Migrants to be main drivers of UK population growth

The population of the UK is projected to increase by three million to almost 70 million over the coming decade, driven principally by increased immigration.

Migrants to be main drivers of UK population growth
Projections from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Monday suggested the estimated total of the UK population of 66.4 million in mid-2018 would grow to 69.4 million by mid-2028."Over the next 10 years, 27 per cent of UK population growth is projected to result from more births than deaths, with 73 per cent resulting from net international migration," says the ONS.The ONS said it expected immigration to decline in the immediate future – presumably because of Brexit and uncertainty over the UK's future immigration policy – but would then pick up and "have a greater impact on the size of the population than the combination of births and deaths".

England sees the largest growth in annual net migration

The projections do not include an assessment of any Brexit effect and are based on annual net migration 190,000 – the average annual inflow over the past 25 years.This means that, by the middle of 2028, an extra 5.4 million migrants will have arrived in the UK, while 3.3 million people will have left, giving a net inflow of 2.1 million. Over the same period, there will be 7.2 million births and 6.4 million deaths.Most of the population growth will be seen in England, where a five per cent rise is expected in the next decade, compared to 3.7 per cent growth for Northern Ireland, 1.8 per cent in Scotland and 0.6 per cent in Wales.

Inward migration key to Scotland’s future

Scotland's Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop says the figures suggest that inward migration would be the sole driver of population growth north of the border, adding that the projections do not take into account the damaging potential impact of Brexit.“Our pension age population is projected to grow, while our working-age population falls and could decline even further if EU migration is reduced," she says.

Have your say on UK immigration policy - the Migration Advisory Committee wants to hear from you

Ms Hyslop adds, "This is why Scotland needs inward migration to support our public services and economy, particularly in sectors like tourism, hospitality, construction and agriculture, but also to enrich and diversify our society.“The Scottish government recently established a Ministerial taskforce to look at Scotland’s future population challenges and develop new solutions to address demographic changes, including supporting rural settlement and growing our birth rate and working-age population.“However, it is clear Scotland urgently needs powers to deliver a tailored immigration system so we can mitigate against the risks of the UK government’s increasingly restrictive policies and ensure Scotland can continue to be a welcoming, progressive and diverse country.”

The effects of an ageing population

The ONS said that while the UK birth rate would remain stable, the indigenous population would be affected by increasing numbers of death among an ageing population born in the 'baby boom' years immediately after the end of World War Two."The population is increasingly ageing and this trend will continue," says the ONS. "However, because of the expected rise in the state pension age to 67 years, it is projected that slightly fewer than one in five people will be of pensionable age in 2028, a similar proportion to today."

For more news and features on immigration, visit our dedicated Immigration section.

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