Immigration and recession boost UK population by 420,000... the fastest growth in Europe
New figures show there were 63.7million in the UK in mid-2012
Increase of 419,000 or 0.7% in a year, Office for National Statistics says
813,200 births in 12 months, the largest number seen since 1972 165,600 more international migrants arrived than emigrants left
By Steve Doughty
PUBLISHED: 07:30 EST, 8 August 2013 | UPDATED: 20:13 EST, 8 August 2013
The population in Britain is rising more steeply than anywhere else in Europe, according to official estimates yesterday.
Numbers rose by almost 420,000 in a year, driven by the highest birth rate since 1972.
The figure, which covers the 12 months to the middle of 2012 is more than the population increases in Germany, Belgium, Holland and Sweden combined.
The Office for National Statistics says around four in ten of the additional people are immigrants. Six out of ten are the result of rising birth rates, which brought a 40-year high in the number of babies born last year – 254,400 more births than deaths.
But a major cause of the baby boom is immigration. More than a quarter of all newborns have mothers who were born abroad.
The total number of people living in the UK at the end of last June was 63,705,000.
The rate of population increase last year held steady despite Coalition attempts to reduce immigration, the ONS said. Its report said the 419,900 increase in population for 2011-12 was ‘about average’ for the past decade.
Annual population growth first hit the 400,000 mark in 2005, following the opening of Britain’s borders and labour market to Poles and other Eastern Europeans in 2004.
If the increasing numbers continue unchecked, the population will hit the landmark 70million point in the early months of 2027.
The figure is a level at which many commentators believe housing, transport, utilities, education and the NHS will be severely stretched.
Yesterday’s estimates mean that by the middle of 2012 Home Secretary Theresa May’s efforts to reduce net immigration – the amount by which migrants push up the population each year – to 1990s levels had yet to have an impact on the total number of people in the country. The figure is currently 165,000.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: ‘These figures show the continuing failure of the Government to get a grip on immigration into this country. The results of this increase in population can be felt in communities up and down the country as public services struggle to cope with the increase in demand.’
He added: ‘At the same time we face cuts to frontline services and send billions of pounds abroad in foreign aid. And this is before Romanian and Bulgarian citizens have full access to the UK come January next year.’
The British population increase was almost a third higher than the rise in the next fastest-growing EU country, France. During the same period the French population rose by just over 319,000.
Numbers in Germany went up by 166,000, in Belgium by 91,000, in Sweden by 70,000 and in Holland by 62,000. All have been magnets for immigration in recent years.
But Britain’s population is expected to outstrip those of France and Germany over the coming decades, becoming the most populous country in Europe by 2050.
Numbers here have gone up by more than half a million since the last national census, taken in March 2011. Since 2001 the population increase has been 4.6 million, the ONS said.
London saw the greatest rise in 2011-12, at more than 100,000. The rapid change came despite 51,000 people leaving the capital, mainly for homes in the suburban towns of southern and eastern England.
Paul Vickers of the ONS said: ‘A quarter of the UK population increase happened in London. Together, London, the South East and East of England accounted for over half the growth.’The population pyramid shows how many people of each age there were, including the large numbers of so-called baby boomers and the low birth rate a decade ago
One in three migrants arriving in Britain went to London. International net migration – the number of immigrants minus the number of emigrants – was 69,000.
Simon Ross, of pressure group Population Matters, said: ‘Our growing population is the root of many of our most pressing problems, including a lack of housing, pressure on services and development threats to our countryside and green spaces.
‘These, together with consequent infrastructure investments and transport issues are increasing costs for everyone.
‘Measures by the Government to limit net migration are to be welcomed. However, the Government should also promote the benefits to individuals and society of smaller families.’