The West Midlands faces an old-age timebomb – and the Government is refusing to face up to the challenge, a damning new report claimed.
The aging population of the future will need more healthcare and better pension provision, an inquiry by the House of Lords concluded.
It said there needed to be major change in attitudes with the elderly – with an end to the assumption that older people stopped working entirely once they reached retirement age.
Instead, they should be allowed to wind down gradually by moving to part- time work, said peers.
The elderly population in the West Midands will double over the next 20 years, the study found.
There were 124,400 people in the region aged more than 85 in 2010, but that is expected to increase to 251,400 by 2030.
In Birmingham alone, the population aged more than 85 will rise from 19,800 to 30,700, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The number of people aged 65 or over in the West Midlands was 937,700 in 2010 and this will rise to 1,362,500 by 2030, an increase of 45 per cent.
Last week, the head of the National Audit Office, Amyas Morse, warned that Government “should be more active and effective in influencing citizens to save more and plan more effectively for retirement, and in seeking to change the negative attitudes of some employers towards older workers”.
And a Lords report published earlier this year concluded that Britain was “woefully underprepared for ageing”.
But Peers claimed Ministers were failing to act.
Lord Filkin, chairman of the Lords Select Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change, said: “Our rapidly ageing society is our biggest social change, profoundly affecting our economy, public services, finances and every person and family in the country. The Government’s weak response has failed again to address this and is deeply disturbing.”
In particular, the committee said it wanted the Government to draw up a set of policies aimed at tackling the challenges of an ageing population, which would be published in a White or Green Paper.
“Government and all political parties prefer to keep the public in the dark in the run-up to the election about the looming challenges to our welfare settlement. Yet how political parties will address these imminent challenges ought to be central to the election debate.”
The number of people aged 65 with dementia across England and Wales is expected to rise by over 80 per cent by 2030.
In a response to the report published by the Department for Health, Ministers said: “We are committed to working across Government, with local areas and with the public to ensure we can all look forward to later life.
“That is why we are undertaking radical and substantial reform of public service provision, to help meet the demands of our changing society.”
Measures already taken included capping the cost of social care at £72,000, so people did not have to sell their homes to pay for it, the Government said.
New laws also ensure employees are automatically enrolled into workplace pensions unless they opted out.