The new census data underlies what statisticians, economists, politicians and most of the population have known for years: that Britain is ageing. The same is true in Kent. There are now more people aged 65 and over in Kent than children aged under 15. This is true for England and Wales as well.
The 2021 census data was released last week, and it shows that there have been some remarkable changes in the growth of certain age groups between 2011 and 2021, across all 12 Kent districts, (not including Medway).
To be be clear the percentage of 0-4 year olds has fallen by -2%, as the graph was too small to include it.
There are now more people aged 65 and over in all 12 Kent districts than children aged under 15. Just over one in five people are aged over 65 in Kent making up 20.25%.
In 2021 there were 334,400 children aged under 15 and 365,100 people aged over 65 across all 12 Kent Districts. In 2011 there were 314,575 children aged under 15, and 284,661 people aged over 65 in all 12 Kent Districts, according to census data in 2011 and 2021.
The sweeping implications of this demographic revolution in Kent and the country can scarcely be overestimated. From Tory pressure on Boris Johnson over tax and spend, to the crisis in ambulance waiting times, so many of the pressing issues of the day are being impacted by the large cohort of people who have worked their way into older age.
Despite years to plan, however, many experts are questioning whether Kent County Council has prepared properly for the economic, cultural and political changes this is driving. There are those who believe there was a lack of strategic planning and from the evidence available, it would appear it is a case of too little too late.
Aideen Young, of the Centre for Ageing Better, described the census figures as another wake-up call, showing the urgency needed to change attitudes to work, reach older people in poverty, make homes that are suitable for them to live in – and tackle a pervasive ageism that she says remains firmly in place. “In spite of the fact that we’ve known that this is happening, are we getting it right? No, we definitely don’t think so,” she said.
In 2016 the report future-of-an-ageing-population commissioned by David Cameroon, made sweeping recommendations on work, training, housing, health, transport, technology and care. There was just one problem: it was published within weeks of the 2016 EU referendum, and National, County & District councils have been fighting the growing crisis ever since.
The ageing process isn’t just about longer lives, but also a relative drop in younger workers. Birth rates are down and immigration across Kent and the country is being reduced. It was known there was going to be a very tight labour market but Brexit and the pandemic have made that so much worse for us.
It is more likely than not the pension age may well have to increase again. This is an issue being studied by an independent review for the Department for Work and Pensions
In five of Kent’s districts, Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone & Hythe, Sevenoaks, and Thanet areas have an older age profile than the rest of Kent so will naturally experience higher numbers of deaths to births.
That said the age group of 65+ has grown quite remarkably in the last ten years.
Kent County Council’s Adult Social Care budget will be severely impacted in the years ahead and no doubt the extra levy of 3% will no doubt have to rise, if we are to deal properly with this significant and important issue.
At this moment in time, the released 2021 data does not allow us to drill any deeper and find possible correlations, or exact causation’s. One must not forget correlation does not mean causation, so it will be a little while longer before we can possible state, what if any possible causes of those over 65+ growing in larger numbers, than most of the other age ranges, might be.
The Shepway Vox Team
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