Steve Doughty, London Daily Mail, January 2, 2008
England is poised to become the most crowded nation in Europe, according to official figures.
The number of people crammed into each square mile is due to overtake levels in Holland and Belgium—and may already have done so.
Large-scale immigration is pushing up demand in the South of England for more homes, more transport and more services.
The new evidence of increasing population density brought charges from the Tories that ministers have been ignoring the risks of overcrowding.
The figures were released by the Office for National Statistics in a Commons written answer.
They show that in England in 2005 there were 387 people for every square kilometre, and this rose to 390 per square kilometre in 2006.
This is around 620 per square mile.
At that rate England will now have overtaken the most crowded major country in Europe, Holland, which had 393 people for every square kilometre in 2005.
Its population is growing at a much slower rate than Britain because of the higher immigration levels in this country.
By 2031, the ONS forecasts, England will have 464 people per square kilometre.
Around 70 per cent of population growth is a result of immigration, and much of the rest is accounted for by higher birthrates among recent immigrants.
The most crowded country in Europe, according to the statistics, is Malta.
But Malta is a small island with only 400,000 citizens, most of whom live in and around the city of Valletta.
Crowding in England is almost double that of Germany and quadruple the population density in France.
The figures are likely to increase concern over Labour’s plans to build hundreds of thousands of homes, mainly in southern England.
The homes are needed to cope with the increasing population and there are fears that many will end up on green belt land that is currently protected.
Tory MP James Clappison, whose questioning secured the release of the figures, said: “These figures show that England, if not the most crowded already, will very soon be so.
“Immigration is a substantial factor leading to greater population density.”
He added: “This is more evidence of the impact of immigration, and if present patterns of migration continue we are going to get much more crowded. There will be a big impact on quality of life.”
One of the factors fuelling immigration to Britain is a benefits system discouraging British workers from taking low-paid jobs, a report warns.
Some 1.3million immigrants have come to the UK seeking work in the past ten years—but 3.5million Britons are claiming Jobseekers Allowance or Incapacity Benefit.
According to the MigrationWatch think tank, a culture of benefits dependency is fostering an “underclass of discouraged British workers”.
In addition, it claims the arrival of huge numbers of immigrants tends to drive down wages—adding to the disincentive for those on benefits here to find work.
Ministers have repeatedly claimed that record levels of immigration are needed to fill up to 600,000 “vacancies” in the UK economy.
That is disputed by critics who say mass immigration pushes native workers out of the labour market.
Gordon Brown promised “British jobs for British workers” last year but opponents claim it is an empty pledge as long as immigration continues at its current rate.
The MigrationWatch research concludes that a combination of generous benefits and means-testing means there is “little financial incentive for people with families living on benefits to find employment”.
Examples cited in the study include a family with one parent earning the minimum wage who will be between £14 and &£24 per week worse off than if they received maximum Incapacity Benefit.
The parent would have to find a job paying £12.25 per hour before they would be better off—more than double the minimum wage of £5.52.
The study claims that getting Britons back into work as an alternative to mass immigration would slash the social security budget, ease pressure on infrastructure and services, curb the downward pressure on wages and reduce the “nonworking underclass”.
MigrationWatch chairman Sir Andrew Green said: “We keep hearing that we need immigrants to do the jobs that the British won’t do.
“It has been suspected for some time that benefit levels are a real disincentive to take work that is on offer and our research spells out why this may be so.”