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This publication features contributions from more than 20 leading public figures on the reforms necessary to ensure the future of the welfare state.

'Towards a new age' features contributions from more than 20 leading academics, parliamentarians and industry experts, discussing the reforms to housing, health, education, the labour market, pension and welfare needed to ensure the future sustainability of the UK welfare state.

Population ageing is likely to have profound implications for us all. At the International Longevity Centre, we are concerned with understanding what these implications might be and how best to mobilise public policy, industry endeavour and individual action in order to make the most of the opportunities as well as to mitigate the risks. Insofar as ageing poses a challenge, we think it important to understand its different dimensions through collaborative, multidisciplinary research and analysis.

In this context,this book attempts to explore two of the biggest questions of our time:

  • How might population ageing impact on the wide array of policies and institutions we call the UK welfare state?
  • What reforms to the welfare state might be necessary in order to ensure long run sustainability and maximise wellbeing?

To address these questions, we invited a number of experts across different fields to assess the challenges posed by ageing for the UK welfare state as well as the possible solutions. We do not claim to have all the answers, but it is our hope that this volume can act as a catalyst for a proper national debate about how we can reasonably deliver a social contract that is both fair to different social groups and generations as well as being sustainable in the long run.

We would hope that most readers will use the book as a point of reference for consultation; and so the chapters have been written so that they can be read in any order, separately or in groups.

'Towards a new age' provocatively argues that if governments make policy based purely to get re-elected, the welfare state could become so distorted that it might sow the seeds of its own demise. To move forward, we, as a society, need to understand the long-term consequences of such an arrangement. It is quite possible that by having an honest and open national debate about the possible economic and social consequences of ageing, public opinions could be reshaped and current political preferences challenged. It is certainly worth the risk.

The time for a proper debate on the future of the state has come.

Andrew Rear, Chief Executive, Munich Re UK said:

‘At this pivotal moment in our history, the UK needs to think through what kind of society we want to be, and build positively towards that, instead of drifting on a sea of soundbites towards fracture and uncertainty’.

Ben Franklin, Head of Economics of Ageing, ILC-UK said:

“Reform of the welfare state to ensure its future sustainability is not simply about pulling back the state. A reconfiguration of the state is what’s needed with retrenchment in some areas and expansion in others. Yet if governments make policy based purely to get re-elected, the welfare state could become so distorted that it might sow the seeds of its own demise.

To move forward, we, as a society, must better understand the long term consequences of ageing. It is quite possible that by having an open and honest national debate about the possible economic and social consequences, public opinions could be reshaped and political preferences challenged. This is not just relevant for the UK. The rest of the world is ageing too and at a significant rate. This is the future, it will shape us all profoundly, and we must adapt in order to make the most of it.”

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