Statement on 2018-based ONS population projections

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Population Matters statement on today’s Office for National Statistics National Population Projections 2018-based

Population Matters director Robin Maynard says:

“By any standards, another three million people in ten years is a huge challenge to our environment, infrastructure and public services. If it happens, it means providing land, housing and education and health services to another three Birminghams – in a decade. Already only Belgium and the Netherlands are more densely packed among large European nations.

“Of course, any projection of UK population is inevitably speculative. We can see birth and death rates evening out, but we just don’t know how migration is going to play out post-Brexit. What we can be fairly confident of, however, is that future governments will base migration policy on short term political interests and long term pro-growth principles. That’s wholly the wrong approach.

“What we do know is that people really don’t want a more populous country. In an opinion poll conducted by Population Matters last year, 64% of people thought ONS projected growth was too high, with just 1 in 50 thinking it was too low. Half thought our population then was too high, with, again, just 1 in 50 considering it too low. There are nearly half-a-million more people in the UK now than there were when we conducted the poll, just over a year ago.

“The key finding of that poll is that three-quarters of people in the UK want a population strategy – just 7% thought it wasn’t needed. If this or any government really believes the quality of life and health of our environment in this country will be better with another 3 million people in 10 years, and a population of 72 million in 25 years, they have wholly lost touch with reality. A sustainable population policy is needed in the UK now.”

Contact: Alistair Currie, Head of Campaigns and Communications Tel: 0208 123 9170 Email:


Office for National Statistics National population projections 2018-based

European population densities

ONS blog on the approach to Brexit taken in the production of these projections

Population Matters/YouGov poll conducted on 28th – 29th June 2018. The poll was conducted using the population figure of 66m released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 28 June 2018, 400,000 lower than today’s ONS population estimate.  Respondents were informed that the UK’s population in 2041 was projected to be 72.9m (the then most recent ONS projection, made in October 2017 – now 72.4m by 2043, according to today’s figures).

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?

64% – too high 2% – too low 18% – about right 16% – don’t know

The UK’s population is currently 66 million. Generally speaking, do you think this is too high, too low, or about right?

50% – too high 2% – too low 28% – about right 21% – don’t know

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,693 adults.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). See Population Matters press release (10 July 2018) for further details.

Population Matters is a UK-based charity working globally to achieve our vision of humanity co-existing in harmony with nature and prospering on a healthy planet. We drive positive action through fostering choices that will help achieve a sustainable human population and regenerate our environment. We promote positive, practical, ethical solutions – encouraging people to choose smaller families and inspiring people to consume sustainably, to enable everyone to enjoy a decent quality of life whilst sustaining the natural ecosystems upon which all life depends.


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