Urgent need to boost population

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Argyll and Bute Council hopes to use the area’s rural growth deal to boost the area’s population after stark figures were revealed in a new report.

The document for the area’s forthcoming Community Planning Group meetings showed that people aged 85 and over are expected to make up more than four per cent of the area’s population by 2029 – increasing in numbers by almost 1,000.

The annual report produced by Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) also showed that the percentage of people aged 16-44 currently living in the area is eight per cent below the national average.

All age ranges above that bracket are higher than the average for Scotland, but the council hopes that the trends can be reversed.

With its efforts spearheaded by its leader, Councillor Aileen Morton, the council is currently trying to secure a rural growth deal with the Scottish Government.

Community planning group meetings are due to take place over the coming weeks over the four divisions of Argyll and Bute.

A council spokesperson said: ‘We recognise that we, like many parts of Scotland, have an ageing population.

‘Future success is built on a growing population and this is something the council and its partners are very much focused on.

‘Our Rural Growth Deal is one means of securing investment that will see Argyll and Bute lead the way in key sectors like marine science and food and drink.

‘This could attract the people and talent we need for our future and lead to fantastic opportunities at home for our young people.’

The report states that Argyll and Bute has a total population of 86,863, more than half of whom are aged over 45.

Only 29 per cent are aged 16-44 compared to 37 per cent nationally, while under 15 and below, the figures are 15 per cent and 17 per cent respectively.

In contrast, 30 per cent of Argyll and Bute’s population is aged 45-64 compared to 27 per cent across Scotland.

In the 65-74 age bracket it is 14 per cent for Argyll and Bute and 11 per cent for Scotland, while aged 75-84 it is nine per cent and six per cent. Aged 85 and over, it is three per cent and two per cent.

The report also said: ‘Argyll and Bute has a higher proportion of older people than Scotland as a whole, with 11.6 per cent aged 75+ compared to 8.5 per cent in Scotland.

‘Over the next 10 years, the population is projected to decrease overall by four per cent to 83,120 people.

‘However, the population of those 85+ is projected to increase by 32 per cent to a total of 3,437 people in 2029, with an increase to 2,715 people by 2021.

‘The decrease in the overall population contrasting with the increase in numbers of the eldest in society, represents a challenge to Argyll and Bute’s developing model of care. In addition, people report that they wish to remain in their own homes if possible.

‘Life expectancy in Argyll and Bute has increased but remains lower for males (77.4 years) than for females (82.5 years).

‘Male life expectancy is close to Scotland as a whole (77.1 years). Female life expectancy is higher than for Scotland as a whole (82.1 years).’

Argyll and Bute HSCP has been invited to comment.