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Author: Age NI
Published on 15 February 2011 04:30 PM

The NI Executive’s budget plans will fail older people says Age NI.Anne O’Reilly, Age NI Chief Executive says, ‘There is a fundamental error in the budget planning laid out by the NI Executive – the glaring omission to take account of our ageing population.

'79% of older people here tell us that they are concerned that government spending cuts will affect them (i) and their fears are more than justified.  Meeting the needs of an ageing population has financial implications for all Departments, yet the draft budget and departmental spending plans fail to reflect this pressing issue.  What we have seen from the Executive is not a holistic approach to budget planning that acknowledges the need to invest now to save later, but rather thirteen stand-alone and fragmented budget plans that show no sign of cross-departmental communication or discussion.’ 

Anne continued, ‘Age NI took a proactive approach to influencing budget planning, recognising the challenges that our fiscal environment is presenting our politicians and decision-makers.  We developed Opportunities for Ageing (ii), a briefing paper circulated to all Ministers, MLAs, Departments and Agencies to highlight the need to place demographic ageing at the heart of budget planning, and commissioned research to inform our evidence base, yet the draft budget and the Departmental plans fail to acknowledge, prioritise and deliver the progressive policies required for our changing demographic.  An ageing demographic brings experience, potential and opportunity, but sometimes age needs support.  Take our health and social care system for instance; up to the age of 79, health and social care costs range from £1,000-£4,000 yet rise dramatically up to £12,000 for someone over 85.  By 2030, it is projected that there will be more than 130,000 people over 80 in Northern Ireland and yet the Executive has failed to demonstrate how it will manage now, let alone in 20 years.’

‘Age NI has called time and time again for a fundamental shift in how social care is delivered.  We have shown that a focus on prevention can produce early outcomes in the increase in health-related quality of life, and greater efficiency for health and social care, yet we have not being listened to.   Equally, the prevailing social view that care of our older population is a burden has a direct impact on how older people are treated and this can only be overcome by a major shift in attitude from one of benevolent prejudice to a system where dignity, independence and choice underpins the health and social care system.  This too needs political leadership.   If our Executive is failing to invest in the needs of our ageing population today, financially and socially, then we are putting current and future generations at risk if this situation is allowed to deteriorate.  Yes, the NI Executive is faced with difficult choices, but the right hard choices must be made to ensure that we are not storing up even more costly problems for the future.’

For more information: Call Age NI Advice: 0808 808 7575