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Dover District Profile

The 2023 Dover District Profile brings together the key facts and figures about the district. It presents the challenges and opportunities that make up the fabric of the district.  

Please also see our Census 2021 page for further information on the district. This includes District, Ward, and Town and Parish Profiles.

Please note that this page is under development.  


Dover is one of twelve local authority districts in Kent. Dover borders with Thanet to the north, Folkestone and Hythe to the southwest, and Canterbury to the northwest. 

The district covers an area of 320 square kilometres and has around 32 kilometres of coast. Over a fifth of the district (22%) is designated part of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Three percent of the district is defined as Heritage Coast, centred on the famous white cliffs on either side of Dover. 

The district is mostly rural, with two main urban areas, Dover and Deal, and two rural service centres, the medieval town of Sandwich and Aylesham. Dozens of villages and smaller settlements make up the rural area. 

The district's location at the narrowest point along the English Channel, approximately 25 miles from Calais, means it is at the centre of travel to and from Europe. Yet, it is on the edge of domestic economic activity. 

The M20/A20 and M2/A2 roads connect the district to the main highway network, providing a direct link to London. High-speed rail connects the district to London and the wider rail network. 

In recent years, Dover town has seen significant investment. This includes new retail in St James’, a revamped promenade and beachfront, and a new pier and marina. It is also a point of destination for many illegal migrant crossings.

The district offers various sports and leisure facilities. These include leisure centres, parks and gardens, play areas, cinemas, theatres, and museums. The area is also famous for its golf courses, including the Royal St George’s in Sandwich, which has hosted the Open Championship. 


The district has a population of around 116,410. This represents 7.4% of Kent County Council’s resident population. 

Over the past ten years, the district’s population has risen slower than the average for Kent and England. The district’s population growing by +4.2% (4,700) between 2011 and 2021, compared to +7.7% for Kent and +6.6% for England.

The district population is forecast to increase by +13.3% between 2020 and 2040. This will increase the population size to 134,300. This growth is slower than the forecast population growth for Kent (+20.4%).  

Age and gender

The district has an ageing population, with an average (median) age of 46 years. This is higher than the average for the South East (41 years) and England (40 years). 

Most of the district’s population are adults aged 16 to 64 (68,233 or 58.6% of the total resident population). There are 27,900 adults (24%) aged 65 and over and 20,275 young people (17.4%) aged 15 years and under. 

More females (51.2%) than males (48.8%) live in the district. 


The district’s population is mainly white, with 94.9% of residents identifying their ethnic group within the “White” category. This is higher than the averages for Kent (89.4%), South East (86.3%) and England (81.0%). 

The largest ethnic minority group in the district is “Asian, Asian British,” with 2.1% of the population. 

Less than half of the population (49.6%) now identifies as “Christian”, with 42.4% of residents having “No religion.” 

The majority of people aged three years and over in the district speak English as their primary language (96.43%). 

Most people aged 16 years and over in the district identify as straight or heterosexual (90.23%). Just under 3% identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or other (LGB+). 

Households and dwellings 

The district has 50,552 households with residents. A household breakdown shows:

  • 31.0% are one-person households.
  • 63.7% are single-family households.
  • 5.4% are other household types.

Most homes in the district are semi-detached houses or bungalows (31.0%). Terraced houses or bungalows account for 27.9% of homes, and detached houses or bungalows (23.4%). The breakdown of other dwellings is as follows:

  • Purpose-built blocks of flats (12.2%)
  • Part of a converted or shared house (2.7%)
  • Part of a converted building or commercial building (2%)
  • Caravan or other mobile or temporary structures (0.7%).

Most households owned their home either outright (39.1%) or with a mortgage or loan (27.2%) or shared ownership (0.8%). Just under a fifth (19%) were living in private rented homes, 13.9% in social rented, and 0.1% lived rent-free. 

Electoral Wards 

Dover District Council has 32 Councillors who are elected every four years. Each Councillor represents one of 17 wards. Each ward may elect one, two or three councillors depending on the size of its electorate. 

Aylesham, Eythorne, and Shepherdswell ward has the highest population total, with 11,700. The next highest are the wards of Town and Castle, with 8,300, and Guston, Kingsdown and St. Margarets-at-Cliffe, with 8,000. Alkham and Capel-le-Ferne ward has the smallest population, with 3,200. The next lowest are the wards of Tower Hamlets, with 4,500, and Maxton and Elms Vale with 4,000.

Local Economy and Business

The economy of the Dover District is closely linked with the Port of Dover. This is Europe’s busiest ferry port and a vital international gateway for the movement of passengers and trade.  

As of 2021, the district is home to 3,875 active businesses, which is the lowest number in Kent. Most businesses (99.9%) are small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which employ less than 250 people. 

The top five sources of employment in the district are:

  • Construction industry (17.9%)
  • Professional, scientific, and technical industry (14.1%)
  • Retail (9.3%), accommodation and food services (9.0%)
  • Business administration, and support services (7.3%).

The Office for National Statistics estimates that the GVA per head in the district is £21,559. This estimate is the sixth lowest in Kent (out of twelve) and the 19th lowest in the South East. 

Between January and December 2022, 74.0% of the resident working-age population (56,500) were economically active. This means they were either at work or actively looking for a job. This percentage is below the averages for the South East (80.7%) and Great Britain (78.5%). The overall employment rate for this period was 72.4%, and the unemployment rate was 3.6%. 

In April 2023, the unemployment rate in the district was 3.9% (2,630). This rate compares with 3.4% for Kent and 2.9% for the South East. The wards with the highest unemployment rates were Town and Castle (8.6%), Tower Hamlets (7%), and St. Radigunds (6.3%). Youth unemployment (18- to 24-year-olds) was 6.7% (510). This rate is higher than the averages for Kent (5.1%) and the South East (3.8%). 

For full-time workers, the average gross weekly earnings by place of residence are £670.30. This is lower than the average for the South East (£685.30) but above the average for England (£645.80). Male full-time workers (average £686.60 pw) earn more than female full-time workers (average £604.30 pw. 

Housing Affordability 

The average house price in the Dover district during 2021 was £325,718. This average is below the average price for Kent (£390,171) and the South East (£435,976). The district average has increased by +8.9% over the year, and by +233.8% from 2001. 

Over the past 20 years, housing affordability has worsened in the district, as it has across the country. In the 12 months to September 2022, the average home sold for £300,000, while the average workplace-based full-time earnings were £31,341. This gives an affordability ratio of 9.6, compared with 8.16 for England and Wales. This ratio means that full-time employees could expect to spend around 9.6 times their earnings buying a home. The ratio is up from 4.03 in 2001.

Between October 2021 and September 2022, the average private market rent for properties of all sizes in the district was £725 per month. This compares with averages of £890 in Kent and £975 for the South East. The district average is the second lowest of the Kent local authority districts.

Council tax records show that over a quarter of properties in the district (26.5% or 14,250 homes) were built before 1900. 


In the 2019 English Indices of Deprivation, the district ranked 113 out of 317 English local authority districts. 

The district has deprivation ’hot spots’ among some of the most deprived areas in the country. The highest levels of deprivation are in the urban areas of Dover. Five district Lower-layer Super Output Areas (LSOAs) are in the top 10% of the most deprived areas in England. These fall within the wards of St. Radigunds, Maxton, Elms Vale and Priory, Buckland, Castle, and Buckland. 

13.4% of residents in the district (15,110) are income deprived. Five LSOAs are in England’s top 10% most deprived. These LSOAs fall within the wards of St. Radigunds (40.2%), Town and Castle (28.7%), Buckland (28.6%), Buckland (27.9%), and Middle Deal (26.9%). The first listed LSOA is also in the country’s top 5% most deprived.

In the Dover district, 11.3% of the working-age population (6,925) are employment deprived. Five LSOAs are in England’s top 10% most deprived. These fall within the wards of St. Radigunds (24.9%), Town and Castle (24.0%), Buckland (23.3%), Town and Castle (21.4%) and Buckland (20.7%). The first two LSOAs listed are among the country’s top 5% most deprived. 


The "percentage of children in absolute low-income families (under 16)" in the district (15.9%) was worse than the averages for the South East (10.8%) and England (15.3%). The "percentage of children in relative low-income families (under 16)" in the district (22.0%) was also worse than regional (15.1%) and England averages (19.9%).

The rate for “Homelessness - households with dependent children owed a duty under the Homelessness Reduction Act,” in the district is 17.0 per 1,000 households. This rate is higher than the average for the region (11.7) and England (14.4). The rate for “Homelessness – households owed a duty under the Homelessness Reduction Act, where the principal applicant is 16 to 24 years old” is also worse than the values for the South East and England. 


Over a fifth (21.0%) of the district’s population has a long-term health problem or disability that limits their day-to-day activities in some way. This percentage compares with 17.3% nationally. 

Self-reported health in the district is worse than the England average, with 79.2% of residents describing their health as either ‘very good’ or ‘good’ and 6.2% as ‘bad’ or ‘very bad.’ This percentage compares to national averages of 82.2% for ‘very good’ or ‘good ‘and 5.2% for either ‘bad’ or ‘very bad.’ 

The district scores significantly worse on several health indicators than England averages. These include:

  • Emergency hospital admissions for intentional self-harm
  • Estimated dementia diagnosis
  • Smoking prevalence in adults (18+)
  • Percentage of adults (18+) overweight or obese.

The suicide rate in the district is also higher than the England average. 

Health Inequalities

Inequality in life expectancy has increased in the Dover District. For females, rising from 3.3 years in 2010/12 to 6.1 years in 2018/20. For males, rising from 6.3 years to 7.3 years during the same period.  

Male life expectancy at birth in the district is 77.4 years, which is lower than the averages for the South East (79.9) and England (78.7). 

Female life expectancy at birth in the district is 82.5 years, which is lower than the averages for the South East (83.8) and England (82.8). 

Community Safety 

The recent trend for “violent crime offences" in the district has been rising, with a rate of 47.6 per 1,000 population. This rate is higher than the values for the South East (32.3) and England (34.9). The district is in the top 20% for England. 

The recent trend for “violent crime – sexual offences" in the district has fallen to 3.6 per 1,000 population. Yet, this is above the regional value of 2.9 and England’s value of 3.0. 

Education and skills 

The Census 2021 shows that 17.3% of people aged five years and over in the district are full-time students. 

It also reveals that 19.5% of people aged 16 years and over in the district have no qualifications. 27.0% have level 4 qualifications and above as their highest qualification.