The impact a growing population and longer life expectancy will have on council services two decades from now has been highlighted by town hall experts.
As Falkirk Council works to balance its budget for this year and calculate how it can manage cuts in funding of up to £25 million in the next financial year, its research and information department warns its latest projections will have implications on spending for the next 20 years and require “careful” consideration.
The insight based on 2012 figures says the number of people living in the district could rise by over 10 per cent to 173,130 by 2037 – above the Scottish average.
It is suggested the substantial changes in the age groups that make up the population will put social work and education – the two biggest spenders after the council pays its wage bill – under even more pressure.
Four years ago it was predicting the number of 85-year-olds and older would increase by 48 per cent from 2866 to 4244 by 2022.
But now it is estimated there are likely to be 7893 ‘senior’ senior citizens – a rise of over 175 per cent in 25 years.
At the same time there will be nearly 33,000 residents aged between 60 and 74 entitled to support from the council’s care in the community programme if they need it while the number of school children aged five to 11 is tipped to rise by over 1000 to 13,047, increasing demand for classroom space at primary and then secondary level.
The information department’s latest findings point out: “All these differences may have implications for the services the council provides in some of the more important age groups.
“The very elderly section of the population is expected to show the most rapid increase over the period with the number aged 85 and over likely to more than double. This has potentially highly important implications for social work and care in the community as many older people will require services.”
The statistics show Falkirk district’s population was fairly steady from the 1970’s to the 1990’s. In 1971 it stood at 140,040 and risen to 145,500 by 1980 before gradually declining to 143,040 by 1996. In 2002 the population had grown once more to 145,560 and to 156,800 by 2012.
By 2037 the number of households is predicted to increase by nearly 16 per cent to 80,210 compared with 17 per cent across Scotland as a whole.
The contrast between the increase in population and higher rise in the demand for housing is due to the continuing fall in average household size because more people are able and willing to live alone.
Many elderly are keen to ‘stay where they are’ and encouraged to do so by the care agencies that can help them retain their independence.
But the biggest projected increase in percentage terms is the number of single adults – male and female – without children likely to opt to set up house by themselves.
By 2037 that is expected to top 45 per cent or 15,446 for males and by over 21 per cent or 14.813 for females - both figures just below the national average.
Households with two adults and no children are currently the most common household type in the district but by 2037 there are expected to be only just over two people on average in each.