For many years, the UK has guaranteed quality education and healthcare, predominantly free of charge, for all its residents. Population growth has put a big strain on these two major public services. Schools cannot keep up with pupil numbers and face difficulties when recruiting teachers. The National Health Service (NHS) faces an increasingly large funding gap and has been forced to increase its waiting times.
In this briefing the challenges faced by both public services, and the consequences this has for society, will be explored. The great challenges posed by population growth are costly for the UK regardless of whether it responds. Investments to maintain quality would put a strain on the Treasury, but the UK could face immense long-term costs if the government fails to address the challenges appropriately.
It will be argued that while technological improvements and better lifestyle choices can improve the situation significantly, they cannot do so indefinitely. Ultimately, population size needs to stabilise, so that the UK’s residents do not have to accept lower-quality standards. Consequently, the government must promote policies that aim at population stabilisation.