Norfolk charity boss fears for older people

The chief executive of a charity which fights for older people has warned the government is in danger of not planning properly for Norwich and Norfolk's ageing population.

Phil Wells, chief executive of Age UK Norwich, said there needs to be more long-term thinking or future generations will be failed by the government.

Mr Wells made his comments as a survey by the charity showed 63pc of people in the East of England believe spending cuts have left the country less prepared for an ageing population.

The poll coincided with Age UK's Agenda for Later Life 2011 report, which says, with the number of people aged 60 or over set to rise by 50pc in the next 25 years, government minisers have yet to grapple with the long-term issues.

According to the survey, 85pc of people in the East think the national government is not prepared for future needs of elderly people and 75pc believe their own local council is not ready to deal with the issue.

Mr Wells said: 'We believe there is a real need to join up the dots and think long term. If responding to demographic change is filed away as 'too difficult' then our current leaders will fail future generations of both young and old as the demographic changes begin to take effect.

'If planned for properly, then an ageing population will be an opportunity for our society, but there must be a national debate on how to prepare.

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'Our polling shows that there is cross-generational support for protecting services for older people from the current spending cuts.

'We see recognition that providing help and support to those in later life is important for society as a whole.

'We want to see the government now start to address these issues in an intelligent, holistic way that encourages departments to work together to come up with different and better ways of working that will prepare us better for an ageing society.'

Norfolk County Council last month agreed a package of cuts as part of plans to save �155m over the next three years, but pulled back on some of the cuts which would have most hit the elderly.

They decided that plans to overhaul meals-on-wheels will be rolled out over two years instead of one and ditched proposals to scrap the sensory support service.

The council also abandoned proposals to tighten up the eligibility criteria for older people to access care. But there will still be cuts totalling �14.3m in the coming year and a further �26m and �10.3m in the two years after that.

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