When Chancellor George Osborne said he was putting “the next generation first” in his Budget this week, it raised a question. So which generation is he putting last?

At Anchor, we’re interested in recognising the important links between generations and the importance of both older and younger generations supporting each other to plan ahead wherever possible. That was why we developed our Grey Matters campaign to help people start the often difficult conversations about how you want to live in later life.

It’s also why we’ve been keen to encourage successive governments to spend more time preparing for our ageing society. Longer lives are one of the biggest achievements of the modern world and government policy needs to reflect that huge success.

There are some signs that politicians are starting to appreciate this. A report by the Select Committee on National Policy for the Built Environment highlighted the importance of planning for an ageing society.

As the committee found: “By mid-2039 one in 12 of the population is projected to be aged 80 or over. Built environment policy will need to account for these changes.”

Good retirement housing, well-maintained pavements and decent seating in public spaces may not get journalists salivating quite in the way the sugar tax has – but they have an equally important role in keeping people fit, well and happy – and reducing demand for the NHS. 

Poor quality pavements and dimly-lit streets make many older people less likely to venture out, contributing to social isolation, a significant factor in people’s physical and mental health. Similarly, the estimated annual cost of falls among older people is £1 billion each year and almost two-thirds of general and acute hospital beds are occupied by people aged over 65.

Housing and care that reflects older people’s needs doesn’t just benefit the current generation of older people. It benefits us all – not least because it reduces demands on the NHS as our work in Birmingham and elsewhere shows.

To borrow another phrase popular with the Chancellor, when it comes to ensuring we all get the best out of later life – we are all “in it together”.

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