Ageing is seen as a problem, rather than as an opportunity for society and for individuals.
The opportunity of an ageing society
Population projections show that in 2024, more than one in four of us will be over 60. In the UK today there are now about as many people aged 60 and over as there are aged 18 and below.
Many people do enjoy a good later life, but others risk ill-health, poverty and loneliness. And at the same time, many people in mid-life are struggling to get by and aren’t in a position to think about planning for the future. Our fundamental purpose is to drive the changes needed so that more people will benefit from their longer lives.
How we came about
Our chair Lord Filkin chaired the House of Lords Select Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change, which delivered the 2013 report Ready for Ageing? The report highlighted the gap between the 'reality and the response' – and how Government and our society are 'woefully underprepared' for a future with far greater numbers of older people, due to:
- A public policy stance which perceives ageing as a problem rather than an opportunity – and thus focuses on fixing this 'problem' rather than maximising the opportunities that increased ageing represents.
- A set of public services and institutions that prioritise the reactive over the preventative – and later interventions over earlier ones.
- A tendency to ignore the particular needs of older people when devising products and services.
- An under-utilisation of older people themselves and the assets and capabilities they can offer – to society as a whole, and to the management of their own wellbeing.
What Works Centre for Ageing
The government response to 'Ready for Ageing?' in July 2013 supported the creation of a What Works Centre for Ageing.
- In 2013 the Big Lottery Fund announced funding for Fulfilling Lives: Ageing Better, a commitment to invest in programmes that improve the lives of older people. Alongside this programme it also supported the development of the Centre for Ageing Better.
- By 2014 the first Trustees were appointed and initial research undertaken to better understand which aspects of ageing could best be tackled by the new organisation.
- This initial work helped us write a detailed business plan during 2014 which was used to secure a £50m endowment from the Big Lottery Fund (awarded in January 2015).
We have also been supported by further development funding from the Department of Health and from the Department for Communities and Local Government.