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Council: "We have a demographic time bomb on our hands"

West Berkshire must face the challenges posed by its ageing population

Fiona Tomas

Fiona Tomas


01635 886639

West Berkshire's beautiful countryside captured

“WE have a demographic timebomb on its hands that we’re going to have to deal with.”

That was the shared view of two West Berkshire Council representatives – Gabrielle Mancini and Bryan Lyttle – who say the district must address the challenges posed by its ageing population in order to sustain its economic growth and avoid becoming a “dormitory community”.

The pair presented a draft version of the Newbury Vision 2036 – a document which sets out how the local authority wants Newbury to look and feel for visitors who work and live in the town in the years to come.

The original Newbury Vision was published in 2003.

The updated Vision – for which a final draft will be fed through over the next two months – acknowledges West Berkshire is a “thriving district” – but not exempt of social problems.   

Significant inequalities in wealth, life expectancy and health – as well as education and employment prospects – still prevail, while the average house price in the district has soared to £338,316.

Most significantly, the document projects a huge demographic shift, with only two working age people per retired person instead of four, as is the current case.

Ms Mancini, the council’s new economic development officer, said: “West Berkshire, in general, is a great place to live – but that’s just it – in general.

“The average house price is unaffordable to so many people.

“We have a demographic time bomb on our hands which we are going to have to deal with or else the liability that we have for adult social care costs, as well as the lack of available workforce, is going to massively threaten our sustainability of the district.”

Key indicators that have been identified in the next Vision include achieving a housing mix which provides a “range of housing types and tenures” for the future population needs of West Berkshire.

It is anticipated the Vision will be adopted by the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board by 2019, before being viewed by full council in March 2019.

In his closing remarks, the council’s policy and transport manager Bryan Lyttle said: “At the moment, we have the equality between the number of jobs that are available, to the number of people who are of economic working age in West Berkshire.

“The demographic timebomb is going to change that.

“If we are to keep one job per person, how are we going to do that?

“Are we going to reduce the economic workforce or going to ensure there are enough houses in the district for young people to move into?

“Instead of catastrophic events, we’re going to create a utopian West Berkshire.”  

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Article comments

  • NewburyDenizen

    02/11/2018 - 15:03

    Once again the baby boomers are proven to have been the cause of a lot of the problems.. easily the most selfish generation in history, enjoy a time of plenty and not respecting that every generation borrows from the one the follows it. The reason my generation and the one that will follow ours is more prone to generosity and social mindedness (if raised correctly) is we can see what blatant consumerism and selfishness creates, an aging, wealthy population and few ways of getting there ourselves without relying on the old dying off (which can't come soon enough in a lot of cases!).


  • Micky

    02/11/2018 - 10:10

    It sounds like the council want to remove all the old people out of Newbury to make way for the young out of town families who have no ties to the town and they do not want to support the elderly or the vulnerable. I as a pensiononer am getting fed up being blamed for getting old and costing the system money.


    • NoisyNortherner

      02/11/2018 - 15:03

      I think what they're trying to say is that the projected workforce would not be enough to support the services required for an increasingly ageing population. With an increase in the need, and subsequent cost, of social care, this is likely to only get worse in the future. Nobody is blaming the elderly or the vulnerable in this statement, just making an assessment that if current trends continue, Newbury will struggle to cope. Bruin (below) is right though. There's a fantastic lack of proper family housing in Newbury. There's basically two types of new build in Newbury; matchbox flats with no garden, or massively overpriced pseudo-mansions that nobody who actually needs the space can afford.


  • bruin the bear

    02/11/2018 - 09:09

    What do you expect when you, the council , have taken your eye off the ball- too many flats, not enough family housing, no priority for the local " economy stupid ", industrial/office space not a priority, not fighting to keep Bayer etc......DICKHEADS!