Barnstaple charity speaks out in response to Government report showing increased aging population in North Devon and Torridge.

Something needs to be done now to prepare for a dramatic increase in the elderly population in North Devon and Torridge.

The outlook comes from Andrea Scott of Age Concern Barnstaple, speaking in the wake of a new Government report that shows a third of people in the two districts will be aged 65 and above by 2037, putting increased strain on the already stretched state services.

“Something needs to be done now for the future, because people are living longer,” she said.

“Health and Social Services need to be preparing a preventative care infrastructure recognising the value of voluntary and third sector services, giving people support so they can seek help and don’t get to the state where they have to be admitted into hospital.”

Figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest 32 per cent in North Devon and 34 in Torridge will be over 65 by 2037, compared with 24 and 25 per cent currently.

Three per cent are now aged 85 and over, set to rise to seven per cent in the next two decades.

Ms Scott said in the Barnstaple area alone the charity supported 220 people in their own homes, many of them in their 90s.

“Our 70 volunteers give some 350 hours each week,” she said.

“There needs to be an awareness of what is going on in the community – sometimes the services are there but the information is not.”

The report shows the average age in North Devon was 40 in 1992 and is now 46. It is set to rise to 49 by 2037, while in Torridge it was 41, is now 48 but is expected to increase to 52.