Intelligence: 25 March 2020ONS 2018 - based Sub National Population Projections

On 24 March 2020 the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released their 2018-based Sub National Population Projections (SNPP). The SNPP provide population projections for each local authority in England over a 25-year period (2018-2043) and replace the previous 2016-based series published in May 2018.

An understanding of the projections is crucial for town planning purposes, identifying which sectors of the population are projected to increase or decline, enabling the most effective planning responses to be put into action.

One of these sectors is the ageing population. Understanding where population change in this sector is likely to have the greatest socio-economic impact is critical to ensuring we are correctly planning for its impact and delivering the relevant homes to support it.

In this context, our Development Economics team have analysed the 2018-based ONS SNPP to provide an updated picture of how the ageing population is projected to change over the next 25 years.

Population aged 65+ in 2018 and 2043

The first two maps (Figures 1 and 2) show the proportion of the total population aged 65+ for each local authority in England recorded at the start of the projection period (2018) and projected forward to 2043.

In 2018 the data shows us several local authority clusters, particularly around the coast in the North West, North East, South West, and the South. These include the following authorities with the highest proportions of population aged 65+ as of 2018:

• North Norfolk (33%);
• Rother (32%);
• East Devon (30%);
• East Lindsey (30%);
• Tendring (30%);
• New Forest (30%).

The data shows us that in 2018 only 5 local authorities had a 65+ population which made up at least 30% of the total population, increasing to 90 local authorities by 2043.This includes the following authorities:

• Rother (41%);
• North Norfolk (40%);
• Isle of Wight (39%);
• East Lindsey (38%);
• Dorset (38%);
• Fylde (37%).

Figure 1: Proportion of total population aged 65+ in 2018 by local authority

Figure 2: Proportion of total population projected to be aged 65+ in 2043 by local authority


Age Dependency in 2018 and 2037

An alternative way to consider the impact of ageing is to determine the ratio of working age population (16-64 years for the purposes of this analysis) and population aged 65+. Areas with a low ratio are likely to face difficulties in achieving economic growth, as the lack of labour prevents businesses from growing or even maintaining their competitiveness.

As of 2018, there are some notable authorities with a low ratio including the following (see Figure 3 below):

• North Norfolk (1.62);
• Rother (1.67);
• East Devon (1.79);
• Tendring (1.83);
• East Lindsey (1.84);
• New Forest (1.91);
• Arun (1.92);
• Dorset (1.94).

There are also notable clusters of lower ratios in all regions. As of 2018, there are 37 local authorities with a ratio of 2.25 or less.

The 2018-based ONS SNPP shows us how this is expected to increase to 152 local authorities by 2043 (see Figure 4 below). This includes the following ratios:

• Rother (1.13);
• North Norfolk (1.18);
• Isle of Wight (1.23);
• Dorset (1.25);
• New Forest (1.3);
• East Devon (1.33).

This significant increase is likely to have a significant economic effect as the base of taxpayers shrinks and costs of elderly care grow.

Figure 3: Aged dependency ratio by local authority in 2018

Figure 4: Projected age dependency ratio by local authority in 2043


In summary, the 2018-based ONS SNPP reveal how the population across all regions will age considerably over the next 25 years. This change is even more marked at a local authority level, with some authorities projected to have an almost 1:1 ratio between working age (16-64 years) and 65+ years by 2043.

The Planning system will have to respond to the challenge suggested by these latest projections in due course.

For further information please contact our Development Economics team (below).

Posted with the following keywords:
Sub National Population Projections, SNPP, ONS, Later Living, Development Economics