Communes, public social services centres and the entire association-based network is on the front line for the ageing population. This emerges from a study by the banking organisation Belfius. Local authorities are having to intensify their range of public services and infrastructures, whilst the most affected communes are seeing their sources of finance reduced.
By the year 2060, there will be 1.2 million individuals aged 80 or over in Belgium, or 9.1% of the population, compared to the current 4.8%. Belfius pointedly observes this in its analysis. There is a striking difference between communes. The ageing coefficient (the proportion of inhabitants aged 67 years and over relative to that under 18 years) has thus now witnessed increases ranging from 26.5% within a particular Brussels commune (a younger population) to no less than 273.8% within a given coastal location.
Yet within the most affected communes, demographic ageing will have consequences for resources and upon the expenditure of local authorities. Thus, early retirement is most often accompanied by a reduction in income levels which reduces tax on individuals.
Moreover, property-based income within communes where the population shows a more accentuated level of ageing is increasing less rapidly owing to weaker property growth – a further finding from the Belfius study.
Concerning expenditure, the ageing population and the increase in the number of dependants is likely to force the public social services centres and cross-communal organisations in the medico-social sector to intervene more in the care of older people. An updated socio-demographic profile of all communes and public social services centres will be published in September 2016, Belfius adds.