IT is a matter of serious concern that parts of Yorkshire are ageing twice as fast as other areas of the country, and a further illustration of how the North-South divide is harming the economic and social well-being of our region.
Richmondshire, in North Yorkshire, is among the areas singled out today by the Resolution Foundation’s study that finds the UK is growing apart in age terms, with the sharpest divides being seen between rural and coastal communities and urban areas.
The consequences of this are worrying. Ageing populations are less economically active, so the places where they live can end up poorer. And following on from that, the already-struggling social care system is inevitably going to be placed under yet more pressure as it is faced with increasing numbers of older people.
Addressing this growing imbalance in our country is going to require long-term strategic action by the Government. At the heart of the problem is the inequality of funding for Yorkshire and the wider North.
If communities with a large proportion of older residents are to remain vibrant in both economic and social terms, investment has to be put in to encourage businesses to set up and provide work for younger people.
This must go hand-in-hand with initiatives to give the countryside, and the towns and villages within it, a better deal. One of the principal reasons the population of places like Richmondshire is growing older is that younger people are moving out.
They are priced out of housing, and have too few career opportunities, so move to urban areas where there are better chances of finding work and affording a home of their own.
Without action to encourage the young to stay, the future of such communities looks bleak, and that must not be allowed to happen.