New Lords Committee on impact of demographic change on public services to hold first evidence session

04 July 2012

The House of Lords Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change will open its inquiry with an evidence session on Thursday 5 July with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Professor Ludi Simpson of Manchester University.

The Committee, Chaired by Lord Filkin, is looking into the impact of an ageing population on public services. The Committee will provide a broad assessment of both the fiscal and practical challenges for public services from an ageing population at a time when public sector spending is being reduced and there are increasing demands and expectations.

Some of the broad areas the Committee will consider are:

  • What challenges will an ageing population pose for society and for public actions? What will be the impact on individuals, families, communities and government?
  • Do these challenges require strategic changes to what the state and individuals do? Is there a risk that the increasing costs of an ageing population could challenge expenditure on other priorities or raise issues of inter-generational equity? Do expectations of the Welfare State need to change and to consider the balance of responsibility between individuals and the state?
  • Do these challenges mean we need to re-think how the state acts? How can state actions be made more effective to address how we all age, promote active ageing and consider how an ageing population can be an asset as well as a cost? Should the state focus more on preventative measures?
  • Do these issues need to be addressed now? Is there adequate recognition of the implications of an ageing population? Should political parties be more explicit about the challenge and how they would tackle it?
  • What localities and regions will face particular challenges due to an ageing population and how can that be tackled?

The Committee will issue a full call for evidence on 16 July.

Commenting, Lord Filkin, Chairman of the Committee, said:

“Demographic changes, and in particular an ageing society, will create opportunities and challenges for us all. How individuals, families and government address this will be of enormous importance to us all over this decade and subsequent ones.

“There have been a number of studies on the impact of ageing on different public services such as the Wanless Report on the NHS and the Dilnot Commission report on long-term care, but there has not been an overall assessment of the potential impact which also makes broad recommendations for how public service providers should meet the increasing challenges of demographic change.

“We hope to provide that assessment, and expect our report, which will be published by February 2012 to influence a wide span of public policy for the future.”

The evidence session with the ONS and Professor Simpson will help the Committee identify the scale of the challenge of demographic change. The Committee will question the witnesses on ONS’ projections for an ageing population, how this compares with other nations and what impact changes such as migration, and the rise in obesity, might have on those projections.

The evidence session will take place on Thursday 5 July at 10.35am in Committee Room 1 and will be webcast live at www.parliamentlive.tv.

The evidence session is also open to the public. Journalists wishing to attend should go to Parliament’s Cromwell Green Entrance and should allow time for security screening.

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