ONS population estimates for England and Wales and long-term international migration statistics

Population Matters statement on ONS population estimates for England and Wales and long-term international migration statistics

23 November 2023, immediate use

Population estimates: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/bulletins/populationestimatesforenglandandwales/mid2022

Migration statistics: Long-term international migration, provisional – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)

Alistair Currie, Population Matters’ Head of Campaigns, says:

“The population of England and Wales has topped 60 million for the first time, and the growth rate for the year to mid-2022 was the highest for more than 60 years. That just can’t go on. People know that a bigger population means more pressure on land, water, hospital beds, school places and public transport; more pollution, greater congestion and increasing climate emissions; and less space, less greenery, and a lower quality of life for current and future generations.

In that context, what we need, but almost certainly won’t have, is an informed, rational debate about what these numbers mean, all their implications, and what we do about them. Instead, we’re likely still to see ill-informed alarmism about low birth rates which ignores all the negative effects of population growth, as well as the available, practical policy solutions to an ageing population. We’ll also see some people leaping on these figures to justify a xenophobic anti-immigration agenda, while others will accuse everyone rightly concerned about growing population of having a xenophobic anti-immigration agenda.

We have to do better.

These figures show interesting nuances, which are likely to get lost among the rhetoric – birth rates have gone up slightly, while immigration has increased significantly – but less than ONS expected. At Population Matters, we’re campaigning for a statutory advisory body to provide independent advice to the government on demographic change, based on evidence, not ideology or politics. It’s our firm position that population growth in the UK is unsustainable for multiple reasons, but let’s all recognise that the first thing we need is a rational debate.”


Alistair Currie, Head of Campaigns and Communications, Population Matters
E: alistair.currie@populationmatters.org
T: 020 4552 5131

Notes for editors

Today’s ONS release updates the population estimates for England and Wales in mid-2022 to be based on methodology. The first three main points extracted by ONS in their release are (verbatim):

“The population of England and Wales at mid-year 2022 was estimated to be 60.2 million, an increase of around 578,000 (1.0%) since mid-year 2021.”

“In the year to mid-2022, there were 574,000 deaths in England and Wales, slightly fewer than in the previous year; the number of births in the year to mid-2022 was 620,000, which was an increase of 11,000 compared with the year to mid-2021.”

“In the year to mid-2022, we estimate that 983,000 people immigrated to England and Wales from outside the UK, while 441,000 emigrated; this makes net international migration to England and Wales 541,000.”

Today’s migration statistics show:

  • The provisional estimate of total long-term immigration for year ending (YE) June 2023 was 1.2 million, while emigration was 508,000, meaning that net migration was 672,000; most people arriving to the UK in the YE June 2023 were non-EU nationals (968,000), followed by EU (129,000) and British (84,000).
  • Net migration for YE June 2023 was 672,000, which is slightly higher compared with YE June 2022 (607,000) but down on our updated estimate for YE December 2022 (745,000); while it is too early to say if this is the start of a new downward trend, these more recent estimates indicate a slowing of immigration coupled with increasing emigration.

The most recent ONS UK-wide population projections, from 2022, project a population of 69.3m in 2030 and to reach 70 million in 2036: 

In October 2021, Population Matters published a report on policy options to address ageing, entitled Silver Linings, not Silver Burdens

More information on pronatal activity in the UK can be found here: https://populationmatters.org/news/2023/11/putting-the-family-in-traditional-family-values/

Population Matters is a UK-based charity working globally to achieve a sustainable future for the benefit of people and planet. Our mission is to promote positive, empowering action to foster choices that help achieve sustainable human population and consumption.


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