oldworkersThe government is woefully underprepared for the ageing society, the House of Lords committee on public service and demographic change has claimed.

A report from the committee pointed out that England will see a 50 per cent rise in the number of those aged 65+ and a 100 per cent increase in those aged 85+ between 2010 and 2030. And it warned that this rapidly ageing population will have a huge impact on society and public services and unless the government and all political parties address this, living longer lives could lead to a series of crises.

Ensuring a good quality of life for these older people will need major changes to be made in employment practices, pensions, health and social care services, the report said. An ageing society will greatly increase the number of people with long-term health conditions, and health and social care services will need a radically different model of care to support such people in their own homes and in the community – and so avoid admissions to hospital which the NHS Alliance has said can often be dangerous.

The committee called on the coalition to publish a White Paper before the next general election setting out how society needs to prepare for a longer life. And it called on all political parties to consider the wider implications of the ageing society in their manifestos.

Committee chair Lord Filkin said: “As a country we are not ready for the rapid ageing of our population. The amazing gift of longer life is to be welcomed, but our society and politicians need to address the implications, and the changes needed to attitudes, policies and services so people are best able to benefit from it.”

He added: “Health and social care need to be radically reformed; both are failing older people now. A big shift in services is essential so that the many more older people with long-term conditions can be well cared for and supported in their own homes and in the community and not needlessly end up in hospital. All health services and social care must be integrated to help achieve this.

“This is not a distant issue; our population is older now and will get more so over the next decade. The public are entitled to an honest conversation about the implications.”