Later Life  

Ageing population creates opportunity, say MPs

Ageing population creates opportunity, say MPs

A group of MPs has been set up to focus on the positives, rather than the problems, of an ageing UK population.

The all-party parliamentary group for longevity launched yesterday (May, 7) chaired by Conservative MP Damian Green.

The group’s aim is to address the scientific, technological and socio-economic issues which relate to the ageing population. 

But the MPs want to focus on the benefits of longevity as opposed to the problems of ageing to show the benefits of enabling a healthier and more productive life.

Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, said: “The prospect of the UK population living longer should be something all political parties can join in celebrating, particularly if the UK can take measures to help the population ‘age well’. 

“Reaching political agreement on how to reflect demographic change in government policy isn’t always easy so we welcome this new all-party parliamentary group for longevity.”

The APPG will use artificial intelligence and data-driven solutions to find the most effective ways to increase healthspan.

Other goals for this year include producing an independent review for a 'national strategy for healthy longevity' in the UK, to serve as the basis for a longer extended report which the government will debate in the House of Commons and House of Lords. 

The group also plans to hold discussions with financial services firms, insurance companies and pension funds on how they can develop their business model to maximise longevity dividends.

"The way people think of ‘retirement’ is already changing rapidly with 50% of people preferring to transition gradually from work into retirement, rather than stop completely at a traditional ‘retirement age", explained Mr Cameron.

“This trend is filtering into the labour market as we see an increasing number of over 65s in employment. Over the last ten years this figure has crept up steadily with nearly 11 per cent of over 65s now in work, more than double the 5 per cent in the year 2000. And with life expectancies rising, we also need to challenge what we mean by ‘old’ age. Particularly if we can live longer, healthier, could 80 be the new 65?”

The APPG is made up of four Conservative, one Labour, one Liberal Democrat and one crossbench MP.

Earlier this month Mr Green, the group's chairman, issued a report which proposed that social care provision should be modelled on the state pension, with taxpayers partially funding their care entitlement. 

He pointed out that social care provision is currently unstable and will only get worse in the future if reforms are not carried out. 

There are 5.3m over-75s currently, a number which is set to grow over the coming years, which means an increase in demand for social care which the current system will not be able to cope with, he said.

 “Longevity has major implications for retirement and social care. One of the most successful pensions policy interventions in recent years was automatic enrolment, and that’s at least partly because it won support from all parties,” said Mr Cameron.