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Three million more in 10 years. Is England’s growth sustainable?

The population of England is expected to grow by three million people by 2026, according to the latest release from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). The population of every region in England is also projected to increase by mid-2026, with London set to grow fastest.

Based on the 2016 population estimates, England’s overall population is expected to grow from  55.3m to 58.5m over the following decade, a rate of 5.9%. London’s anticipated population of 9.5m will be 8.8% higher than it was in 2016.

Almost every local authority in England is expected to grow.

“Growth not inevitable”

In a media statement, our director Robin Maynard said:

“We’ve become so used to these projections that we almost don’t notice their scale anymore – but this is a total of 3 million people over less than a decade, affecting every single local authority in England. Public services and infrastructure are already stretched beyond their limits. Only a fantasist could believe that they have the capacity to accommodate this level of growth in demand.

“Population growth is not an inevitability. The government has tools at its disposal to manage immigration, influence & nudge people towards smaller family size, and plan ahead for the increased cohort of elderly people. It’s time they used those as part of a humane, effective and integrated strategy to achieve a level of population that is in everyone’s interests.”

Where people come from

The ONS also released annual statistics detailing the proportion of the UK population born outside the UK. 9.4 million people were born outside the UK (around one-in-seven of the total population) and 6.2 million UK residents are not British citizens (one-in-ten). 3.6 million people born abroad now living in the UK are British nationals.

In his statement, Robin Maynard said:

“People who live in Britain, wherever they are originally from, have a far greater environmental impact than most global citizens. Smaller families are essential to achieving a population in the UK which our natural environment and infrastructure can support. People in less affluent countries tend to have more children and when they migrate to more affluent countries like the UK, although their fertility rates usually match the norm in time, they push up average family size at first. We need to foster the understanding across British society that larger families are environmentally unsustainable, whether that is in the Royal family or one that has just stepped onto our shores.”

Take Action

The UK needs a Sustainable Population Policy. Learn more here.

Learn more about the UK’s population and its impact here.


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