Island’s ageing population issue ‘scary’, says charity

- Advertisement -

THE implications of Jersey’s ageing population have been described as ‘scary’ – and the Island’s reliance on the finance industry is hindering technological innovation, a Digital Jersey event has heard.

Nathan Elstub – executive chair of the impact investment committee at charity Nesta – highlighted the need to encourage ‘young talented innovators’ to the Island when he spoke at the organisation’s annual review yesterday.

He also admitted that Jersey had historically underinvested in technology and did not do enough to keep the younger generation in the Island.

Mr Elstub described Jersey as having ‘one of the scariest age pyramids [he’d] ever seen’.

The latest census found that the ‘dependency ratio’ in Jersey had risen to 52%, meaning there were fewer people working than the number dependent on public services paid for by taxes. This has huge implications to pay for health and social care for its ageing population, as fewer taxpayers mean fewer people to pay into Jersey’s health fund – ultimately leading to it running dry. This ratio has risen by 6% in the past decade, while the number of Islanders aged 65 and over has risen 29% during the same period.

Social Security Minister Elaine Millar recently stated that there were no plans to raise the pension age to address this issue.

Deputy Millar said that ‘no one wants the pension age any higher’, adding that it was ‘already quite high compared to other jurisdictions like France’.

She continued: ‘We may at some point have to think about putting up contributions but there is no current plan to do so.

‘We don’t want to have to put them up and it would be far down the list of actions as it has long-term impacts.’

Mr Elstub also raised concerns about the ‘fragility’ of Jersey’s economy caused by the Island being too dependent on the financial sector, particularly with the rise of Artificial Intelligence which is predicted to have an impact on finance jobs over the next few decades.

But he pointed out some potential characteristics of Jersey that make the Island an ideal location for technological advances, including good infrastructure, diverse population, and strong financial backing.

He added that having a small government with the ability to be directly involved with its population can be a ‘powerful asset’ for progress.

Nesta – which began in 1998 as the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts – is the ‘UK’s innovation agency for social good’. Now independent of the UK government, the charity works to increase the innovation capacity of the UK by designing and testing new solutions to society’s biggest problems.

Early last year, the former minister responsible for population, Rowland Huelin, described Jersey’s increasing dependency ratio as one of the ‘biggest problems we face’.

In her recent statement to the JEP, Deputy Millar said: ‘The dependency ratio is a concern of ours and we will keep a close eye on it as we need to think about its impact if it increases further.’

On the issue of younger people leaving Jersey owing to the high cost of living, Deputy Millar said: ‘There are so many aspects involved with keeping people on the Island. We need affordable housing and well-paid jobs so people want to stay.

‘The government are already working to ease recruitment issues in both the health and education sectors and have a clear focus on recruitment and retention issues as well as increasing availability of affordable housing.’

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

- Advertisement -

UK News

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Read the latest free supplements

Read the Town Crier, Le Rocher and a whole host of other subjects like mortgage advice, business, cycling, travel and property.