Councils play key role in helping people enjoy a good later life
We are living much longer. It is estimated that there will be 40% more people aged 85 and over in ten years’ time. What should local authorities do?
There are large differences in people’s chances of enjoying later life.
What should local authorities do to address this? First, face the facts; these changes will not go away. There are large differences in people’s chances of enjoying later life. Some will benefit and some are at risk of missing out. There are also major differences in the pressures faced by local authorities, which is why local leadership is so important.
The Centre for Ageing Better is an independent charitable foundation working to help everybody enjoy a good later life. We have found that three things determine chances for a better later life: good health, sufficient income and good social connections.
As a council, it is therefore important for you to establish what is happening in your area. What is the average life expectancy and how does it compare to other areas? How does it vary within your area? At what age do people in your area get limiting long-term illnesses or disability? Living longer and healthier lives is critical.
Next, find out how many people in your area are not in work in the age cohort from 50 years old to the state pension age. Being in work makes a difference to whether people will have enough money in later life and whether they remain active and socially connected. Each council needs to ask how it can support more people in their 50s to stay in work, keep healthy and active and socially connected.
Last week we announced our first locality partnership with Greater Manchester. This will seek to build on the pioneering work Manchester City Council has done to make the city age friendly and will extend this across Greater Manchester, as well as sharing the experience nationally.
One of our first areas focus will be to work with Greater Manchester to raise the economic activity rate of the population aged 50 to state pension age. The region knows that if it can do this it will support local economic growth, reduce poverty and lower welfare expenditure.
Employment rates for people living in the North West of England are significantly worse than the English average and in Greater Manchester almost one in three of the region’s 50-64 year olds are not working. It is estimated that boosting the number of people in work aged 50 years and over in the region to the all-age Greater Manchester average could increase Gross Value Added by as much as £901.6m.
Ageing Better and GMCA will also work together to ensure that current and future housing meets the needs of an ageing population. Ageing Better will capture evidence about what works to help ensure a good later life, and will work through the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub to apply this to drive improvements across Greater Manchester. The devolution deal for Greater Manchester and its high ambitions makes this a great innovation and learning test bed for us all.
Good health is fundamental to keeping in work and to having a good later life. So it is critical that all councils use their public health budgets to help people adopt healthier lifestyles and keep active in later life. If you want a good example of how an ambitious combined authority is addressing the health and wellbeing of its population read the summary of the impressive report, Taking Charge of our Health and Social Care in Greater Manchester.
But we want to work with other pioneering areas and councils too. So we are inviting other authorities that think they have pioneering plans to address their ageing society positively to get in touch and be considered for future collaboration with us.