According to the new Office of National Statistics figures, England’s population will grow by 4 million people over the next 8 years. Much of the increase will be in London and the South-East.

The capital’s population will rise by 13 percent to almost 10 million, with increases of over 20 percent  in some local authorities.

Overall, England will see a 7 percent  jump, with the North of the country seeing a rise of only 3 percent .

Simon Ross, CEO of the pressure group Population Matters, said that the rising population will cause overcrowding on transport and put pressure on health and education services.

And, he argues, there could be serious social implications, especially in the light of an already squeezed housing market:

“I think there is a real danger of frustration. People live in smaller properties in the UK simply because of land prices and population density. We have long waiting lists for social housing. So there are dangers of the sort of things we had a couple of years ago when there were rioting. This is what happens generally from the frustration people have of living in very densely populated areas.”

Much of the predicted population growth is due to an expected influx of migrants from abroad.

The government has set targets, hoping to keep immigration below 100,000 people a year.

But it’s failing to meet those - net migration in the final quarter of 2013 was 212,000

Dr Heather Rolfe research fellow at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, says that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Britain, she told VoR, needs migrants, especially young ones:

“There is a problem with the government sticking to its net migration target and aim to bring net migration down to 10,000. This combined with the ageing population would create problems as you would then see decreased productivity and services given that the working population and migrants in particular put in more than they give out. What we would see as a consequence of that - released productivity, higher taxation and possibly a knock on effect on wages. ”

But there’s little sign the economic argument in favour of immigrants is swaying the British public.

The UK Independence Party has campaigned on a platform of severely restricting immigration, saying high migration levels migration put too much of a strain on public services, like hospitals, education, transport and housing.

Its’ stunning success in this month’s European election – where it won more of the vote than any other party – has proved that that message has broad appeal, across much of the country.

Simon Ross of Population Matters says the UKIP vote has forced the government to take note of immigration and overpopulation.

“I think the government is starting to think about it. The vote for UKIP sent a strong signal and the government is trying to stem net migration but its difficult because of the contracts and treaties we have with other countries. About reducing the birth rate- that’s something successive British governments have avoided addressing the birth rate issue.”

Cutting Britain’s birth rate would be one way of reducing Britain’s population but it’s one that there’s little political appetite to try.

More likely are further attempts to curb migration – but these, as the present government is finding out – are difficult to enforce.

Meaning the ONS predictions of a sharp rise in the number of people living in England look almost certain to come true.

(VoR)