Baroness Greengross said:

“Our society is in denial of the inevitability of ageing. We have put off the difficult decisions for far too long.

The Public Service and Demographic Change Committee argues that there has been a lack of vision and coherence in the ageing strategies of successive governments. This cannot continue.

It is fiscally vital that we get ageing right. Age-related spending in the UK is projected to rise from an annual cost of 21.3% to 26.3% of GDP between 2016/17 and 2061/62, equivalent to a rise of around £79bn in today’s money.

But addressing the cost of ageing is just the start of the challenge.

The report paints a picture of a health and care system which doesn’t work for today’s older population. Similarly our communities, housing and transport systems are ill equipped for the challenges ahead.

We must not be afraid to tell people that they are likely to need to work longer and that state pension ages may need to increase further as healthy life expectancy changes.

As individuals we will all need to take more responsibility for preventing ill health. Older people will, as the Committee highlights, need to use the value of their homes to partly fund their retirement.

But for individuals to plan for the long term, they need certainty about future policy direction. The lack of a strategic approach by Government undermines confidence in long term planning.

There is a role not just for Government and individuals, but also for the private sector. The financial services industry must respond better to the challenges of ageing. The market failure highlighted by the committee cannot continue. It is clear that parts of the industry want to serve this growing market. Government must create the right conditions for the financial services industry to thrive and deliver products and services to help us manage as we age.

This important and wide ranging report must kick start a new debate about age, and Government must not shy away from difficult decisions.

Now is the time for action. Tomorrow’s pensioners will not thank us for continuing to ignore this issue.”

Notes: The House of Lords Public Service and Demographic Change Committee, Ready for Ageing? will be published on 14th March 2013.


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