There’s more of us, and we’re getting older

The Office for National Statistics has released the first set of numbers from the 2011 Census.  Key facts:

There are more of us – and we’re getting older:

  • 9.2 million people in England and Wales are over the age of 65, up more than 10 per cent in the past decade
Our ageing population will have important implications for how we manage health and social care.  According to Age UK, most people using social care services are over the age of 85.  Along with the Office of Budget Responsibility’s report on the UK’s financial sustainability, the Census data give us useful anchors for the debate on welfare.

Budget watchdog foresees hard times ahead

This month the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) issued its annual Fiscal Sustainability Report.

The OBR was set up by the Coalition to provide an independent view on the nation’s finances.  Its latest report makes bleak reading (see here and here for two broadly similar accounts from right and left respectively).  Basically, as Telegraph Economics Editor Philip Aldrick puts it, “in the long run we’re all skint.”

The Fiscal Sustainability Report powerfully frames the questions we face over the future of welfare: for anyone interested in this debate it is worth a look.

Lib Dems embrace Beveridge

Following the Conservatives and Labour, this weekend the Lib Dems paid homage to the Beveridge Legacy with Nick Clegg delivering the inaugural William Beveridge Memorial Lecture at the Social Liberal Forum conference.

All the main parties now look to Beveridge to find new ways forward for welfare.  Will this help them re-connect with the public beyond Westminster?

Niall Ferguson brings Beveridge to 2012 Reith Lectures

In the last of the 2012 Reith Lectures, historian Niall Ferguson shared his thoughts on the Beveridge Legacy.   Key quote:*

“The effects of the welfare state as it expanded its scope, as it offered security from the cradle to the grave were in many respects quite unintended. I do not think that Beveridge envisaged the sink estates of Central Scotland, the North of England, the East End of London when devising the welfare state during World War II. And we have to recognise the extent of the failure.”

Do you agree with Ferguson?  What is the extent of the failure?  And what can do about it?

* You can hear the whole lecture, and find a transcript, here

Reasons to be cheerful…

With the banking scandal – hot on the heels of Leveson, party funding and MPs’ expenses – there’s growing disillusion about politics and our institutions.

At the National Conversation we believe we can tackle this loss of faith, and get people re-engaged with political life, by promoting frank and open discussion about the big issues our society faces.

Right now, we’re working to set up town hall meetings and online forums to make this ‘sane and not sanitised’ conversation happen.   We’re talking to people from all kinds of backgrounds, across the political spectrum, to build a compelling programme ready to launch in the autumn.

One of the people advising us is Mick Fealty, the brains behind Slugger O’Toole.  Mick’s recognised as one of the country’s leading political bloggers and commentators.  With Slugger, he created a powerful online forum for news and debate on Northern Ireland politics.

Mick made it possible for people with (to put it mildly) deeply-held and conflicting views to come together and talk constructively.  It would be easy for Slugger to be a slagging match: instead, it’s a place for lively discussion, insight and humour.

We wanted to share one of the insights we got from Mick: “Cynicism is evil. It breeds contempt.”  We couldn’t agree more: disillusion and cynicism will get us nowhere.  We believe it’s time for a more constructive approach.