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Home > People and Sustainable Communities > Ageing Society

The contents of this website are under review following the formation of a new HM Government. Current information may be found at www.gonetwork.gos.gov.uk.

Ageing Society

The UK population is growing older. Over the last 25 years the population of people aged 65 and over has increased by 1.5 million (an increase from 15% in 1983 to 16% of the population by 2008). The fastest population increase has been in the number of those aged 85 and over. Since 1983, the number of people aged 85 and over has more than doubled from 600,000 in 1983 to 1.3 million people in 2008. The population of the West Midlands has shown similar changes. With the increase in life expectancy, children and young people now only account for a smaller proportion of the West Midlands while older people account for a larger proportion.

These changes present massive opportunities for our ageing society;

  • living longer and healthier lives;
  • having more flexibility about career choices and;
  • creating stronger links between the age generations.

Many people however, are not preparing well for their longer lives and employers and service providers in all sectors will now need to adapt to the changing needs of our older population.

Government has recognised that services and existing polices now needs to adapt to take account for the emerging ageing society.  Older people voices at local, regional and national level must be heard in order to influence future Government decisions around service provision and policy development

To help meet the challenges presented by our ageing society, in 2005 the Government published “Opportunity Age – meeting the challenges of ageing in the 21st century”, putting in place a series of indicators to monitor performance. 

Building a Society for All Ages is the Government's strategy for how we as a society make the most of the demographic change we are living through, and sets out our vision for a ‘society for all ages. It develops Opportunity Age, which has now largely been delivered.

Building a Society for All Ages sets out a coordinated package of strategic reforms including a major programme of pension reform, legislation to ensure age equality, and options for reform of care and support. It also includes a programme of initiatives to enable people to prepare for and live well in later life. This package as a whole will support the changes that we all need to make so that we can live longer, healthier and more active later lives.

The Elbourne Report

In May 2008, the Minister for Pensions Reform confirmed their commitment to citizen engagement by commissioning John Elbourne to report on ‘the current arrangements for the engagement of older people and how these arrangements influence policy at all levels of Government’

John Elbourne’s final report to Government made several recommendations some of which is shown below;

  • Establish a UK Advisory Forum for Older People chaired or co-chaired by the lead government Minister for older people supported by the regional advisory forums;
  • Set up Regional Advisory Forums enhancing the roles of Government Offices and improving communications between local, regional and national levels;
  • Regional Advisory Forums addressing the relevant finds from the Audit commission’s Report ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by supporting their respective local authorities to develop effective engagement strategies, to ensure a true diversity of older people’s voices are heard.

Government’s response to the John Elbourne’s report is outlined in the Empowering Engagement: a stronger voice for older people booklet.

To encourage the development of local and regional communication channels, the Government is taking action and putting in place regional coordinators to strengthen the network of local authority forums.  Local and regional communication channels are being developed to:

• identify common themes that need to be brought to the attention of national government;
• provide direction and leadership on local and regional issues affecting older people; and
• help to spread good practice locally and regionally.

In the region, The West Midlands Later Life Forum (WMLLF) is now currently being set up with the support of GOWM’s regional coordinator, to help embed issues that are affecting older people in region. They will also ensure the views and needs of the older generation are incorporated within future regional planning and strategy development.

Internet links

Contact information

Economic & Social Inclusion Team
5 St Philip's Place
Colmore Row
B3 2PW
tel: 0121 352 5050
fax: 0121 352 5578
email: laterlife@gowm.gsi.gov.uk

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