Mayor's message to business and industry: rise to age-friendly challenge

  • Mayor calls on businesses to take advantage of Greater Manchester’s expertise on ageing to get ahead of the curve and maximise the “longevity dividend”.
  • Age-friendly conference showcases Greater Manchester’s age-friendly credentials and announces 32 age-friendly neighbourhoods.

  • By 2037 a fifth of Greater Manchester’s population will be over the age of 65.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has called on businesses to take advantage of Greater Manchester’s expertise on ageing and seize the opportunity to develop new products and services for a rapidly growing older population.

The Mayor’s rallying cry comes a year on from the World Health Organization recognising Greater Manchester as the UK’s first age-friendly city-region, and supports his stated aim to make the city-region one of the best places in the world to grow older.

He said: “Our age-friendly credentials are solid: the World Health Organization has already recognised Greater Manchester as the UK’s first age-friendly city-region, and thanks to our world-leading academic research and the work of our ageing hub, this city-region is the best place in the UK for innovation and insight into ageing.

“We’re aware of the challenges posed by a rapidly growing older population, and through public service reform and the unique devolution of our health and social care services, we are responding to these. But there are also significant economic benefits too. I don’t think industry has yet risen to the challenge of becoming age friendly, nor recognised the genuine opportunities available from an age-friendly society.  

“My message to business is clear: exploit our expertise, work with us to get ahead of the curve and take advantage of the so-called ‘longevity dividend’. Join us to test, innovate and drive growth around the technologies, products and services that can be brought to market to improve the lives of older people.”

The Mayor was speaking at today’s [February 13] age-friendly conference designed to showcase Greater Manchester’s pioneering approach to ageing and set out bold ambitions for the future.

Andy reiterated that due to health devolution, the development of a new public service model, and Greater Manchester being home to some of the world’s leading academics on ageing, the city-region is well-placed to deliver on age-friendly insight and innovation.

Hosting today’s conference, Greater Manchester’s lead for ageing and equalities, Brenda Warrington, said: “Today we’re announcing the results of the Mayor’s age-friendly communities challenge where 32 neighbourhoods in Greater Manchester will be officially declared age-friendly.

“Older people make a vital contribution to Greater Manchester – that's not just narrative, that's a fact. Our communities are already creating brilliant new ideas, and now it’s time for businesses to do the same. We are all living longer, and that must be celebrated, but it’s not just about helping people live longer, it’s about ensuring a high quality of life: helping people stay happier, healthier, in work, and well-connected to all the opportunities our city-region has to offer.”

Elaine Unegbu, Chair of Greater Manchester’s Older People’s Network, added: “In Greater Manchester we are committed to working for and with older people. We have a highly engaged network of older people from across the city region that is helping to shape policy, and I have seen and experienced first-hand the progression the ageing programme has made in making our city-region a better place to grow older.”

The University of Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing (MICRA) brings together more than 300 researchers and international experts across the field of ageing, putting the city-region in a strong position to translate research excellence into real-world solutions.

Central government and Greater Manchester are working together to find ways to support the government’s mission of ensuring that people can enjoy at least five additional healthy, independent years of life by 2030 while narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and poorest.

Alongside the Department for Work and Pensions and Centre for Ageing Better, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) is currently exploring new ways of working to reduce unemployment in people over 50 by providing new skills and training opportunities.

The city-region is working with specialist think-tank, International Longevity Centre UK, on how the we can maximise the benefits of a rapidly growing ageing population. Their report expected in the spring.

Greater Manchester’s age-friendly achievements have not passed unnoticed internationally; the city-region is working with a number of its European counterparts, including Amsterdam, Barcelona and Oslo, to share knowledge and best practice on creating age-friendly cities.

Supporting information

  • MICRA is a leading research institute carrying out multidisciplinary research into fundamental questions about ageing.
  • The University of Manchester’s work on supporting local communities, heritage and age-friendly cities has been highlighted in a major new independent report which looks at the role modern universities can have in their local cities.
  • Through the work of the Ageing Hub, Greater Manchester Combined Authority coordinates a strategic response to the opportunities and challenges of an ageing population.
  • Greater Manchester’s ageing expertise has been highlighted in the Government’s vision for the Greater Manchester Local Industrial Strategy. ‘Ageing society’ is one of four national ‘grand challenges’ focused on the global trends that will transform our future.
  • Greater Manchester’s Science and Innovation Audit and the recent Independent Prosperity Review both reported on Greater Manchester’s “world-class” strengths in health innovation.
  • Through the region’s Plan for Homes, Jobs and the Environment (the spatial framework), developers are being encouraged to build houses that can easily be adapted to meet people’s needs as they age, enabling people to stay in their own homes, in communities they know well, that are well connected to transport links.
  • Through the Mayor’s age-friendly challenge, Greater Manchester is finding practical examples of what age-friendly really means and share best practice across the city region. The age-friendly accredited neighbourhoods will be published on the GMCA website.


  • The ‘silver economy’ is estimated as worth $7 trillion a year, the equivalent of the third largest economy in the world.
  • By 2020 the private spending power of the older generation will reach $15 trillion globally.
  • In the EU, older people’s public spending accounts for 25% of gross domestic product (GDP), or about 50% of general government expenditure. It is projected to grow by more than 4% of GDP until 2060.
  • The older population makes up 40% of consumer demand in the UK, yet attracts just 10% of marketing spend (New Economy, 2015)
  • Greater Manchester’s population is set to grow by 8% to reach 3m by 2039, driven by the growth of older people.
  • Our working population is set to grow by 2% by 2039. Over the same period, the number of Greater Manchester residents aged 65+ will increase by 40% to reach 625,000.
  • We will see the number of over-85s in Greater Manchester double to more than 100,000 by 2039.

Article Published: 13/02/2019 12:49 PM