Age NI is calling on decision makers to make the right economic decisions and put older people at the heart of public policy, as part of the Autumn Spending Review.
Research commissioned by Age NI has found that 79% of older people are concerned they will be affected by government spending cuts1.
The charity’s briefing paper, Opportunities for Ageing, has been issued to policy makers across NI, and advises government that, in light of our ageing society, the wrong spending decisions now will store up costly problems for the future.
The briefing paper focuses on poverty, health and social care, and equality and human rights in relation to older people and reveals some stark statistics:
By 2030 it is estimated that the percentage of older people of retirement age will increase to almost one fourth of the total population.
It is estimated that the cost of treating older people is expected to grow by 30.6% over the next ten years.
Figures show that pensioner poverty in Northern Ireland has significantly increased over the past year with 23% of older people in Northern Ireland living in poverty compared to 16% in the UK4.
Anne O’Reilly, Chief Executive of Age NI said,
‘The United Nations has called the current global ageing trend a situation ‘without parallel in the history of humanity5.’ The Treasury projects that the annual cost our ageing population will amount to over 2% of GDP by 2029-20306. This will have serious consequences for the future.
‘In light of the potential social and economic impact of our ageing society, the right hard choices need to be made now. The wrong choices mean that we store up costly problems for the future.
‘Age NI recognises that reductions in public expenditure are inevitable, but there is a real danger that cuts on the scale expected will have a major impact on older people, specifically those who need extra care and support to live active and fulfilled lives.’
Ms O’Reilly added, ‘In Opportunities for Ageing, Age NI asks for firm commitments from government to place older people at the heart of public policy by making a more determined effort to address pensioner poverty through the introduction of automatic payments of benefits. We also call for a commitment to maintain current spending on social care until a fundamental review of the social care system in Northern Ireland takes place. Ultimately we believe any cuts should be subject to rigorous equality impact assessment to ensure that those who bear the brunt of the greatest inequality are protected.’