The national statistics population estimates mid-2016 revealed that the population of the UK was estimated to be 65,648,000 as of 30th June 2016.
The number of people that are resident in the UK including migrants has increased by 0.8% (538,000). That is a growth rate similar to the average annual growth rate since 2005.
Has the population growth rate with the influx of migrants been responsible for the housing crisis in the UK?
According to an article on theguardian.com, Theresa May claimed that more than a third of all new housing demand in Britain was caused by immigration.
“And there is evidence that without the demand caused by mass immigration, house prices could be 10% lower over a 20-year period,” she said.
The London School of Economics report that May cited as the source for her claim also says: “In the early years even better off migrants tend to form fewer households as compared to the indigenous population; to live disproportionately in private renting; and to live at higher densities. However, the longer they stay, the more their housing consumption resembles that of similar indigenous households.”
This reduces the likelihood that immigration is the biggest strain on housing – the new migrants tend to live in denser households and take up less living space. Migrants are more likely to rent in the private sector in preference to buying homes or living in social housing.
The National statistic show that the effects felt from immigration on housing is mixed, and location specific. Due to the fact that the UK has a lack of social housing stock, an increase in life expectancy, and more households choosing not to get married or forgoing cohabitation resulting in an increased number of smaller households – any caps on immigration could potentially harm house building rates. Not enough British-born nationals are either trained or interested in construction careers, and migrants have been filling the void.
The overview of the UK Population, March 2017 revealed how the UK population compares with the other 32 member states of the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association. It showed that, using a 1st January 2016 population estimate, the UK was estimated to have the third largest population and the fourth highest population density.
The population increase of the UK reflected increases of 193,000 people through natural change (35.8% of the total increase), 336,000 through net international migration (62.4% of the total increase) and an increase of 9,500 people in the armed forces population based in the UK.
The annual population growth varied across the UK. In England it was 0.9%, Wales 0.5%, Scotland 0.6% and Northern Ireland 0.6%. The UK population continues to age, but at a slower rate than recent years with only a small change to the proportion aged 65 and over (18.0% in mid-2016 compared with 17.9% in mid-2015) and an unchanged median age of 40.
While the population in England grew faster than the rest of the UK, population growth at regional level ranged from 1.3% in London to 0.5% in the North East.
Comparing the mid-2016 and mid-2015 population estimates at the local authority level showed that:
- The total population grew in 364 local authorities in the year to mid-2016, compared with 350 to mid-2015
- While the 26 local authorities showing population decreases to mid-2016 were spread throughout England, Wales and Scotland, 17 of these were in coastal areas
- Of the 14 authorities showing population increases of 2% or above, 8 of these were in London
Five of these local authorities were in Inner London:
- City of London
- Islington and Haringey
- The other three a block in East London – Tower Hamlets, Newham, and Barking and Dagenham
Altogether, there were 223 local authorities with more people moving in than out, of which 93 had a net inflow of more than 5 per 1,000 population (mid-2015) and 25 had a net inflow of more than 10 per 1,000 population. Many of those were in areas that also had a higher net inflow: South West, East of England, South East and East Midlands.
There were still local authorities within these regions that had a net outflow, showing that there is considerable within-region variation.
Equally, there were 125 local authorities with more people moving out than in, of which 50 had a net outflow of more than 5 per 1,000 population (mid-2015) and 25 had a net outflow of more than 10 per 1,000 population. London had a specific concentration of local authorities with high net outflows, reflecting the high net outflow for the London region overall. An important explanation for this is that many parents with young children move out of London.
London was the most common region of first residence for international migrants to the UK and some of these may later move to other regions, potentially also with children. Similar factors may also contribute to the high net outflows from many provincial cities.
Immigration is a major factor in the demand for housing. We found some interesting statistics from Migration Watch UK (full report here):
- To meet overall demand it is estimated that the UK needs to build 300,000 homes a year
- In England alone, 240,000 homes will need to be built every year for the next 25 years, 45% of which will be due to migration
- This means we will need to build one home every four minutes for the next 25 years just to house future migrants and their children
- Official data shows that over the last ten years, 90% of the additional households created in England were headed by a person born abroad.
- In London all of the additional households formed in the last ten years were headed up by someone born overseas
- In the short term the UK needs to build more homes. In the longer term any housing strategy must also address demand
- Reducing net migration will reduce the demand for housing
All said and done, we need to build more homes so let’s get Britain building!