Gold Age Power List

Research

A measure of society is how it sees its older people. In many other cultures, older people have an elevated status and respect. In the UK, over 65s are too often seen as frail, a burden or a drain on society's resources. WRVS believe that older people make a huge contribution to our society, but sadly, their potential isn't always realised.

By 2030, there will be three million over 85s in the UK and more than 15 million over 65s. The baby boom generation is hitting 65 from this year onwards. Healthy life expectancy has never been greater. You can easily see how the debate becomes focused on the resulting cost on the state. An ageing society is no longer a probability; it's a very present, national reality.

At WRVS, we don't believe an ageing population spells disaster. We know it's a recipe for success.

We commissioned independent economists SQW, who have worked with experts from a range of fields on, an in-depth study to spotlight older people's social and economic contribution to the UK.

Our research finds that in 2010, over 65s, through taxes, spending power, provision of social care and the value of their volunteering, made an astonishing net contribution of £40 billion to the UK economy.

And as the overall number of people over 65 increases and people remain healthier for longer, opportunities to make a positive contribution through work or volunteering will only grow. We estimate that in 2030 the positive net contribution of over 65s will grow to £77 billion by 2030.

More than any other group in society, older people are the social glue of most communities. Our research shows that every year, each older volunteer spends an average of over 100 hours 'informally' volunteering and more than 55 hours in formal volunteering roles. This is worth £10 billion to the UK economy.

At WRVS, our unique understanding of older people is built on over 70 years work in local communities and an army of 45,000 volunteers, many of whom are over 65 themselves, spending time with older people every day. You can read some of their stories here.

We believe older people are a foundation which provides a positive economic contribution and social glue to the country. And with this report, we're showing how they're doing it already. Together, let's make Britain a great place to grow old.

Lynne Berry OBE
Chief Executive, WRVS

Together, let's make Britain a great place to grow old.

"There was no respect for youth when I was young, and now that I am old, there is no respect for age - I missed it coming and going."

J.B. Priestley