The Cabinet Office Social Exclusion Task Force have just published their work on tackling social exclusion for older people in rural areas, feeding into the government’s Ageing Strategy ‘Building a Society for all Ages’. The work examines evidence on the social exclusion experienced by older people in rural areas, including needs analysis commissioned from OCSI.
Our work assesses indicators of social exclusion for older people in rural areas, including outputs from the Planning4care Social Care Commissioning tool. Key findings include:
- Rural areas have an older age profile and are ageing faster than other areas of the country: It is well known that rural areas are typically older than the average, with rural residents on average 6 years older than in urban areas. However, the population aged 65 and over is also projected to increase significantly faster than in urban areas – increasing the pressure on services such as social care for older people in rural areas.
- Although deprivation levels on average in rural areas are low, there is a great deal of ‘hidden’ deprivation: Based on the government’s Index of Multiple Deprivation, only 1% of all deprived areas are rural. But based on individual-level data, the ‘rural share’ of deprivation is much greater – for example, of all people of working-age receiving DWP benefits 16% (or 280,000 people) live in rural areas. In other words, the ‘rural share’ of deprivation in terms of people (16% of all working-age people receiving benefits in England live in rural areas), is substantially larger than might be expected from analysis of the most deprived small areas (where only 1% of deprived areas in England are rural).
- Social care needs in rural areas are significant, and projected to grow faster than the average across England: Based on Planning4care analysis, more than 550,000 older people in rural areas have some level of social care need, with 125,000 of these having very high levels of need. Based on population projections and future Healthy Life Expectancy scenarios, this may grow to as much as 930,000 by 2029 – an increase of 70%, well above increases in urban areas. This in turn will place increased pressure on service costs and provision, again well above likely increases in urban areas. For example, based on current typical care packages, the total costs of providing publicly funded social care provision to older people in rural areas would be expected to increase by two-thirds, to £50M per week (in today’s money).
- Areas in East Midlands and the East of England show the greatest expected increases in older people over the next 20 years: At local level, the over-65 population is projected to nearly double over the next 20 years in some areas, with much greater increases in the oldest age-groups. Local Authorities with the largest growth in numbers of older people are likely to face a very significant increase in demand for social care provision and other services for older people.
See the full OCSI Mapping the level of need: Assessing the social exclusion of older people in rural areas report for more detail.
Follow these links for more information on our analysis of deprivation in rural areas, and the Planning4care social care strategic commissioning tool.