Revealed: the UK towns with the most residents aged over 90

6 January 2020

Over-90s are fastest growing age group in UK, and they are clustering in a few prime spots across the country

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This year the number of over-90s in Britain will have increased by more than a third (36%) since 2010, bringing the total number of nonagenarians 616,000, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Growth of this grey army is significantly outpacing that of the wider population, which is up only 7% for the same period.

Thirty years ago, the UK was home to just 237,900 over-90s – less than half the figure for today.

You are more likely to be aged 90 or over in the rural Hampshire enclave of New Forest than anywhere else in the country. Analysis of ONS data by Aegon, a retirement company, found the hotspot will be home to 3,610 residents aged over 90 this year, making up 1.98% of its population, the highest in the UK.

Over-90s are most likely to live in the South East – it is on course to have six out of the top 10 areas with the highest proportion of residents who have made it into their nineties.

Top 10 UK areas with the highest proportion of population 90 years and over (2020)

Rank

Area

Region

People 90 years and over

% of population 90 years and over

1

New Forest

South East, England

3,610

1.98%

2

Rother

South East, England

1,847

1.91%

3

Eastbourne

South East, England

1,997

1.88%

4

Conwy

Wales

2,126

1.81%

5

East Devon

South West, England

2,635

1.81%

6

North Norfolk

Eastern England

1,891

1.80%

7

Lewes

South East, England

1,830

1.75%

8

Arun

South East, England

2,734

1.67%

9

Chichester

South East, England

2,022

1.65%

10

Powys

Wales

2,148

1.63%

Source: ONS 2020

By comparison, Tower Hamlets in London will have the lowest percentage of over 90s in the UK. Just 0.26%, or around one in 400, of its population will be aged 90 and over in 2020.

While New Forest has the most over-90s, East Dunbartonshire in West Scotland will have seen the largest growth in the proportion of over 90s. It is projected this year to double compared to figures for 2010, making up almost 1.2% of residents.

The Midlands is the region with the biggest growth in population aged 90 and over during the last 10 years.

Planning for the 100-year life

With rising life expectancy, the trend for growing numbers of over-90s in Britain’s towns and cities is expected to continue, as Baby Boomers move into older age.

According to the ONS, one in five boys and one in four girls born today is projected to live to 100. In 50 years’ time this is expected to be around half for new-born children.

Living longer either means working longer to pay for the extra years, or saving harder while working to pay for an extended retirement.

Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon says: “Improved life expectancy across the UK is something to celebrate but as our population ages it’s important to remember that a longer life requires more money to fund it.

“It is crucial, therefore, we build these changes into our financial planning so we are not caught short in retirement.”

Working out how much we need in retirement is one of the hardest parts of financial planning. To help, experts at Loughborough University and the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) got together to crack the nut of what is “enough”.

Savers can use the findings, laid out in the UK Retirement Living Standards, to make pension saving a realistic goal, by picturing themselves living the life their money can afford – and, if they don’t like what they see, to save more to bump up to the next level.

Minimum, moderate or comfortable?

The UK Retirement Living Standards are pitched at three levels; minimum, moderate and comfortable, alongside a basket of goods and services they can buy, from food and drink to holidays.

The standards work out at £10,000, £20,000 and £30,000 a year for individuals, and £15,000, £30,000 and £45,000 annually for couples.

Saving a pot big enough to give you an income of £10,200 a year, for a single person, and £15,700 for a couple, will put you into the “minimum lifestyle” bracket. This should cover all your basic needs, while leaving enough to treat yourself once in a while.

Savers in this bracket will be spending £38 a week on food shopping, have a yearly holiday in Britain, go for dinner in a restaurant once a month, and take part in a couple of cheapish hobbies every week.

With the full state pension of almost £8,800, plus some private retirement savings, most people should be on track for at least this level of comfort when they retire.

Saving a bit more will give you a “moderate” lifestyle. This is around £20,200 a year for singles and £29,100 for couples. For it you get everything you would have enjoyed at the minimum level, plus a bit more.

You’d have around £46 a week to spend on food shopping, maybe a two-week break in Europe every year, dine at fancy restaurants several times a month, and take up more adventurous past times.

Finally, for those who want a deluxe retirement, or what’s been branded “comfortable”, experts have upped the minimum income figures to £33,000 a year for single people and £47,500 for couples.

Retirement for this group looks like regular beauty treatments, £56 a week on groceries, theatre trips and long-haul holidays, maybe to Mexico or Mauritius.

However, these figures won’t work for everyone. They are based on the assumption that most people will not have a mortgage, rent or social care costs to pay once they retire.

The social care problem

A growing and ageing population means demand for care services is increasing, and funding has not kept pace.

A 2019 report by Age UK, the older persons charity, detailed that between 2017 and 2040 the numbers of people aged over 85 – the group most likely to need health and care services – is projected to nearly double from 1.4 to 2.7 million.

The same report found spending per head of the adult population fell by 17.5% in real terms between 2010/11 and 2017/18.

According to, a report by healthcare specialists Laing & Buisson in 2018, private care homes costs can range from £27,000 to £39,000 a year for a residential care home, or £35,000 to £55,000 if nursing care is also required.

In the latest Queen’s Speech, the government repeated its commitment to reforming adult social care, after the failure of successive governments to tackle the problem.

Cameron adds: “Our ageing society brings with it significant challenges, particularly with issues such as social care and access to public services and it’s important to recognise that demands will vary across the different areas of the UK.

“We hope this will lead to a concerted cross-party action to solve this crisis.”

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