Rising immigration helped push the UK population up by almost half a million in just 12 months. Net migration rose to almost 260,000 last year, which when added to the natural growth of births over deaths comes to just under 500,000.
The biggest rises were in southern and eastern England, with London growing by 122,000. Peter Large of the Office for National Statistics said that net migration accounted for the majority – 53 per cent – of the increase, with natural growth accounting for 46 per cent.
Lord Green of Deddington, chairman of Migration Watch UK, warned that the rising numbers would add pressure on housing and other public services.
“A population increase at this rate will only worsen the housing crisis and put still more pressure on our public services,” he said. “It is vital the government realise their ambition to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands.”
Overall, net migration was up by 76,300, the highest level since 2011. According to The Times, the ONS said that migrants now make up 11 per cent of Britons in the 11-35 age bracket, with 807,000 males and 674,000 females. More than one third of migrants also headed for London.
The figures come as record numbers of migrants seek refuge in the EU. European ministers have been trying to find ways to deal with the huge influx of refugees from Syria and Libya, but with no luck. Britain is set to opt out of a plan to force EU member states to take a quota of the migrants.
Simon Ross of Population Matters added: “The ONS estimates should serve as a warning that we need to act sooner rather than later to reduce population growth. We are all affected adversely by the rapid population growth of recent decades.”