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Part of: Population

Related to: Cancer, Carers, Ill Health and Disability, Dementia, Coronary Heart Disease, Diabetes, End of Life Care, Stroke, Hypertension, Parkinsons Disease, Physical Activity, Osteoporosis, Arthritis

Key Findings:

  • Key factors include the large ‘baby boom’ cohort nearing retirement and increased life expectancy.ageing_population_infographic
  • After being one of the more rapidly ageing countries in the EU during the 1980s, since the mid-1990s the UK rate has been below the EU average and we are on track to be one of the least aged EU countries by 2035.
  • As the ‘old age dependency ratio’ increases, a proportionally smaller tax base may be stretched to deliver this additional funding.
  • An ageing population increases the strain on the NHS, as the cost of providing care for older people is substantially higher.

Projected Population Growth

A note on data quality: the ONS Population Projections are based on Census projections reworked in 2012.  Therefore, they are the most accurate available.  However, these population projections are known to over-estimate the size of the local population.

The national picture

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has updated its projections based on the recent release of data from the 2011 Census, as revised in 2012. In England in 2022, compared to 2012:

  • There will be 22% more people aged 65 and over
  • There will be 38% more people aged 85 and over 1

It is estimated that, by 2037, the number of people aged 75 or over in England will have risen from 4.2 million to over 8 million, forming around 13% of the total national population. Almost 15 million people will be aged 65 or over; by comparison, there will be nearly 14 million children aged 0-19.

The local picture

There are projected to be large increases in the number of older people in B&NES. For example, by 2021 the number of over 75's in the population is projected to increase by 20% 2 (approximately 4,400 people) and the number of over 90's are projected to increase by 44%. These increases will mean that services for older people are likely to experience increases in demand.

Table 1: Demonstrates the overall changes for key older population groups between 2011 and 2021 3.






Change 2012-2021



















There is a sizable gender-based difference amongst older age-groups; see women generally outliving men. This gap is expected to narrow slightly over time.

Fig 1 - Population Projections to 2022 - Male/Female 75+ age-range

Impact of an Ageing Society

Select Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change - First Report
Ready for Ageing? 4

This report was ordered by the House of Lords and examines the issues relating to an ageing population, including:

  • Large increases in over 65s in England by 2030
  • Requirements for people to work longer and pressures on employers to employ older workers
  • Shortfalls in savings and pensions for extended retirement
  • Impact on the NHS, particularly from a greatly increased incidence of chronic long-term health conditions, including dementia, arthritis, diabetes, stroke and heart disease
  • A needed change in attitudes to ageing
  • Enabling people to live independently, including increasing care in the home

Among other things, the report recommends that policymakers should:

  • Enable more people to work part-time and wind down work and take up pensions flexibly. It should be beneficial to defer taking state and private pensions
  • More clearly define contribution pensions to make it clearer what people can expect to get
  • Allow people to release housing equity easily
  • Enact structural reforms of the NHS including 24hr access and joint funding of health and social care
  • Work together with housing associations and house builders to plan housing needs for the older population


The HAPPI report 5 sets out recommendations for flexibility in design, adaptability and construction for housing for active older people that emphasises independence and autonomy by the individual and sustaining relationships with their community. Key design elements include generous internal space standards, circulation spaces and community hubs that avoid an 'institutional feel', priority pedestrian areas and high levels of energy efficiency to offset rising fuel poverty and avoid overheating in hot weather.

The principles also suggest housing initiatives targeted at this growing demographic should aspire to achieve the  outcomes of Keeping couples together within their own homes, enabling independent living for longer and allowing a choice of tenure and accommodation appropriate to avoid under-occupation.

At present, ‘the housing market is delivering much less specialist housing for older people than is needed’ 6


2014 estimates suggest that there are currently 11,807 people aged 65+ in B&NEs who are unable to manage at least one self-care activity on thier own. This is expected to increase to 16,408 by 2030, an increase of 38.9% 7. This is likely to have significant impact on Carers and Care Services, as well as numbers of older residents living in care homes.

The Nuffield Trust has recently estimated that under the current healthcare system, the NHS in England will see a funding shortfall of £54 billion by 2021/22 if NHS funding remains constant in real terms, if no productivity gains are made, and if trends continue in current hospital utilisation by people with chronic conditions and in healthcare costs. 8

These pressures are exacerbated by an ageing population. The value of NHS services provided to a retired household is nearly twice that of a non-retired household; and as retired people age, the cost of meeting their community healthcare needs sharply increases. 9 Older people are more likely to have specific health conditions that require expensive long-term treatment.

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