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UK’s population rises to 66.4m with migration ‘bigger driver’ than births and deaths – ONS | UK News

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The UK’s population rose by nearly 400,000 people last year, with migration a “bigger driver” of the increase than births and deaths, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said.

Official figures show there was an estimated 66.4 million people living in the country at the end of June last year.

However the annual growth rate of 0.6% was the same as the previous year and is slower than any year since mid-2004.

Neil Park, from the ONS, said: “For the fifth year in a row, net international migration was a bigger driver of population change than births and deaths.

“However, overall population change to the year mid-2018 has remained fairly stable as an increase in net international migration has been roughly matched by the fewest births in over a decade and the highest number of deaths since the turn of the century.”

The UK’s population rose by an estimated 395,400 in the year to mid-2018, an ONS spokesman said.

The number of births in the same period was 744,000 – the fewest in any year since 2006, and down 2% on the previous 12 months.

By contrast the number of deaths rose 3% to 623,000 – the most since the year 2000.

It means natural change in the UK population – the number of births minus the number of deaths – is now at its lowest level since 2004.

Net international migration in the year to mid-2018 was 275,000, which was “broadly in line” with the average of the last five years, the ONS said.

UK population growth rate. Pic: ONS
Image:
The population growth rate in the UK. Pic: ONS

The four local authorities with the fastest-growing population are all in central London.

The “relatively high level” of population growth in the City of London, Westminster, Camden and Tower Hamlets is “partly a reflection of the increase in net international migration” between mid-2017 and mid-2018, the ONS added.

Environmental charity Population Matters, which counts Sir David Attenborough as a patron, warned that the UK’s population was “unsustainable” and the government was “driving with the brakes on” as it seeks to achieve a zero-carbon economy.

The charity’s director Robin Maynard said: “Birth rates and migration fluctuate from year to year but our already unsustainable population is continuing to rise and that will continue until a positive strategy is put in place to address it.

“The government has announced ambitious plans to achieve a zero-carbon economy but by ignoring our unsustainable population growth, it is driving with the brakes on.

“More people means more emitters and more emissions.

“Our growing numbers are incompatible with our climate change commitments, the health of our environment and our quality of life.”

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