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Ageing population ‘will impact businesses of all sizes’

Number of people aged over 85 is set to double by 2044

The UK’s ageing population will impact businesses of every size, as well as the NHS and care sectors, it has been warned.

It comes after new population projections from the Office for National Statistics revealed the proportion of people aged 85 years and over is projected to almost double of the next 25 years.

Meanwhile, the number of people of pension age will rise from 12.8 million in 2018 to 15.9 million in 2043.

Anne Willmot, age campaign director at Business in the Community, a charity and the Prince’s responsible business network, said the rise in the number of people aged over 85 will bring about unprecedented societal change.

“The impact of people living longer will impact not just the NHS and care sectors but also businesses of every size,” she stated. “The idea that we will be able to retire in our early or mid-60s will, for many, soon be a pipe dream.”

Wilmot added that with people healthier for longer and needing to maintain a decent level of income to support themselves, a sizeable percentage will want or need to remain in the workplace beyond state pension age.

“Businesses will also have to adapt to the fact that more employees will need to be part-time carers as their parents live longer,” she said. “We’re currently working with companies to get a million more older workers into the workplace, but far too many businesses continue to sleep walk their way into a serious crisis.”

Ian Browne, pensions expert at Quilter, said the cost of the state pension, the provision of social care and the funding of the NHS are all going to need to be suitable for generations to come, but each is woefully underfunded currently. 

“Of those three, the complete lack of a social care policy and strategy is glaring. We urgently need action as we are already at a crisis point,” he warned. 

Alistair McQueen, head of savings and retirement at Aviva, added: “Today we have a record number of 10 million people in work beyond the age of 50, but we are continuing to see a collapse in employment participation as workers progress towards their 60s. This represents a huge loss of talent, experience and potential that the UK can no longer afford.”

The statistics also predict the UK population will soar by three million over the next decade to 69.4 million and then reach 72.4 million by mid-2043.