Dr John Smith: Young need support more than elderly do

Young people need more support than the elderly, says Dr John
Young people need more support than the elderly, says Dr John

Most children born today will live beyond the age of 90, which makes 45 the halfway stage in their lives.

There are more people alive over the age of 45 than under and that number is increasing.

As a population, we are growing older.

When I first practised as a doctor in the 1970s, 75 was old and many did not reach that age.

There were only four residential homes in Kettering and no nursing homes. Now I have lost count.

There are more and more sheltered housing schemes, care agencies and battery cars that go too fast!

We have coffee shops by the score and they are full of us – for I will be 68 this year.

Many elderly struggle on low incomes but there are lots who live comfortably. Not all of us but many are fortunate.

Contrast that with the young. Yes, many of them go to university, but they no longer have grants – they have loans which must be paid back.

Many still live at home because they cannot afford rents or mortgages.

In the 1950s it took about four years to save for the deposit on a house, double that now.

Youth unemployment is at its highest level for decades; many are working hard to find work but to no avail and it is too easy to label them as wanting to live on benefits.

Yet it is the elderly, me included, who receive half of the welfare budget in the form of pensions, a total of £100bn.

We get the perks too – bus passes, free TV licences and winter fuel allowances.

Austerity has affected us but not as much as the young, it has licked us and bitten them and bitten them hard.

Enough is enough; younger people need all the support we can give them.

We must take some of the knocks too. The elderly are powerful; there are more of us and more of us vote.

No government is going to offend us by asking us to share some of the pain, but share some of the pain we must. We are not in it together but we should be.