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Funds needed "for older population"

The government needs to prepare funding and new policies to provide for the increasing number of people in the UK who are living past the age of 100, the Age UK charity has said.

The call comes after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced that the number of 100 year olds in the UK has quadrupled since 1981: last year 11,600 people turned 100.

If this pattern of growth continues the number is forecast to hit around 87,900 by 2034, which can be attributed to improvements in medical treatment, housing and other living standards for people aged 80-100, the ONS said.

Age UK's Michelle Mitchell said: "The growth of an older population will also mean significant challenges for policy-makers, in terms of funding and investing in the sort of services which an ageing society will rely on.

"There is no excuse for not planning ahead to ensure that health, care, pension and other services are able to meet the needs of an ageing population."

But increased lifespan is not in itself an indicator of "progress" because people do not just want to live longer, they want to live better-quality lives, the charity pointed out.

The number of people who were sent a royal centenarian card went up by an average 73% between 2000 and 2009, the ONS said, although some areas of the UK had much lower rates than others, such as Northern Ireland which was up just 28%.

Life expectancy for both women and men is at an all-time high, although women still live longer. Nowadays men can expect to live for an average 77.7 years, women 81.6 years.

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Age UK