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Population Matters statement on ONS population estimates

Population Matters media release 26 June 2019, immediate use

Population Matters statement on ONS population estimates

Office of National Statistics: Population estimates for the UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland: mid-2018

Population Matters director Robin Maynard says

“These figures give no grounds for complacency about UK population growth. Birth rates and migration fluctuate from year to year but our already unsustainable population is continuing to rise and that will continue until a positive strategy is put in place to address it. 

“The government has announced ambitious plans to achieve a zero carbon economy but by ignoring our unsustainable population growth, it is driving with the brakes on. More people means more emitters and more emissions. Our growing numbers are incompatible with our climate change commitments, the health of our environment and our quality of life.

“Unlike the government, the electorate  fully understands that action to address this challenge is vital. A Population Matters poll last year 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 respond. 

“It’s time for a reasoned, evidence-based and honest public debate about population. There are effective, ethical measures that can and should be taken to ensure a sustainable population, one that’s consistent with the environmental commitments we’ve made and the quality of life we all deserve. Population Matters is calling for an integrated, strategic, evidence-based Sustainable Population Policy in the UK (2). That needs to happen now.” 



 Alistair Currie, Head of Campaigns and Communications


T: +44 (0)208 123 9170

Notes for editors

ONS Population estimates for the UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland mid-2018 

(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) Population Matters,  Sustainable Population Policy


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