Rural areas have always had a greater share of over 65 residents compared to urban areas, caused in part by the older migration towards rural areas in retirement, and the outflow of younger people into cities and urban areas for higher education study and employment opportunities (and lack of affordable housing).
Census 2021 figures have shown that there has been a 27% increase in predominantly rural areas of the 65 years and over age group from 2011 to 2021, compared to a 15% increase in the same group in urban areas.
This means that older people now account for almost a quarter of the population in predominantly rural areas compared to only 16% in predominantly urban areas.
This population trend can have significant implications for service providers, as older people may have additional needs and place additional demands on services and there is a risk that demand may overwhelm statutory services, in particular health and social care systems.
Of course, many older people remain fit and active, contributing significantly to their communities and this is clear from their involvement in volunteering and local activities or societies.
However, whilst rural local authorities received 37% less per head in settlement funding assessment from Government in 2022-2023 compared to urban areas, the additional cost of providing services in rural areas must be adequately compensated by Government.
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