YORKSHIRE’S AGEING population is not just about the county’s changing demographics. It’s also fundamental to social policy – and the type of society that this country aspires to become in the future.
As The Yorkshire Post begins a special series, it goes without saying that all people of more mature years have a lot to offer. And while these changes will, inevitably, place health and care services under greater strain in the future, hence political efforts to identify a more sustainable funding model, this challenge is, in many regards, as an opportunity.
Given it is well-known that will be a greater preponderance of over-65s in towns and villages as young people migrate towards Yorkshire’s cities, or further afield to pursue their careers, contemporary issues now like the future of high streets, provision of key services in rural areas and steps to combat conditions like loneliness are relevant to the future.
As such, Richmond MP Rishi Sunak – a junior local government minister – is right when he says that work planning for these shifts in society needs to begin now. The issue, however, is doing so when many councils are having to make another round of swingeing cuts and when there’s so little policy co-ordination on the ground.
In this regard, today’s findings give further credence to One Yorkshire – and the importance of a countywide devolution deal. For, given that this issue is impacting upon every community, it’s all the more reason for there to be a body in place that can take account of the current, and future, needs of residents.
And given how the Government’s preferred city-region model does nothing to help those communities that fall outside the Leeds and Sheffield catchment areas, perhaps Mr Sunak would care to have a word with his Ministerial colleagues who are still thwarting One Yorkshire. After all, it is local leaders, rather than London-centric Ministers, who will ultimately have to refine policies, and their approach, to ensure people of all ages can enjoy fulfilling, and healthy, lives. And this task needs to begin now rather than on some distant day. By then, it will be too late.