Newcastle City Council leader warns of old-age challenge

Nick Forbes, Labour leader of Newcastle City Council, will set out his fears at a summit of big city leaders in London

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes
Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes

A rapidly aging population is a "big challenge of our age" the leader of Newcastle City Council will warn today as he urges Government to help big cities cope with spiralling care bills and pressure on hospitals.

Nick Forbes, Labour leader of Newcastle City Council, will set out his fears at a summit of big city leaders in London.

But he will also say that cities are ready to step up to the challenge of providing care and keeping costs down - if they get the backing they need from Whitehall, including more control over local social care and health services.

It follows warnings that the North East is ill-prepared to cope with an old-age timebomb. A House of Lords inquiry earlier this year warned that the ageing population of the future will need more healthcare and better pension provision, but the Government was failing to prepare.

There were 56,600 people in the region aged over 85 in 2010, but this is expected to reach 108,600 by 2030.

Coun Forbes will speak at an event organised by the Core Cities group, which includes the eight largest cities in the country outside London. Cities Minister Greg Clark and Labour’s shadow infrastructure minister Lord Adonis will take part.

He will argue that local government led the way in transforming British society in the 19th century, replacing slums with good housing and stopping cholera by providing clean water.

And it can improve people’s lives today if it is given greater independence, he will say.

He is expected to say: “We want to create age-friendly cities that value the tremendous social and economic contribution of our elders.

“Instead, we are faced with spiralling bills for social care, creating unsustainable costs, and crowding out spending on services which help keep people active and healthy.

“Pressures on our A&E departments, while the services that could have prevented the need for emergency care are struggling for resources.”

The Government should let major cities take charge - because they could provide services at lower cost, he will tell the group. The core cities are willing to take responsibility for a new approach. We need to break through the institutional barriers that get in the way.

“A more locally-accountable health and social care service, a whole system approach which saves money, and improves care and life chances.

“The evidence has shown that this integrated approach could save up to 15% on delivery costs, for reinvestment into services which improve outcomes for our most frail and vulnerable citizens.”

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