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UK Population to be driver for allocation of funding

Comment 6th July 2010

Currently, any discussion of UK population gets bogged down into other debates regarding immigration, so it is a non-subject, the "elephant in the room".  

UK Population has increased from 52m in 1960 to 61m in 2008.  It is a steady increase that can be observed on a number of websites incl Office for Nat Stats.  This will increase to 65m by 2018 and 70m by 2030.   

It seems to me that we have limited resources to meet the needs of this population growth – do we have the land mass, the water, the food, etc ? If so, that's great, but without considering this growth, our strategic planning in the UK seems to get hijacked by political idealism and political correctness.   The following are some examples:

Water: Do we have enough? John Prescott's ambitious housing plans for the SouthEast would have gone some way to meeting the trends in population growth and shifts in housing needs (single parent families, more social housing, and other demographic changes).  But, the plans are a nonsense when we consider there is insufficient water for that increased population, including sewage, etc.    Does this imply there is a maximum number of people that the SouthEast can sustain?  So, If we need more water in the South East? is is available, lets say from Wales?).

Its an infrastructure question – strategically, the only way we should consider building more in the South East is if there are infrastructure changes that support it (more roads, water, etc).

Prison places, Justice system, policing: logic tells me that the level of criminality in any society is likely to be a consistent percentage of the population requiring a custodial sentence. We can tinker with early release, and other things that take the pressure off, but there should be a recognition that prison places, the number of people in the judicial system, number of courts, numbers of police, should slowly be increasing in line with population number.   So, with  a projected 34% increase in population from 1960 to 2030, surely it follows there should be a similar increase in resourcing these services to meet the increased criminal activity.

I could continue:- we can apply this to the numbers of schools (teachers, school places), hospitals (beds, nurses), transport (vehicles on the road at any one time, public transport), water, in fact anything.   At this level, population as a meta-narrative supercedes other arguments regarding "how" we meet those needs (at which the politicians can argue their various political preferences).     


Why does this matter?


Until we face this question head on, we cannot say "should there be a cap on uk population, and if so, what is the largest number we can sustain?" .  We cannot answer subsidiary questions, such as "should we be worried about immigration, or indeed emigration", or "how will pensions and healthcare needs of an increasingly elderly population be met".


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