How our ageing population will widen the urban/rural divide

Our report ‘Demographic change and housing wealth’ explores the projected changes in the population over the next two decades. This is the second in a series of blogs highlighting some of the key findings, and posing questions we’d like your opinion on.

Gerald Koessl is a Research Officer, National Housing Federation

Gerald Koessl is a Research Officer, National Housing Federation

24 August 2018

In my previous blog, I highlighted that the population of England is set to rise by around 9 million by 2039, which includes an increase of 5.7 million people aged 65 and above. Changes like this can have a major geographical impact, and in this case may lead to a greater urban/rural divide. If this were to happen, what would be the consequences for housing?

As a nation we’re living longer, and this will affect us all wherever we live. But the population make-up of urban and rural areas is likely to change in different ways. While we will need to adapt to an ageing population right across the country, including in our cities, the average age of rural populations is set to increase more than it will in urban areas.

What does this mean for those of us who work in housing?

These changes will create very different housing needs in different parts of England.

In terms of our urban population, economically thriving areas like London and the South East as well as big cities such as Manchester and Birmingham are likely to face rising demand for housing across all age groups. Many people living in or needing to move to these areas are already facing severe affordability problems and these pressures are likely to remain. Providing affordable housing in central and well-connected urban locations will therefore be one of the key challenges in order to maintain social diversity and make sure that people with lower incomes will be able to live there.

Rural areas are likely to see a stronger rise in demand for housing from older people. An ageing population means that a growing number of people will need homes that reflect their changing needs. This presents a challenge: making the right adaptations to existing homes in order to ensure accessibility. It also highlights the need to build more new homes to cater for the needs of an older population and help individuals live independent and healthy lives.

In 20 years’ time, the make-up of our population will look very different. As a housing sector, we need to consider now how this will affect the way we provide homes. What will be the impact on your organisation?

Read the full report.

What do you think?

I’d like to hear your opinion on how these changes will impact on your provision of housing services and your local area. How do you think it will affect your organisation and the way it provides homes?

Join the discussion

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