A new council of specialists from across society is to be created to develop attractive products and services that help people of all ages to live better and more independent lives as they grow older.
The number of people aged over 65 is set to nearly double to more than 20 million in under 50 years and the UK Longevity Council will advise how best to use innovations in technology, products and services to improve the lives of our ageing population.
It is part of the government’s Ageing Society Grand Challenge and is designed to harness the power of innovation to meet the changing needs of an older society. It also aims to ensure that people across the UK enjoy an extra five years of healthy and independent living by 2035 while narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and the poorest.
A growing market for age-related products and services
The UK Longevity Council will bring together business leaders, health experts and others from society to advise the government on how to help everyone lead healthier lives while exploring how the UK can position itself to lead the world in the growing market for age-related products and services.
The council will act as a forum for interactions and discussions between policymakers, industry, researchers and the public in the area of ageing, and will advise on:
- How we can think differently about work, finances, housing, communities and health, and explore new technologies, products and services that will benefit and enrich our older population
- What the government’s high-level priorities should be in relation to demographic change
- Supporting both local and international work to ensure the UK is a global leader and UK businesses can capitalise on global opportunities
Andy Briggs, business leader and insurance industry expert, has been appointed as the government’s new Business Champion for the Ageing Society Grand Challenge and will co-chair the UK Longevity Council with Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock.
Technology and design innovation can support everyone to age well
To support the Grand Challenge, the government will shortly open the competitions for the £98 million Healthy Ageing Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, to develop attractive products and services that help people of all ages to live better and more independent lives as they grow older.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: "Keeping people healthy and independent is absolutely central to our vision for our healthcare system. Living longer should be celebrated but we need to think seriously about how we can adapt society more widely to meet older people’s needs. We must use our industry’s incredible abilities in technology, design and innovation in new, thoughtful ways to support everyone to age well.
"Business has a vital role to play in providing inclusive products and services that are attractive to our older population and can enable everyone to stay living at home for longer and keep active. I look forward to working with Andy Briggs and the rest of the Longevity Council to help the UK lead the way in thinking creatively and originally about ageing."
Societal prejudice against ageing
George McNamara, Director of Policy and Influencing at Independent Age, welcomed the news but said that it was also important to break down the barriers that represent a societal prejudice against ageing
He said: “Ageing well is one of the biggest challenges we face as a country, yet embedded stereotypes and institutional barriers across society often result in older people being excluded when it comes to jobs, finances, housing and accessing public services. Sadly, many people in later life suffer discrimination based on age, have difficulties accessing appropriate housing and financial services, and lose involvement in their community. They are also hit by a social care system that can result in care costs that are catastrophic for themselves or their families.
“There is an overwhelming economic and social case for making the UK the best place to grow old in the world. As well as breaking down the barriers that represent a societal prejudice against ageing, it is vital that we grasp the potential of new technology and innovation.
“The UK is well-placed to become the world leader in this field. It is vital that this new body looks across government, businesses and older people themselves when it comes to ageing, as all parts of society have a role to play.”