The UK’s Ageing Population

Like many other countries, the UK has an ageing population. Based on the 2018 mid-year population estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there are now 12.2million people aged 65 & over in the UK, with this figure having increased by 2.9million (31.2%) since 1998. To put this into perspective, the number of people aged 0-15 and 16-64 in the UK increased by 5.1% and 12.0% respectively from 1998-2018.

Figure 1: Projected population growth by age group in the UK, 2018 – 2038

Projected population growth by age int he UK - 2018-2038
Source: ONS









Looking to the future, 2018-based populations from the ONS indicate that the number of people aged 65 & over in the UK is projected to increase by 4.8million between 2018 and 2038. This would equate to an increase of 39.7%, compared to a rise of 1.8% (754,000) in the number of people aged 16-64 and a decline of 4.5% (572,000) in the number of people aged 0-15. One of the implications of having an ageing population is that the UK’s housing offer must adapt accordingly to provide homes that are better suited to meeting the needs of older people.

Accommodation for Older People

Housing for the elderly can take a number of different forms, both non-specialist and specialist housing. Specialist housing for the elderly has come to be seen as an important element in integrated development approaches, aimed at meeting the housing, health and social care needs of the ageing population (1). Types of specialist housing for the elderly include (2):

Sheltered accommodation: also known as retirement housing, sheltered housing is flats or bungalows designed to make life easier for older people – with features such as raised electric sockets, lowered worktops, walk-in showers, and so on. Some will usually be designed to accommodate wheelchair users. They are usually linked to an emergency alarm service and many have a manager or warden living on-site.

  • Assisted living/Extra Care Housing: housing designed with the needs of frailer older people in mind and with varying levels of care and support available on site. People who live in extra care housing have their own self-contained homes, but domestic support and personal care are available, usually provided by on-site staff.
  • Close care: a relatively new concept which consists of independent flats or bungalows built on the same site as a care home. Residents often have some services (such as cleaning) included in their service charge and other services can be purchased from the care home.
  • Care homes: a residential setting where a number of older people live, usually in single rooms, and have access to on-site care services. A home registered simply as a care home will provide personal care only – help with washing, dressing and giving medication. A home registered as a care home with nursing will provide the same personal care but also have a qualified nurse on duty twenty-four hours a day to carry out nursing tasks. Both personal care and nursing care homes, can be registered for a specific care need, for example dementia or terminal illness.
  • Retirement villages: can be anything from an estate to a village-sized development of bungalows, flats or houses, intended for occupation by older people. Some retirement villages include a care home alongside independent living and assisted living properties, and most of the larger ones include leisure and hobby facilities as well as small local centres.

How Can Pegasus Group Help?

At Pegasus Group, we can carry out assessments which look at the need for different types of elderly accommodation in an area. This involves analysing the current supply of accommodation and then projecting forward to identify future need and any potential shortfall. We have carried out need assessments for elderly accommodation in a number of local authority areas, including Cheltenham, Cheshire West and Chester, Colchester and East Cambridgeshire.

Delivering increased provision of elderly accommodation can bring a number of economic and social benefits to an area. Pegasus Group can assess these benefits and we have done this for schemes across the country, including developments in Essex, North Somerset, Wirral and York. Examples of the economic and social benefits we focus on are summarised below:

Economic Benefits:

Some of the economic benefits of specialist housing for the elderly include:

  • The temporary construction jobs and the permanent job creation associated with building additional specialist care accommodation and the economic output supported by this employment.
  • Cost savings to the NHS from reduced GP and hospital visits.
  • Additional household expenditure in the local area as a result of freeing up under occupied family housing.

Social Benefits:

Living in specialist housing can also have large benefits to the social well-being of elderly residents, for example:

  • Specialist residential housing is a lot more accessible for residents with disability – improving their overall mobility.
  • It helps to reduce social isolation and loneliness amongst the elderly population, which can negatively impact upon quality of life and well-being (3).
  • It increases people’s friendships, support networks and amount of social activity and participation – all incredibly important aspects of older people’s lives.
  • Residents feel more secure.
  • It enables elderly people to maintain their independence (4).

For further details on how Pegasus Group can help in assessing the demand for care accommodation and its economic impact, please contact our Economics team below:

Richard Cook, Director – Economics, Andrew Poulton, Principal – Economic Analyst and Emily Hall, Senior Economic Analyst.

Richard Cook, Andrew Poulton and Emily Hall (Economics)
(Left to right) Richard Cook, Andrew Poulton and Emily Hall


(1) Extra Care Housing for Older People – An Introduction for Commissioners: The Department of Health, January 2004.
(2) Definitions of specialist housing are sourced from the Elderly Accommodation Council’s Glossary
(3) Social Well-Being in Extra Care Housing: An Overview of the Literature: PSSRU, March 2008.
(4) Improving housing with care choices for older people: an evaluation of extra care housing: PSSRU & Housing LIN, December 2011.