Natural changes take Britain’s population to 62 million

More than immigration, birth and death rates contribute to growth

25th July 2010: Britain’s population hit 62 million-mark last year, even as the country saw a second successive annual fall in net migration. It is now clear birth and death rates, rather than immigration, contributed to the growth.



The latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics say the numbers are rising by more than 1,000 a day.

The figures suggest the UK population has grown twice as fast as in the 90s and thrice the rate of the 80s, since the turn of the century.

Statistically speaking the UK population increased to 394,000 over 12 months to reach an estimated 61.792 million by the middle of last year.

The average annual rate of increase since 2001 has been 0.6 per cent, against 0.3 per cent in the 90s and 0.2 per cent in the 80s.

The ONS figures say 45 per cent or approximately 177,000 people of last year’s rise was due to net migration, that is the number of people leaving Britain’s shores minus the numbers arriving.

The vastness of the growth from mid-2008 to mid-2009 was a result of natural change, that is the difference between births and deaths, which was 217,000.

Migration was responsible for 70 per cent of population growth in 2001-02. But in 2008-09 natural change was responsible for 55 per cent of the growth.

Even though the contribution of the migrants to the UK’s economy is now well established, the statistics are expected to mount pressure on the new Government to put into force Conservative promises of bringing immigration down.

The government has already made it clear Britain can benefit from immigration, but not uncontrolled immigration.

Acknowledging the contribution made by the immigrants, the government had asserted that look at any aspect of life today and you see the contribution the migrants have brought, and not just to the economy.

They wanted to continue to attract the brightest and the best people to the UK, but with control on the overall numbers coming here.

Reacting to the latest figures, MigrationWatch spokesman Alp Mehmet said immigration may have come down during recession, the trend was still on course for the population to reach about 70 million within 20 years, and the majority of that growth would be due to immigration.

The ONS has suggested that the population will touch the 70 million mark in 2029 with continuing high immigration, even though Labour former Home Secretary Alan Johnson had asserted he would not spent sleepless nights over it.

Immigration Minister Damian Green reiterated only a couple of days back they would slash the number of migrants coming to the UK which was 562,000 last year.

He said over the coming weeks and months the public will see us introducing a wide range of new measures to ensure immigration is properly controlled, including a limit on work permits, actions on marriage and an effective system of regulating students who come here.’’

An ONS spokesman said until mid-2008, the number of births was increasing partly due to rising fertility among UK-born women and partly because there were more women of childbearing ages due to inflows of female migrants to the UK. However the recent decline is driven by a decrease in the UK-born female population of childbearing age.

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