of an ageing society means that the Government must now grasp the nettle of reform to the social care system with real urgency. The costs of allowing the social care system to continue to slowly wither on the vine would be enormous - these new statistics show in the starkest terms that the numbers of people who will require support in older age is set to grow ever larger. That surely means the time has now come to reform the system so that older people themselves are in control of their care packages.

'In employment, these figures clearly show the economic harm that will be caused to UK plc by continuing to exclude older people from the active workforce. Now is surely the time to consign the out-dated requirement for people to retire just because they reach a certain birthday to the dustbin. If an older person wishes to continue working, that should be something the Government and employers warmly welcome, instead of setting arbitrary ages for retirement.

'Changes to our population are inevitable over time. An ageing society is a fact of life which should be welcomed and embraced, not treated with concern. These new figures should give everyone pause for thought about our future.'