District councils call for more cash for ageing populations
By Richard Johnstone | 2 August 2012
District councils have called for extra government cash as a study revealed they are disproportionately affected by ageing populations
An analysis of the 2011 census by the District Councils Network found there had been a 3.2% increase in the number of people aged over 60 in two-tier council areas of England between 2001 and 2011. This is almost double the 1.6% average increase across all types of local authorities in England and Wales in the same period.
Two-tier council areas in England now have the largest percentage of people aged 60 and above (25.6%), overtaking Welsh unitary authorities (25.1%).This is also higher than the 22.5% of the population in English unitary authorities, 21.1% in metropolitan boroughs and 14.7% in London boroughs.
In the analysis of the figures, the DCN has said an ageing population was ‘widely acknowledged as the largest cost pressure facing the public sector in the coming years’. The group called for Whitehall to acknowledge the ‘unique pressures' this would have on services, and ‘take these into account throughout the policy making and funding allocations process’.
The report follows a Local Government Association study showing councils face a £16.5bn funding gap by 2020 due to the growing costs of ageing, including in adult social care.
The DCN report, published on Tuesday, stressed that while there has been a focus on the rising costs of adult social care funded by county councils, little attention has been paid to the impact on districts of older populations.
For instance, the growth of pensioners will increase demand on council tax support once it is localised to town halls from April 2013.
Funding for the benefit is being cut by 10% when it is devolved but pensioners’ eligibility is protected. The DCN warned this would limit the availability of the benefit for working-age claimants.
The group also stressed that ‘districts can, and will, rethink the way they deliver their services in light of the prevailing socioeconomic climate’, and would reallocate funding between services where possible.