Discussion at the International Longevity Centre –UK, (ILC-UK) event held today, revealed that only just short of a third of the UK population will reach retirement “healthy”*. Gains in life expectancy have outstripped gains in healthy life expectancy, meaning that potentially over two thirds of people in the UK could find that they are living their retirement years in ill-health. ** The debate on “Longevity, health and public policy” saw over 100 delegates from Government, the media and public policy, explore the challenges of increased longevity and the implications for an ageing society.
Issues, such as the government plans to encourage people to work longer and the standard of living that people will have, as well as level of care available, may all be undermined if these challenges are not tackled now. During the debate, participants argued that there was a need for greater awareness of the implications, so that Government, the financial services industry and individuals together may identify solutions to start addressing the issues now.
The event also saw the launch of a new factpack, Ageing, longevity and demographic change, sponsored by Legal & General, which includes stats and figures that highlight some of the major challenges that need to be faced.
Professor Les Mayhew of Cass Business School said: “The good news is that we are all living longer than previous generations. However, if policymakers fail to respond to the longevity challenge, taxes could increase, public spending including pensions could be squeezed and pressures for immigration could increase.
Longevity needs to be managed if we are to protect living standards of future generations. While a bigger population leads to greater GDP, it does not necessarily translate into higher living standards. Part of the solution lies in re-calibrating our approach to health by recognising the importance of prevention and how health and social care are delivered.”
Baroness Sally Greengross chief executive of the ILC-UK added: “Future generations of older and younger people will not thank policymakers for failing to take the longevity challenges seriously. If we are to manage the costs and maximise the opportunities of an ageing society, the time to act is now. We must plan for tomorrow, today.”
Professor Michael Murphy of the London School of Economic, (LSE) highlighted the need for us to better understand the impact of demographic change, saying: “While the numbers of older people will increase substantially in decades to come, we know less about how healthy they are likely to be. “Healthy ageing” is moving up the policy agenda but much remains to be done. Looking ahead, the balance of care needs will shift from acute to social care services and the focus of attention will shift from older people in general to the particular needs of the “oldest old.”
Launching the new, Ageing, longevity and demographic change factpack, Baroness Greengross said “This new factpack highlights the significant impact demographic change is likely to have on public policy. Policymakers have a responsibility to understand demographic change and plan for an ageing society.”
The new ILC-UK factpack, which has been sponsored by Legal & General, collates statistics on our ageing society from a variety of reputable sources, providing, in a single document, details of key longevity trends and statistics, that will then be updated annually.
For example, statistics included in the factpack show that:
- At 12.2 million, the number of pensioners in the UK is equivalent to the combined populations of Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. ***
- Around one-third, of babies born in 2012 in the United Kingdom are expected to survive to celebrate their 100th birthday. ***
- Latest life expectancy statistics for England & Wales, show that a man aged 65 will live for 18.2 years and a woman aged 65, for 20.8 years***
- Of the top four diseases in the UK, dementia, cancer, stroke and heart disease – dementia contributes to over 50% of the care costs, but receives only 6% of the funding.****