Philip Dunne speaks in a debate on Government funding for adult social care in Shropshire and welcomes the county’s leading position on developing technologies to help with the increasing demand.
I endorse what my right hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire (Mr Paterson) has just said. In south Shropshire, the population of over-65s is currently 29%, compared with 19% of the population across the UK and 23% across the county, as he said, so the issue is particularly pressing in the south.
Today, there are twice as many people over the age of 90 as there were on the day when my hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Daniel Kawczynski) and I were elected, nearly 15 years ago. However, it is not all gloom and doom about increasing demand, although that is a major problem. Shropshire is leading the way in this country in developing technologies to help cope with the growing pressure. I commend the Broseley project to him. It is one of the leading projects in the county, and in the country, trying to find technological solutions to keep people out of hospital or residential care. I encourage him to visit that project if he has not done so already.
I am extremely grateful for those interventions from my hon. Friends and neighbours. I could not agree with them more. Shrewsbury is listed as one of the top 10 places to retire to in the whole of the United Kingdom because of the beauty of our town—we have more listed buildings than any other town in England. We have a larger number of senior citizens as a percentage of our total population, and that percentage is growing much faster than the national average. Governments of all political colours have poured money disproportionately into inner-city, metropolitan areas while leaving us in the rural shire counties as the poorer cousins, and it is vital that we now start to take action.