Bold action needed to tackle ageing society challenges

A new report from the International Longevity Centre outlines bold new ideas that could be embraced so that the UK can benefit more from our greater longevity after years of inaction.

Woman caring for elderly relative


A new report calls for bold action to capitalise on our greater longevity after years of procrastination and for a Parliamentary Demographic Change Select Committee to be set up to audit the government’s progress.

The report, One hundred not out: A route map for long lives, published today by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC), also calls for the appointment of a cross-governmental inter-ministerial group focused on future generations, led by a cabinet minister, that reports regularly to Parliament. Its remit would be “to consider demographic change, the implications of technological change and environmental sustainability, over a long-term horizon”.

It highlights how society and Government need to rethink and invest more in public policies to ensure a more equitable and healthier lifetime, given life expectancy which was growing for many years has been stalling since 2013 amid growing social inequality.

The report says what is needed is action to promote the benefits of longer lives, to address ageism and to focus on prevention of ill health and poverty throughout people’s lives. It states that “too little modelling of the costs of ageing considers how an increasingly economically active older population could add to economic growth rather than take away from it”.

It sets out wide-ranging ideas for improving health, tackling poverty, building community infrastructure and helping people build relationships and have fun throughout their lives. Among the issues it tackles is work. It cites new research that almost one in ten people (9.54%) aged between 50 and the State Pension Age left work involuntarily in 2023.

It says: “The state pension age is still set significantly higher than healthy life expectancy in many parts of the country, and workplaces aren’t adequately adapted to health needs. And wide health inequalities persist.”

Measures to address this include:

  • Providing funding for employees of all ages to pursue age discrimination claims through the courts
  • Using business rate relief and tax incentives to support the development of co-working hubs and community spaces based within communities
  • Requiring all jobs to be ‘flexible by default’ and encouraging employers to look at reducing hours/4-day weeks
  • Developing Occupational Health Hubs alongside JobCentre Plus
  • Ensuring all workers have access to Midlife MOTs
  • Creating a new scheme to encourage workplace savings; an escalator on auto-enrolment minimum contributions and new ways for self-employed people to save

Other broader measures to promote health include:

  • Ensuring that at least 6% of health spending goes towards preventative activity while embracing the ‘nanny state’ with new measures to curb unhealthy behaviour
  • Opening an innovation fund – the Healthy Ageing Challenge 2.0 – with a focus on developing and scaling new ideas to improve health, adapt workplaces and tackle isolation and loneliness.
  • Creating a new Duke of Edinburgh Award offering fun, fitness, skills development alongside social action for people of all ages
  • Developing new multigenerational community hubs building on the best of Sure Start Centres, community hubs and neighbourhood networks.

The report also proposes some “bold ideas” for more ambitious changes. These include setting up citizens’ panels with the power to make proposals directly to Parliament; developing a new ‘Lifetime Work Standard’, guaranteeing flexible working arrangements, support for carers and access to training and occupational health; and providing financial incentives for physical activity.

David Sinclair, ILC’s Chief Executive, said: “Over a decade ago, a House of Lords cross-party committee warned that we weren’t ready for our ageing future. We still aren’t. Today we also need to consider the growing challenges around long-term environmental sustainability and the implications of technological changes alongside the way we approach human longevity.

“The opportunities for long lives are enormous, but politicians have not been honest enough about the trade-offs we’ll have to make now to reap the rewards of long lives in the decades to come.

“We need an honest debate about how we want to carve up our long lives to deliver the things we want and need – to work, to contribute, to learn, to love, to have fun and to care and be cared for. Getting the balance right will mean doing things differently. We need high-level, cross-governmental work on demographic change. We need to recognise that we might need the state to intervene more in some areas, but we’re also going to have to ask individuals to take more opportunity and even risk in others.”


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