Rural elderly put pressure on services

PEOPLE living in rural coastal areas have the highest life expectancy in England, confirms a study.

The Somerset village of Hinton St George tops the UK life expectancy league table, devised by actuaries at Towers Watson.

Hinton St George narrowly edged out Aldeburgh (Suffolk) and Frinton-on-Sea (Essex). Seaview (Isle of Wight) and Ferndown (Dorset) complete the top five.

The UK towns with the highest life expectancy are nearly all in the south of England. Talybont (Merionethshire, Gwynedd) is the only exception in the top 15.

The study of mortality rates among people receiving occupational pensions indicates that retirees in Bootle (Merseyside) will die at a younger average age than anywhere else in the country.

Besides Bootle, the areas with the lowest life expectancy are all in Northern Ireland or Scotland.

They include Castlederg and Strabane (both County Tyrone) and Saltcoats (one of four Ayrshire towns in the bottom 15).

Among English postal towns, pensioners in Salford (Greater Manchester) have the shortest life expectancy after those in Bootle.

In Hinton St George, a male pension scheme member retiring at 65 with a pension size and industry background typical of the UK could expect to live to 88.7 years and a woman to 91.6 years.

In Bootle, these figures are 84.9 years and 89.0 years.

The study has a particular resonance for rural practitioners.

An ageing rural population, which is rising much faster than the rest of the country, is already putting additional pressure on already strained services.

Some studies suggest 5.3 million of England's projected 5.5m population growth until 2028 will be due to the rise in the over-60s – many of them living in rural districts.

Remote rural areas are expected to see a 47% increase in residents aged 50 or over by 2028. This compares to a projected 30% increase in numbers of the same age group nationally.

Matthew Fletcher, a senior consultant at Towers Watson, said: "Where people live can be a powerful predictor of how long they will live.

"Of course, this does not mean that a man could extend his life by four years simply by moving from Merseyside to Somerset.

"Instead, a pensioner's address provides clues to other things linked to life expectancy, like their lifestyle and how much money they have from sources besides their pension.

Towers Watson studied the recent mortality experience of 51 defined benefit pension schemes, which have 1.5 million retired members between them.

It examined how the chance of dying at each age varies between clusters of postcodes from across the country whose residents have been assessed to have similar characteristics.

The analysis shows how life expectancy can differ by two or three years when comparing areas within towns, or even neighbouring streets.

An average overall life expectancy for each of 1,446 postal towns was produced using the mix of postcodes in each.

Towers Watson ranked towns using the average male and female life expectancy at 65 for pension scheme members after adjusting for differences in pension size and job background.


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