Central South England needs to plan for an aging population

The scale of the aging challenge facing central southern England is highlighted by new research from the Southern Policy Centre. The research also reveals the scale of the care costs facing the region and its people.

By 2039 the number of over 65s will increase by 56.3%: up from 1.25 million to 1.95m.  Over 65’s will make up 1 in 4 of the population, up from 1 in 5 today. By comparison the total population will increase by 14.7%.

The changes will be most noticeable in Berkshire, where both Bracknell Forest and Slough will see a predicted increase of over 80% in the number of older people. Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey and West Sussex will all see increases of over 55% in their older population. Even cities such as Southampton and Portsmouth will see around a 50% growth in the number of older people. In every part of the central South over 65s will be a bigger proportion of our communities by 2039.

Our planning will have to take these changes into account. The economy will change with more older workers, we will need to make sure we are building the right types of homes for this shifting demography. And we will need to look carefully at how we can meet the inevitable demands an aging population will place on health and social care.

There are currently around 119,000 people aged over 65 receiving some form of home or residential care across the central South. We estimate that by 2039 the number of people receiving home care will be over 102,000 and the numbers receiving residential care will be around 83,000. Towards the end of their lives up to 30% may require care.

Whilst many people will be able to fund their own care if the current mix of privately and publicly funded care* is maintained nearly 90,000 people, or around a half of those requiring care, will be publicly funded. That represents a significant increase on the 57,000 people received publicly funded care in 2015/16. Councils in the central South currently spend over £825m on services for those over 65, including contributions from the NHS and the clients themselves. As the population grows and demand increases, so costs will become a bigger part of Council and NHS budgets.

Advances in care can only add to cost pressures, and central government, local government and the health sector will need to work together to manage those pressures. With our political leaders struggling with policies to address care costs, individuals will also need to think about the costs of care they might have to meet personally as they age.

The cost of social care, and the extent to which homeowners should be required to fund their own care, has become an important issue in the general election campaign. The SPC estimates that over 75% of those over 65 own their homes. By 2039 older people across the central South will own nearly 942,000 properties whose value, depending on future policy, could be taken into account to cover care costs.

John Denham, former Southampton Itchen MP, Government minister, and now Chair of the Southern Policy Centre, said:

“The social care system is widely acknowledged to be under real stress. Many approaches to funding social care rely on the value of the homes of older people. With so many older residents, and such high levels of home ownership, we need an urgent debate in southern England on the best and fairest approach to funding home and residential care.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

The Southern Policy Centre was established in 2014 to provide an independent voice for central southern England, covering the area from Dorset to West Sussex and from Hampshire and the Isle of Wight north to Oxfordshire. We have undertaken a variety of projects on topics from devolution to Higher Education, with local businesses, councils and universities, see www.southernpolicycentre.co.uk.

These data are based on ONS population projections.

* previous SPC research has shown that the numbers receiving publicly funded care has fallen in recent years – see ‘Health and Social Care in the South: http://southernpolicycentre.co.uk/2015/04/beyond-caring-the-south-and-the-collapse-of-adult-social-care/  Changes to Government policy may also affect that ratio.

Press contact Simon Eden, 0780 254 3618 or edens@southernpolicycentre.co.uk.