Increased death rate 'could increase legacy income by an extra £310m'

The Office for National Statistics says there will 5 per cent more deaths in the next five years than it previously predicted, which Legacy Foresight says means bequests worth £15.6bn will be made in the same period

An increase in the number of predicted deaths could lead to an extra £310m being left to charity in legacy gifts over the next five years, according to the legacy consortium Legacy Foresight.

The Office for National Statistics has released its latest predictions for the population of the UK until 2049/50, and has revised its estimates up from its previous projections in 2015.

It now predicts there will be three million deaths over the next five years, which is 140,000 or 5 per cent more than previously expected.

As a result, Legacy Foresight now expects there will be 640,000 charitable bequests worth a total of £15.6bn in the next five years, 2 per cent or £310m more than Legacy Foresight’s prediction earlier in the year.

Tim Yates, an analyst at Legacy Foresight, said the organisation had previously suspected that the death rate would rise beyond the ONS’s 2015 prediction, but had forecast an increase of only about 3 per cent.

"The new figures pose vital questions about the many possible reasons why the number of deaths is expected to rise to this extent," he said.

"We will continue to look into why the projections have changed so greatly and what it means for our legacy market projections over the next five years."

In August, Legacy Foresight said that, despite rises in the death rate and the number of bequests received by charities in the year to 1 June 2017, the value of legacy income had fallen slightly.

It said this drop was likely to have been caused by a fall in the value of residual bequests – where people leave specific amounts of their estates to people, then whatever is left goes to charity – due to a fall in the price of property and an unsteady stock market in the wake of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.

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