Life expectancy in the UK rises, plus the need for more care home places to cope with the ageing population.
Life expectancy here in the UK has risen slightly, but the rate of increase has slowed significantly, official statistics show. The slowdown may be due to previous successes in defeating major causes of early death, though some link it to cuts in NHS and social care funding
Since 2010, yearly increases in life expectancy at birth have dropped by more than half for males and by nearly two-thirds for females, compared with the preceding three decades. Life expectancy for a newborn boy was 79.2 years in 2014-16, while for a newborn girl it was 82.9 years. For both sexes, the rise was just 0.1 years more than 2013-15.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS), which uses three-yearly periods to offset the effects of fluctuations caused by seasonal events such as flu, found that improvements in life expectancy at birth for males in the UK slowed to six weeks a year between 2010-12 and 2014-16, compared with 13.6 weeks between 1980-82 and 2009-11. The slowdown was even more dramatic for females, with the yearly increase falling from 10 weeks to 3.6 weeks.
What else the statistics show
• Life expectancy at age 65 in the UK has slightly increased. In 2014-16 it was 18.5 years for males and 20.9 years for females. In other words, a man aged 65 could expect to live to age 83.5 and a woman to 85.9, up 4.7 weeks and 3.6 weeks respectively from 2013-15.
• The proportion of UK males who could expect to reach at least age 90 was 21% in 2014-16 and the figure was 32% for women, compared with 5% and 14% respectively in 1980-82.
• The estimated number of people aged 100 and over in the UK in 2016 was 14,910, up from 14,520 in 2015 and almost double the number in 2002. The number of people aged 90 and over was estimated at 571,245, the highest ever.
Care home place shortfall by 2022?
Responding to research by Which? showing almost nine in 10 council areas across England could face a shortfall in care home places by 2022, Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “These findings reinforce our warning about the urgent need to reform adult social care and deliver a long-term sustainable solution that delivers a range of high quality care and support for the growing numbers of people who will need it.
“While the £2 billion announced in the Spring Budget for social care was a step in the right direction, it is only one-off funding and social care services still face an annual £2.3 billion funding gap by 2020. But councils need to be given the freedom and flexibility to spend the additional funding for social care in the places where they feel it will be most effective.
“It is absolutely critical that the Government uses the Autumn Budget to bring forward its consultation for social care announced in the Queen’s Speech, and that it works with local government leaders in delivering a long-term sustainable solution for social care. To tackle the problems we face tomorrow, we must start planning today.”