Population Matters

Population growth adds to UK bills

Population growth adds to UK bills

The UK Treasury has identified more than £375 billion of planned investment in UK infrastructure over the next 15 years needed to replace ageing assets, replace assets that don’t comply with EU standards, help meet policy commitments such as climate change targets, support economic growth and meet the long-term needs of a growing population. Of this, £250 billion will come from the companies involved and will be passed on by them to approximately 25 million households in the form of higher bills. The remainder will come from taxpayers.


The Chair of the Public Accounts Committee noted that, “While median incomes did not rise significantly in the decade to 2011, energy bills rose by 44 per cent and water bills by 21 per cent, in real terms. High levels of new investment in infrastructure mean that bills and charges are likely to continue to rise significantly in the future. The government is projecting that average household energy bills in 2030, for example, will be 18 per cent higher in real terms compared to 2013.”

Roger Martin, Chair of Population Matters, commented, “This broadly confirms our own research showing the enormous infrastructure costs of population growth. These masquerade as investment, but since they are only needed to maintain current standards for ever more people, they are really depreciation or maintenance costs. The fact that we are currently growing by about one more Liverpool every year means that we have to build and supply a city the size of Liverpool just to stand still in total service provision, leaving very little actually to improve anything.

“The Office for National Statistics projects that by 2050 we shall have grown by between eight and 50 more Liverpools. We put the total infrastructure cost at between £1.1 trillion and £4.2 trillion. Within this at the high end, new power stations paid for by higher energy bills will cost between £380 billion and £1.02 trillion while water supplies across the range paid for by higher water bills will cost between £6 and 23 billion — just to maintain standards. The economic case for stabilising our numbers as soon as possible is overwhelming.”

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