Population 'time bomb' fear as British live for longer
People in England and Wales have longer life expectancy than ever - which is not all good news
PEOPLE IN England and Wales are living longer than ever before – but while that is seen as a positive result of better diet and health care, it is also creating a "time bomb" of stress on the health service and pension providers.
New figures from the Office of National Statistics suggest that most men will live to 85 and women to 89 - and for children born today those average limits are likely to rise. Since 1970, men and women have gained over ten years of life expectancy, usually explained by much better diets and a dramatic decrease in rates of smoking in England and Wales.
However, the country's ageing population is putting huge demands on heathcare resources. In the last decade, spending on health has more than doubled from £53 billion in 2000/01 to £120 billion in 2010/11.
Dr Jonathan Cave, a population expert at Warwick University, told the Daily Telegraph a "tug-of-war" for hospital beds and health treatments will only get worse.
"We can expect, as more and more of the extremely elderly people come in to the population, resources will be diverted to them," he said. "There is a potential tug-of-war, particularly for the health system."
People may live longer but they are going to have to work longer as well, claim experts. Andrew Tully, pensions director at MGM Advantage, told The Guardian the general population still underestimates how long they will live – and how much they need to save.
"We need to make sure that we are measuring it properly and taking that into account when we look at state pension age," he said. "It is not a popular subject and I understand that, but it is almost a wake-up call that people are going to have to work longer."