10 July 2018

Poll: 74% want to see a UK population strategy

According to a national YouGov poll commissioned by Population Matters, 74% of UK adults believe the government should have a national strategy for addressing population, while 64% think the rate of population growth projected by the Office for National Statistics is too high.

Conducted following the announcement that the UK population has topped 66 million, the poll also found that 63% of people supported the government setting targets for the population. 50% believe the current UK population is too high. Population Matters has called for the establishment of a Sustainable Population Policy in the UK.

The poll was conducted after the release of the most recent population estimates for the United Kingdom in June, showing that its population has reached 66 million – 10 million more than in 1985. The Office for National Statistics’ most recent projection for future growth is that the UK’s population will be just under 73m in 2041.

Sustainable Population

Poll shows concern across groups

The poll found consistent concern about population, across age groups, political positions and social classes. Only 2% of questioned people in total believe our population to be too low. Asked about the negative impacts of population, 41% thought pressure on public services was the most important effect and 15% thought housing pressures. Nine per cent were most concerned about impact on the environment and on quality of life.

Sustainable Population Policy

Population Matters is calling on all political parties to support the implementation of a Sustainable Population Policy for the UK. Its recommendations include setting targets for population and making population and demography the responsibility of a Cabinet Minister.

Population Matters director Robin Maynard said:

“The message of this poll couldn’t be clearer: people want politicians to address the overall issue of population and its impacts. Across all the main political parties, including across the polarised positions on Brexit, those who want action or are concerned about our present and projected population numbers, outnumber those who are satisfied or think population is too low. 

 “Whilst plenty of polls have told us about people’s concerns about immigration, this is the first recent poll to look beyond that narrow framing and focus on the numbers, as provided by the best available analysis. As such, it tells policy-makers that the public have broader, legitimate concerns about population pressure that cannot be dismissed as based merely on ideology, party affiliation, polarised positions on Brexit, or simply ignorance.”

“People across the board are looking for intelligent, forward-planning and positive action on population from government – a strategy for the immediate and long-term to achieve a population in balance with the available resources and infrastructure of our country, and wider, shared global ecosystems. That’s what Population Matters is calling for, a Sustainable Population Policy underpinned by best available evidence and recognising wider planetary responsibilities and human rights.”

More details on the results of the poll can be found on our press release here.

Sustainable Population