ONS figures don’t show 14 million people will arrive in the UK ‘in the next 12 years’

19 June 2024
What was claimed

14 million people will arrive in the UK in the next 12 years.

Our verdict

That’s not right. The ONS actually projects that 10.4 million will immigrate to the UK between this year and mid-2036. Net migration over this period is projected to be even lower.

A graphic shared by Reform UK claims the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says 14 million people will arrive in the UK “in the next 12 years.”

In a paid Facebook advert featuring the graphic, which is based on a well-known Conservative party advert from 1979, the party says: “Our future is at stake with 14 million new arrivals in 12 years.”

The 14 million figure appears to be based on the latest ONS national population projections. But it’s not correct to say these projections suggest 14 million immigrants will arrive in the UK “in the next 12 years”.

This is because the ONS’s projections cover a period beginning in mid-2021. These figures project that in the 15 years between mid-2021 and mid-2036 a total of 13.7 million people will immigrate long-term to the UK. But we’re already several years into this period, so the total over “the next 12 years” will be lower.

The ONS has confirmed to Full Fact that its projections indicate that 10.4 million people will immigrate to the UK between mid-2024 and mid-2036.

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What about net migration?

It’s important to be clear that immigration figures alone don’t show how migration impacts population growth.

The ONS projected 13.7 million people would arrive in the UK between mid-2021 and 2036. But it also estimated that 7.6 million people will emigrate long term from the UK over this period.

That leaves us with net population growth due to international migration of 6.1 million people over the 15 year period.

And over the next 12 years—the period Reform’s advert refers to—net migration is projected to total around 4.5 million.

These projections do still suggest that net migration will account for the majority of the UK’s population growth over these periods. 

Selective or misleading use of official information without appropriate context and caveats can damage public trust in both official information and intermediaries like public figures or popular social media accounts. Caveats and context should always be included when claims are made, and oversights rectified when they occur.

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