Population set to rise by 10 million in fastest expansion since the Sixties
It took 57 years for the population to rise from 50 million to 60 million. New figures predict that it will take just 24 years to increase by 10 million to 70 million
Richard Ford, Home Correspondent
From The Times
October 22, 2009
The population of the United Kingdom is projected to grow at its fastest rate since the baby boom of the 1960s. The number of people is expected to rise by 10 million to 70 million, with immigration accounting for most of the increase.
As the population grows, better healthcare will mean millions more living longer, with the number of people aged 100 and over increasing sevenfold to 80,000, according to official figures published yesterday.
The greying of the population will result in the number of people of pensionable age increasing by one third to 15.6 million.
This combination of a rising and an ageing population will have major consequences for the provision of housing and schools and for the development of services to care for the elderly.
Both of the main political parties have already unveiled plans to require people to work longer before they collect their pensions and are preparing for the long-term care of the old.
Guy Goodwin, the director of population statistics at the Office for National Statistics (ONS), said: The ageing is embedded in the system. It is much more certain than the future relating to migration.
Mr Goodwin spoke as the ONS published population projections showing that in less than 25 years the population will rise from 61 million today to 71 million in 2033.
This is less than half the time that it took to increase from 50 million to 60 million between 1948 and 2005.
The figures mean that 425,000 people will be added to the population every year the equivalent of a city the size of Bristol.
Immigration will be the biggest driver of the population growth over the next quarter of a century. Net migration the difference between those entering and leaving the country will add 180,000 to the population every year.
When the impact of immigrants children is added immigration will account for 68 per cent of the total population growth.
Since its last population projection two years ago the ONS said that there had been a fall of 10,000 in the projected annual net migration figure.
The slight fall means that the symbolic 70 million population figure will be reached a year later than previously projected. Englands population will rise by 7 per cent from 51.4 million to 55.6 million in 2018, Waless by 10 per cent, from 3.0 million to 3.3 million, Scotlands by 4 per cent from 5.2 million to 5.5 million and Northern Irelands by 7 per cent from 1.8 million to 2.0 million.
Scotlands increase is a smaller percentage because of lower fertility and lower life expectancy among its population.
Phil Woolas, the Immigration Minister, said that the projections showed that population growth was starting to slow. But Mr Goodwin denied that the slowing in the increase was significant. Asked about the 70 million figure being reached a year later than previously projected, Mr Goodwin said: We were reaching there in 2028 on the last projections; we are now reaching them in 2029.
That marginal slowing up is due to taking account of more recent data but I would not call it a significant slowing up in any way.
The Conservatives and MigrationWatch UK called for measures to limit the number of immigrants.
Damian Green, the Shadow Immigration Minister, said: This shows how irresponsible Alan Johnson was when he said in July that he did not lie awake at night worrying about a population of 70 million. The failure of Labour to control immigration has left us in this difficult position.
Sir Andrew Green, the chairman of MigrationWatchUK, said: The Government is in denial about the impact of immigration on our population growth. Government measures are just scratching at the surface. Really serious measures are needed, and soon.
Peter Madden, the chief executive of Forum for the Future, said: Population growth will put greater pressure on our public services and increase competition for housing.
Protecting our environment and meeting climate change targets will become even harder. And, unless it is handled properly, social cohesion will suffer.These projections are a wake-up call for politicians. They must start planning now to manage population growth in a way which benefits people and the environment and which respects our obligations to the international community.
The projections were published as the Government announced that a series of new questions linked to migration were to be included in the 2011 Census, which is set to take place on March 27. People will be asked new questions on their identity, citizenship and language, while overseas nationals will be asked how long they intend to stay in the UK and the date they entered the country.
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