The number of households in the Western Isles is set to fall over the next 25 years, against a national background of increasing household numbers.
Na h-Eileanan an Iar is one of just four local authority areas in Scotland expected to see a reduction in household numbers, reflecting not only a lower population but also more households headed by people aged 70 or over, many living alone.
The figures were released yesterday (Wednesday July 11th) by National Records of Scotland, in a report called ‘Household projections for Scotland’.
They are based on projections from 2016 figures, at the midway point between two national census surveys.
Of the four council areas where household numbers are set to fall, the Western Isles will see the largest drop, with 6% fewer households by 2041. Inverclyde, Argyll and Bute and North Ayrshire will also see falls.
The Western Isles is also one of only four council areas where, by 2041, more than half of all households may be headed by someone over 60.
At a projected 53% of homes occupied by people over 60, the Western Isles is only slightly lower than Argyll and Bute, and ahead of South Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway.
The detailed projection for na h-Eileanan an Iar shows an expected 12% increase in households occupied by one adult, male or female, with a huge proportional rise in households where one woman over 90 years old lives alone. That number 1s expected to rise by 247 households, or 187%. By contrast, households occupied by two adults with children are expected to reduce by 821, or 39%.
The report says: “Older people are more likely to live alone than younger people. The number of people aged 70 and over living alone is expected to increase by 49% in the next 25 years. The gender difference reflects women’s greater life expectancy and tendency to outlive their partners.”
The figures are, says the report, in line with previous research which showed the Western Isles with the highest projected population fall in all of Scotland. Earlier figures have shown that the island population is expected to dwindle by 14%. At the same time, households will become smaller.