Devon tops the league table of pensioner wellbeing

30 July 2015

  • Counties in South West England score highly on a ‘wellbeing’ league table measuring pensioner life expectancy, access to healthcare and crime rates
  • Dorset ranked second with Norfolk and Powys in Mid Wales tied for third
  • Six counties in South East England are in the pensioner wellbeing top 20

The South West of England is the place to live if you want a long, healthy and safe retirement, according to a new league table of pensioner wellbeing developed by Prudential1. The league table, which uses a combination of census data and results from the insurer’s
own retirement research, ranks the top 20 counties in England and Wales according to several measures of the wellbeing of their pensioner populations.

According to the league table, six of the top 20 counties for pensioner wellbeing are in the South West of England, with Devon coming out on top of the rankings, Dorset in second place, Gloucestershire seventh, Wiltshire 12th, Somerset 13th and Cornwall 19th.

In another boost for pensioners in the region, Prudential’s own retirement research2 also recently found that the South West saw one of the largest year-on-year jumps in expected retirement incomes among this year’s retirees – with new pensioners expecting to live on 19 per cent a year more than those who retired in 2014.

The pensioner wellbeing league table rates each county against a number of indicators including the ratio of healthcare workers per head of population, the length of time a pensioner can expect to live once they’ve retired, and the annual incidences of crime per thousand members of the county’s population.

Outside of the West Country, Norfolk and Powys also rank highly in the league table. Six counties in the South East of England make the top 20, which overall is made up of 17 English counties and three Welsh.

Vince Smith Hughes, retirement income expert at Prudential, said: “For people hoping to have the most comfortable lifestyle in retirement the best approach remains to save as much as possible as early as possible during your working life – but while being financially secure in retirement shouldn’t be overlooked, issues such as safety, security and health play an important part in a pensioner’s overall quality of life.

“The changes to the rules governing access to pension savings for the over-55s may tempt those looking to relocate somewhere that better suits their retirement needs to dip into their retirement savings to help pay for the move.

“However, before making any decisions on what to do with retirement savings or on how to secure a retirement income, over-55s should make the most of the Government’s free Pension Wise guidance service. In many cases a consultation with a professional financial adviser will also help with all the options now available to retirees.”

Analysis of the league table top counties

Devon, ranked #1

Topping the pensioner wellbeing league table, Devon’s largely rural make-up results in a relatively low 50.1 crimes annually per thousand people – well below the national average of 56.7. The county’s pensioner life expectancy is in the national top 10 for both men and women – the average 65 year old Devonian man can expect to live for another 19 years while a woman can expect to live for another 22 years . Devon also has an above average number of healthcare workers per thousand people at 65.6 compared with the 60.9 national average.

Prudential retirement fact: Of those retiring in 2015, more than a third (36 per cent) of those in the South West of England say they will be able to afford to leave an inheritance to their families – well above the UK average of 29 per cent4.

Dorset, ranked #2

Ranked second in the league table, Dorset’s pensioners have the longest life expectancy in England and Wales – the average 65 year old woman will live for another 23 years and a 65 man another 20 years. A crime rate that ranks as the 9th lowest (with 48.4 per thousand people) is offset by a relatively lowly ranking of 32nd in the country in terms of access to healthcare workers (59.1 per thousand).

Prudential retirement fact: Previous Prudential analysis3 found that Christchurch in Dorset is the UK’s retirement capital, with more pensioners per head of population than anywhere else in the country.

Powys, ranked #3 (equal)

The Mid Wales county’s ranking owes much to the fact that it has the lowest rate of recorded crime in England and Wales – 35.8 crimes annually per thousand people. Pensioner life expectancy for both women and men is in the national top 20 with a 65 year old woman expecting to live another 22 years and a man another 19 years. The provision of 62.2 healthcare workers per thousand people is also just inside the national top 20 counties.

Prudential retirement fact: More than a quarter (26 per cent) of Welsh people retiring in 2015 will be providing childcare to their families in retirement4.

Norfolk, ranked #3 (equal)

Of the three East of England representatives in the top 20, Norfolk ranks the highest. Its crime statistics show the fourth lowest incidence in England and Wales (45.5 crimes annually per thousand people). Life expectancy for pensioners is comfortably within the top 15 nationally for both men and women. The county’s overall position is however tempered slightly by the fact that it ranks 25th out of the 52 counties for provision of healthcare workers.

Prudential retirement fact: Of the 375 local authorities in England and Wales, Great Yarmouth Borough in Norfolk has the second highest proportion of retired hoteliers and restauranteurs and the fourth highest proportion of people retired from the motor trade.5

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