Fenland’s pensioner population set to rocket in next 20 years

THE pensioner population in Wisbech is already the highest in the county, and that figure is set to rocket over the next 20 years, creating a strain on local services.

Figures released today show that the over 65s now make up 20.6 per cent of the local population, and that number is due to rise to 29.2 per cent – more than seven per cent higher than the national average.

Department of Work and Pensions spokesman Daniel Barnes said: “The figures highlight Wisbech as having the most notable ageing population and across Cambridgeshire as a whole the population is getting older. The only exception is Cambridge itself which is bucking the national trend.”

With life expectancy having risen by 40 per cent over the last 25 years, and the number of pensioners outstripping under 16s, the trend “presents society with one of its greatest opportunities and biggest challenges”.

When the state pension age was set in 1940, life expectancy was 72 – today it is 89 for men and 90 for women.

Councillor Roger Green, a member of Fenland District Council’s Golden Age team that assists pensioners, says the increase in over 65s has created a challenge.

“In view of the economic climate, it is a worrying situation for public services,” he said.

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There are also worries about the loss of facilities for the elderly with both Wisbech Town Council and Fenland District Council expressing concern about the proposed permanent closure of Rowan Lodge, an in-patient unit at North Cambs Hospital for elderly people with mental health issues.

“More people are coming into the Fens to retire,” said Cllr Green. “If you look around at the new estates, there are a large proportion of older people living there. The pace of life here is slower and more relaxed, and life is more peaceful.”

Fenland’s Golden Age team encourages residents to claim appropriate benefits; earlier this year a Golden Age Fair in Walsoken attracted 170 visitors and identified �6,244 in unclaimed benefits.

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