Saturday, March 04, 2017

UK population will hit 70 million bringing fears and opportunities

The population of the UK will soar to over 70 million and become the largest in Europe by 2050, bigger than France and Germany, due to an ageing population and immigration, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

ONS figures show there has been more births than deaths in every year since 1976, which combined with a net migration increase over around 250,00 per annum has swelled the UK population to 65 million. By 2045 the population will reach 76 million experts predict.

Over 65's will hit 25% in 30 years

The age time bomb is an issue all over Europe and a quarter of the UK population will be over 65 within the next 30 years. The current generation does not appear to be as prudent as their predecessors when it comes to saving, with millions holding less than £100 in the bank and going through life in perpetual debt. 

Increasing life expectancy is another factor in the population increase, as people live longer, due to improved healthcare and lifestyles, and will be drawing their state pension for many more years than the schemes were expected to run. In future, Girls born in 2015 are expected to live 82.8 years from birth, and boys to 79.1 years. 

The proportion of people aged over 65 has increased from 14.1 per cent in 1975 to 17.8 per cent in 2015 - which means there is a lower proportion working people paying taxes to support pensions and healthcare for the elderly - and the is projected to reach a quarter of the population by 2045.

There will be an extra 10 million over 65s in 2045 than there were in 1975 - accounting for over half of the population growth seen in that period.

The UK will have a larger population than any European Union country by 2050, at 77 million, according to Eurostat. The UK is the third biggest country, after Germany and France, which has falling birth rates and an ageing population.

The proportion of working citizens is projected to fall as a result of the growth of the ageing population, which has huge implications for pensions, housing and employment.

Immigration to the UK and overall net migration has helped boost the population by 250,000 per year over the last two decades, which did fall slightly last year. In 2015, 631,500 people immigrated to the UK, while emigration was 299,200. 

Opportunities and fears

A growing population is good for the economy as it can mean that there are more people available to participate in the workforce and provide jobs in service sectors such as healthcare and leisure.
However, an ageing population will lead to strains on the NHS and other public services. Estimates show there were 308 of a pensionable age for every 1,000 people of a working age in 2016 - and this figure is projected to increase to 365 in 2037. 

When releasing the data, the ONS said: "While living longer is a cause for celebration, an ageing population may result in fewer people of working age to support those of pension age.

"This increase means that there will be fewer people of working age to support a larger population over State Pension age. While a larger population increases the size and productive capacity of the workforce, it also increases pressure and demand for services such as education, healthcare and housing."

In the government White Paper, Housing Minister Gavin Barwell admits that the housing system is broken and wants the country to build hundreds of thousands of new homes every year to cope with demand and the current shortage. In order to build, employers will need skilled labour, which means workers from the EU will still be in demand. In turn, this initially creates more housing demand.


More houses will be needed

Last year, 16,000 EU citizens were granted UK citizenship, indicating that despite Brexit many Europeans want to remain living in Britain.

The reason people migrate here is because the UK is an attractive place to work, start a business or buy property – no restrictions on foreign buyers - a vibrant mortgage market with record low interest rates.

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