1. Main points

  • The number of households in England is projected to increase by 4.0 million (17%) over the next 25 years, from 22.9 million in 2016 to 26.9 million in 2041.

  • This equates to 159,000 additional households each year compared with the 210,000 previously projected.

  • Households headed by someone aged 65 years and over account for 88% of the total growth in households between 2016 and 2041.

  • The highest growth of households is projected to take place in London; while the North East is projected to have the slowest rate of household growth of all regions.

  • Five of the ten local authorities with the highest rate of household growth are in London.

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2. Statistician’s comment

"Today’s figures show that the number of households in England is projected to increase by 4 million between 2016 and 2041, a slower growth than previously projected. This reflects lower projections of the population – notably assumptions around future births, how long we’ll live and migration – and more up-to-date figures about living arrangements, such as living with parents or cohabiting.

“We project the majority of household growth over the next 25 years will be because of the rise in the number of households being headed by someone aged 65 years and over. This shows the impact an ageing population is having on household growth.”

Joanna Harkrader, Centre for Ageing and Demography, Office for National Statistics.

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3. Things you need to know about this release

What are household projections?

The 2016-based household projections provide statistics on the potential future number of households in England and its local authorities up to 2041. They show the household numbers that would result if the assumptions based in previous demographic trends in population and household formation were to be realised in practice.

We publish household population projections every two years. These latest projections supersede the 2014-based household projections. Breakdowns of overall projected numbers of households by household type are provisionally due to be published on 3 December 2018.

This is the first time Office for National Statistics has published household projections for England. They used to be published by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). The 2016-based household projections for England have not yet been formally reviewed for compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics since their transfer from MHCLG to ONS. The Office for Statistics Regulation will conduct this review in the near future.

Household projections are not forecasts. They do not attempt to predict the impact of future government or local policies, changing economic circumstances or other factors that may influence household growth, such as the number of houses built. Household projections are not a prediction or forecast of how many houses should be built in the future. Instead, they show how many additional households would form if the population of England keeps growing as it did between 2011 and 2016 and keeps forming households as it did between 2001 and 2011. Therefore, household projections should be used as a starting point for calculating the future housing needs of a local area.

The methodology for the 2016-based household projections takes the previous 2014-based methodology as its starting point, with changes being made to reflect changes in data availability over time and changing assumptions about household formation and population change. The changes made to the methodology between the 2016-based and 2014-based household projections are more wide-ranging than the changes made between the 2014-based and 2012-based household projections. For more information about the methodological changes, please refer to the methodology document.

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4. By 2041, the number of households in England is projected to reach 26.9 million

Between 2016 and 2041, the number of households in England is projected to grow from 22.9 million to 26.9 million, an increase of 17% (4.0 million). This equates to an average of 159,000 additional households per year.

While the number of households is projected to grow, it is not expected to grow by as much as was previously projected. The 2014-based household projections projected on average 210,000 additional households per year, between the period 2014 to 2039 (Figure 1).

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5. The largest growth is in households headed by older people

Households headed by someone aged 65 years and over are projected to increase by 54% by 2041, while those headed by someone aged under 65 years are projected to grow by just 3%.

88% of the total growth of households in England between 2016 and 2041 is for households headed by someone aged 65 years and over. This is due mainly to the growing proportion of older people in the population.

Of the older age groups, the largest projected growth in households is among those where the household head is aged 85 years and over. The number of these households is projected to more than double, reaching 2.0 million by 2041.

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6. The highest household growth is projected to take place in London

The number of households is projected to grow in every region in England by 2041. London is the region where the largest growth in households is projected to take place. The number of households in London is projected to increase by nearly one-quarter (24%) during the period 2016 to 2041, from 3.4 million to 4.3 million.

Household growth in the north of England is projected to take place at a slower rate than the rest of the country. The North East is the slowest growing region, where the number of households is projected to increase by 8% (92,000) by 2041.

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7. The number of households is projected to grow in nearly all local authorities by 2041

Numbers of households are projected to grow in all but five local authorities by 2041. Table 3 shows the local authorities with the highest projected percentage change in households from 2016 to 2041. Five of the fastest growing local authorities are in London, with the fastest growing of all being Tower Hamlets.

Although every region in England is projected to grow by 2041, there are considerable differences at the local authority level; slower growing regions can contain faster growing local authorities and the other way around.

Table 4 shows Barrow-in-Furness is projected to have the largest percentage decrease in households between 2016 and 2041, with a decrease of 7%. This is followed by Copeland and City of London, both with decreases of 6%. It is important to note the actual change in the number of households when reviewing the projections for smaller local authorities, as large percentage changes can come from comparatively small changes in the number of households. The changes seen for the City of London and Isles of Scilly result from declines of 200 and 40 households respectively.

Figure 3 is an interactive tool that illustrates how the number of households in each local authority in England is projected to change. By choosing a local authority, you will see the total change in the number of households alongside the 2016 and 2041 projected numbers of households.

Figure 3: Projected percentage change in number of households for local authorities in England, 2016 to 2041

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Source: Office for National Statistics

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8. Testing alternative assumptions

Variant population projections are based on alternative assumptions about future fertility, mortality and migration. These illustrate what the population would look like if one or more assumptions are varied and provide an indication of uncertainty.

Population projection variants are produced on the national level and can be input into the household projections system to produce household projection variants. These variant household projections are intended to help demonstrate the drivers of household growth; when compared with the principal projection, which represents the most likely scenario for household growth.

The high fertility assumptions have the smallest effect on the household projections; these assumptions increase the household growth rate by an average of 1,000 households per year. This is because even if additional children are born, there is limited potential for them to reach the age at which they could become a head of household during the 25-year projection.

The low life expectancy assumptions have a larger impact on the number of projected households than the fertility assumptions. The low life expectancy variant projects on average 19,000 fewer households per year than the principal variant. The high migration variant projects 31,000 additional households per year, while the low migration variant reduces the principal projection by the same amount per year (Figure 4).

The zero migration variant allows us to illustrate the proportion of household growth in the principal household projection that can be attributed to migration. This includes both international migration and cross-border migration between England and other countries of the UK.

Figure 5 shows that the zero migration variant assumptions have a larger impact on the projected number of households compared with the other variants, resulting in 58,000 fewer households per year than the principal projection. This suggests that net migration accounts for 37% of projected household growth between 2016 and 2041, with natural change (the difference between the number of births and the number of deaths) accounting for 63% of projected household growth over the same period.

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9. Quality and methodology

The Household projections Quality and Methodology Information report contains important information on:

  • the strengths and limitations of the data and how it compares with related data

  • uses and users of the data

  • how the output was created

  • the quality of the output including the accuracy of the data

We have also published a methodology report to provide information on how the projections were produced and an article assessing the accuracy of the household projections, through comparisons with the household estimates and other data sources.

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