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Population Matters Statement on ONS Overview of the UK population

1 November 2018 immediate use

Population Matters Statement on ONS Overview of the UK population

Population Matters Head of Campaigns Alistair Currie says:

“The take home message from this overview is that while our population is growing at an unsustainable rate, the government continues to do nothing. Earlier this year, a Population Matters poll found that 74% of people support a national strategy to address population, 64% think projected population growth is too high and just 2% – that’s one-in-fifty- think it is too low (1). The public concern is real – the government needs to take action.

 “Population growth means not just even more pressure of the kind we can all see – on our public services, transport, housing and quality of live: it means more hidden but devastating pressure on the environment. Just a few weeks ago the International Panel on Climate Change sent a graphic warning on the need to get global carbon emissions under control right now (2). The UK is adding hundreds of thousands more carbon emitters to our population every year, rolling back a substantial part of the progress we’ve made in tackling our emissions. We’ve just learned from WWF about a global loss of 60% of animal populations (3) and right here, one-in-five UK mammal species is facing extinction and some insect populations – and those of the birds who feed on them – are plunging in some areas (4). Our vital ecosystems are paying the price of feeding, housing and transporting a constantly growing population.

 “The ONS figures again highlight the challenges of an ageing population. These challenges are also opportunities. Creativity, investment, boosting productivity and, as the ONS themselves note, taking advantage of the growing population of fit older people able to make a contribution to our society all provide solutions. What we can’t do is bring back extinct species or melted ice caps.

 “Population Matters is calling for an integrated, strategic, evidence-based Sustainable Population Policy in the UK (5). That needs to happen now.”  




Alistair Currie, Head of Campaigns and Communications


T: +44 (0)208 123 9170

Notes for editors

ONS release

(1) All figures are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,693 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 28th – 29th June 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). The poll was conducted using the ONS population figure of 66m released on 28 June and reaffirmed in today’s release and the ONS population projection of a population of 72.9m in 2041, also reaffirmed in today’s ONS release. Further detail on the poll results available on request.


Generally speaking, do you think the government should, or should not, have a strategy to address population in the UK?

Should: 74% Should not: 7% Don’t know: 18%

Based on current rates of growth, the Office for National Statistics projects that in 2041 the population will increase from 66 million now to 72.9 million. Generally speaking, do you think this rate of population growth is too high, too low or about right?

Too high: 64% Too low: 2% About right: 18% Don’t know: 16%

(2) IPPC, 2018, Global warming of 1.5 degrees

(3) WWF Living Planet Report 2018

(4) Mammal Society, The Guardian 17 June 2018

(5) Population Matters,  Sustainable Population Policy 

Population Matters 135-137 Station Rd London E4 6AG Charity no: 1114109


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