Changing demographics and the ever increasing reach of technology feature large for Sir Merrick Cockell, Chair of the LGA as he looks to a future.
Over the next thirty years there will be significant challenges to the way councils operate, alongside real opportunities to innovate and develop how we serve our residents.
By 2043 the UK population is expected to rocket towards 80 million, an increase of a third. The demographics will also have shifted significantly with the number of those past retirement age living far longer than today. In fact, more than 95,000 people who were aged 65 in 2012 are expected to celebrate their 100th birthday in 2047. With these increases in age and numbers of residents come serious issues related to demand.
With people living longer, with complex conditions, the system of social care must be able to deal with the increases to demand. Likewise our schools, housing, roads and other infrastructure must be fit for purpose.
We have to also accept that the jobs market of 2043 will be different and how we prepare young people, and retrain those in long-term work, will be essential. Just as last century’s manufacturing jobs were replaced by mechanisation, the next 100 years will see software and technology replace hundreds of thousands of roles in “middle class” professions such as law, medicine and management.
2043 may seem far away but it in planning terms it is just around the corner. Local government has the knowledge and data on their areas to map out the priorities today, not tomorrow. However, councils need to be freed to make the long-term decisions and given the tools to allow them to address issues such as funding and planning.
Our “Rewiring Public Services” programme is aimed at meeting these new challenges and to understand local people’s future needs and aspirations. Our propositions show how public services can be transformed, through local leadership, by rebuilding democratic participation, fixing public services and revitalising the economy.
My vision for councils by 2043 is one where councils can respond to these new challenges on a sound financial footing; local people have a clear say in the important matters that face them and their local communities and we have a rejuvenated democracy where every vote matters.