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Number of Northern Ireland pensioners to soar by two-thirds

The number of pensioners in Northern Ireland is set to grow faster in the next two decades than almost anywhere else in the UK.

Across the UK the number of people aged 65 and over is predicted to rise by nearly two thirds to reach 15.8 million by 2031.

Northern Ireland has the second lowest percentage of people aged 50 and over, at 31%. Only London is lower at 26%.

But by 2031, more than one in five of the UK population — 22% — will be 65 and over.

Northern Ireland, the East Midlands and the East are projected to have the highest increases in this age group, and London is predicted to have the lowest.

People aged 50 years and over already made up at least one quarter of the population in each region in the UK in 2008 with the highest percentages found in the South West — at 39% — and Wales at 37%, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show.

The region with the largest population aged 50 and over was the South East at 2.9 million — or 35% of the population.

The rise in the age of Northern Ireland’s population could have wide ranging effects on the economy.

A higher number of old people will mean more people claiming a state pension for longer and added pressure on the health service. It could also result in people working for longer, stopping jobs becoming available to the young, a rise in the state pension age or the need for increased immigra

tion to boost the Government’s tax income.

A report from Aon Consultancy last month found that around 35% of workers are making no effort to save for their retirement while only 12% are contributing actively to a pensions fund.

The ONS figures also showed the economic wellbeing of older people varied according to region.

Employment rates for those aged 50 to state pension age in 2008 were at the highest in the South East and lowest in Northern Ireland in 2008.

In 2008, around a quarter of the British population aged 60 years and over were either claiming pension credit or benefiting from it by being related to someone who did claim, the figures showed.

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