The Office for National Statistics has found that the number of pensioners in the UK now outnumbers those under the age of 16 for the first time. Ageing populations and a decreasing number of births across Europe isn’t a new trend, but this particular statistic raises very serious concerns in the UK.
The proportion of people paying into the pensions system versus those receiving benefits will decrease in the coming years. This raises concerns for how pensions will be paid to the growing number of people eligible to receive them. But the sheer number of people is only one part of the problem. Statistics also show that the projected life expectancy for children born in the last few years is around 90 years of age. The current system was designed for people to spend between 10 and 15 years receiving a pension. But with trends continuing on as they are, the scheme will be put under an incredible amount of stress. Pensions and healthcare for an aging population will be increasingly difficult to afford on a pay as you go basis. The government needs to be prepared for a population of people spending up to 25 years in retirement. The system simply wasn’t built to last.
With these concerns in mind, the government needs to anticipate the continuing change in age demographics. Increasing efficiency in the NHS, stopping handing out gold-plated, final salary pensions to public sector workers and decreasing wasteful spending will make this transition a much easier process. Calling on the government to cut waste, be more efficient and slow the creeping expansion of government will mean more than ever in the future. The system simply will not function in its current state under these conditions.