Subnational ageing trends paint an interesting picture
We know that the British population is ageing, on average, but what about on a subnational level?
A new release of official data shows how national-level ageing trends vary on a local basis.
In some cases, even neighbouring local authorities have very different ageing profiles.
One example of this is Brighton and Hove, and Lewes.
In Brighton and Hove, 13.4% of the population is over age 65. In neighbouring Lewes, this proportion rises to 25.8%.
The data shows that older people are more likely to live near Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), National Parks and the cost, with younger people more likely to live in cities.
This geographic profile for older people is driven by migration away from major cities to rural and coastal parts of the country.
It also shows that Wales is home to the oldest population in the UK, followed by Scotland, and England, with Northern Ireland sporting the youngest population.
Across all UK regions, the employment rates for older workers are lower than those for younger workers.
Between 2018 and 2043, the average median age of local authorities in the UK is projected to increase. Some of the highest projected increases are likely to take place in Northern Ireland.
Rural parts of the country are forecast to experience some of the most significant increases in the proportion of one-person households containing an older person.
It’s important we understand these subnational ageing trends because they influence local planning, such as housing, schools, transport, health and other community services.
The data release comes as new research found that half of local authorities in England lack clear policies for the provision of suitable housing to meet the needs of an ageing population.
Law firm Irwin Mitchell revised a survey initially carried out in 2017, ranking the planning policies of local authorities based on their provision for older people.
The survey found that 161 local councils received the lowest grade, D.
There was a small improvement when compared with their earlier research, but a significant number of local councils are still not planning for an ageing population.
Nicola Gooch, planning partner at Irwin Mitchell, said:
Despite some improvement it is extremely disappointing to see that 50% of local authorities in England have neither a useful planning policy nor site allocations in their local plans to provide for such accommodation.
Local authorities have moved forward in the past three years – but only by very little steps and certainly not fast enough to cover the demographic shifts. The current patchwork approach to local plans is holding back the development of the sector and needs to end. A national and local policy framework that works to promote a uniform and supportive approach to senior housing is required.