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Coordinated approach needed to tackle consequences of ageing population

Visit the UKARF website

29 September 2010

Internationally-renowned economist George Magnus will today (Wednesday 29 September) call for a more coordinated approach to tackling the serious economic and social consequences of an ageing population.

Speaking at the UK Age Research Forum (UKARF) conference in London, the author of Age of Ageing will warn that funding care and benefits for the over 65s generation for the rest of their lives will cost a total of more than three times the country's GDP. However, he says, we are failing to successfully confront this issue because of 'piecemeal and disconnected thinking'.

UKARF is a strategic partnership between government, research councils including the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and charities that aims to make a positive difference to the lives of older people through research. It promotes the coordination of research funding among its members through regular communication, expert groups and public events.

Mr Magnus will address his comments to more than 250 experts from the world of old age research who have come together to discuss the importance of research communities and funders working together to enhance the lives of older people.

Ahead of the event, he said: 'Because of the financial crisis people are talking about things they hadn't previously talked about such as our ageing population. This gives us an opportunity so we must cast aside old assumptions and attack this in a different way. People from different disciplines looking at things such as workforce, care and pensions must now work together towards the same goal.'

Mr Magnus is one of a number of the speakers talking at the UKARF conference which this year has the theme 'Promoting collaboration of age research'. The event will be opened by forum chairperson and Alzheimer's Society Interim Chief Executive Ruth Sutherland and chaired by ITV newsreader Nina Hossain. Other topics on the agenda include innovation for independent living and getting research into practice.

Ruth Sutherland said: 'We cannot hide from the fact that we live in an ageing population yet research into ageing is too often underfunded and undervalued. Research in this field has the power to transform the lives of millions of people and save the already creaking economy hundreds of millions of pounds a year. For this to happen we need investment now, not tomorrow but today.

'It is fantastic to see so many influential organisations and people coming together to discuss how we can improve the lives of some of society's most vulnerable members. By working in partnership we can ensure we are making the most of this country's excellent research potential in the field.'

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • There are now more people in the UK aged 60 and above than there are under 18, and more pensioners than there are children under 16
  • The number of people aged 65 years and over is expected to rise by over 50% in the next 25 years
  • Research has a pivotal role to play in addressing the challenges posed by this demographic agenda

About the UK Age Research Forum

The UK Age Research Forum was set up to promote high quality research that is well funded, effectively targeted and monitored, multi-disciplinary when appropriate and closely engaged with potential research users. This research must ultimately have a beneficial impact on the quality of life of people as they age.

UKARF, with its broad membership of funders representing multidisciplinary research areas is acting together to address this challenge.

Alzheimer's Society is this year acting as the secretariat for UKARF. For more information about this event contact the Alzheimer's Society press office on 0207 423 3595 or email press@alzheimers.org.uk

To find our more about UKARF, visit www.ukarf.org.uk

About BBSRC

BBSRC is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £470M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life in the UK and beyond and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders, including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

BBSRC provides institute strategic research grants to the following:

  • The Babraham Institute
  • Institute for Animal Health
  • Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (Aberystwyth University)
  • Institute of Food Research
  • John Innes Centre
  • The Genome Analysis Centre
  • The Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh)
  • Rothamsted Research

The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.