Population Matters

United Kingdom: key facts

United Kingdom: key facts

Our population is growing

The current population of the UK is 65.6 million people.
Office for National Statistics (ONS)

In 1950, the population was 50 million: it is projected to be more than 70m by 2026.

In 1950, the UK’s population density was 207 people per square kilometre: today it is 262 people/square km and by 2050, is expected to be 300.
United Nations Population Division (UNPD)

Since 1955 (except in 1976) the number of births in the UK has been higher than the number of deaths.

Net migration increased the population by more than 250,000 people per year on average from 2004 to 2015.

The rate of population growth in the UK since 2005 is the highest since 1972.

The UK has the highest teenage birth rate in Western Europe.
Family Planning Association

Our consumption is unsustainable

Container portAn individual Briton produces 70 times more CO2 than a person from Niger.
World Bank

According to the Global Footprint Network, the UK uses nearly three times the renewable natural resources its land can provide.
Global Footprint Network

More than two-thirds of the land needed to produce the UK’s food and animal feed is abroad: 64% of the related greenhouse gases are emitted on foreign soil.
Journal of the Royal Society

Our environment and quality of life are paying the price


The UK is one of the most “nature depleted” countries in Europe, losing species at more than the global average.
State of Nature Report 2016

The government estimates the UK needs 200,000 new houses a year to meet growing demand. Some experts say 300,000.
Architects Journal 

An extra 750,00 school places will be needed in England by 2025 because of growing population.
Department for Education

There were just over 16 million total hospital admissions in 2015/16, 28 per cent more than a decade earlier. The UK population grew by a little under 10% in the same period.
NHS Confederation

The south-east of England ranks 161st out of 180 areas globally in terms of its ability to deliver sufficient water to its population.
Royal Geographical Society

Population density in Europe is just 32 people/sq km. At 410 people/sq km, England is the most overcrowded large nation in the EU.


National Population Policy

The critical present and future impact of population growth requires a coordinated and integrated policy approach by government. The UK should adopt a Sustainable Population Policy to:

  • Accurately determine future population growth in the UK and what factors and policies will affect it
  • Assess the impact of population on other policy fields (such as  climate change targets and public services) and integrate population policy into those areas
  • Set targets for ending population growth and stabilising population at a sustainable level
  • Develop an integrated policy framework to meet these targets, including through reducing the birth rate and reducing net migration
  • Ensure the UK takes positive, effective action through aid and intergovernmental activity to support stabilising the global population

More information about the Sustainable Population Policy

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