An ageing population, robots taking jobs and increasing inequality: The 10 biggest dilemmas facing the UK in 2030

 
Emma Haslett
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I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords. (Source: Getty)

It's not even 2017 yet, but think tank the IPPR has turned its attentions to the year 2030, to work out what challenges the UK will be facing by then.

The resulting report, Future Proof, suggests we'll be grappling with an ageing population, increased automation of jobs - and increasing inequality.

But what will be the most important dilemmas the UK population faces? Here are the 10 most thorny issues.

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1. Increasing growth

It's not a pretty picture: the UK will remain a low-growth environment, driven by demographic shifts, changing trends in productivity, weak investment, weak labour power, high levels of debt and the headwinds of a slowing global economy, the IPPR says.

2. The changing shape of the economy

Brexit and the depreciation of sterling will compound changes in technology and society to accelerate big changes to the economy. While the service sector - currently the UK's biggest sector - will continue to grow, manufacturing, administration, the public sector and insurance will all shrink.

3. Job insecurity

Technology - and cultural shifts - will also be the driving force behind how businesses will organise themselves. Work will be less secure, more polarised, and more freelance.

4. Robots vs workers

The IPPR reckons up to 15m jobs, that's about two-thirds of all positions, are at risk of automation in the next 14 years. It warns that who benefits from the changes and who loses out will be shaped not by the technology itself, but by politicians.

5. Public finances and the ageing population

The state is on course to shrink rapidly over the next decades, but as the population ages, that could prove disastrous. With the number of over-65s set to grow by a third in the years before 2030, many of whom will depend on the state for their care, a structural deficit of £13bn is likely to emerge by 2030/31. That's 62 per cent of the expected budget.

6. Financial pressure in public services

As a result of a health and social care crisis, decentralisation of control and personalisation of delivery will increase. Devolution will mean local authorities play a more important role in the funding and delivery of public services.

7. Increasing inequality

By the 2020s, the income of the top-earning households will rise 11 times faster than for low-income households, with technology, economic and demographic changes "supercharging" inequalities.

8. The old vs the young

"Unprecedented" generational differences in income and housing will be a "key feature" of the 2020s, the report suggest - leading to powerful political and economic consequences.

9. Making data social

Data collection and analysis may be a political hot potato now, but by the 2020s it will create new models of ownership, economic activity and wealth. In fact, the report reckons building a "public, democratic" data infrastructure in the 21st century will become a similar challenge to creating a welfare state in the 20th.

10. Democratic aftershocks

As political voice inequalities increase after Brexit, institutions of representative democracy will come under further stress, while clumsy devolution may also affect democracy.

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