LAST Tuesday’s Daily Echo highlights the growing shortfall of residential care for elderly people in our area. This must raise serious concerns for us. How we properly support our country’s ageing population is a challenge nationally but of course especially marked in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole conurbation.

As a parish priest I am both very conscious of the problems faced by some of our vulnerable or isolated older people, and also hugely appreciative of the caring professionals who support them in their homes or in residential care.

My experience, however (and not any political axe to grind) obliges me to raise in response the contentious issue of immigration. Quite simply, we need continued immigration at similar or higher levels than are current if we are to avoid the worst consequences of our ageing demography. This is because immigrants are net contributors to our finances on a major scale: their education has been paid for by their home country and quite often they return to their country of origin when retired and thus more likely to require care – but they work and pay taxes here in between. Coincidentally, many immigrants seem also to have a natural inclination towards care work, providing a large proportion of those who support our older people.

Unfortunately, reducing immigration became a political mantra during the EU referendum, despite many on all sides of that debate acknowledging the continuing benefits we gain from it, and the more hostile environment since then, along with the much reduced value of sterling, has lessened our country’s attractiveness to those abroad who might otherwise contribute to our economy as well as to our culture.

Now in my sixty second year I can only hope, with those younger than me, that when we become increasingly dependent on support there will be enough younger people paying taxes and willing to support us. If immigration continues to decline, so will the prospects for care of the elderly - and the elderly, let us remember, will in due course include every one of us.


St Aldhelm’s Road, Poole