Minister Robert Jenrick says Brits need to have more children to reduce need for foreign workers and admits the government needs to build more houses and improve childcare to encourage couples to start families earlier
A Cabinet minister today said that Brits needed help to have more children to bring down the need for foreign workers.
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said the country needed a ‘higher birth rate’ to deal with the ageing population in Britain.
He made the remarks in a debate on immigration at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester today, admitting that a shortage of housing was forcing people to delay starting families.
He was responding to comments by academic Professor Matthew Goodwin, who called for a ‘mature conversation’ about how state policy intervention could be used to trigger a baby boom.
In response to his words at a fringe event organised by the Policy Exchange think tank, Mr Jenrick said: ‘I agree strongly with the last point about families. We do need to encourage more families to have children.
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said that the country needed a ‘higher birth rate’ to deal with the ageing population leaving shortages of domestic workers
He was responding to comments by Right-wing academic Professor Matthew Goodwin, who called for a ‘mature conversation’ about how state policy intervention could be used to trigger a baby boom
London is the only region with an average age of less than 40, according to ONS figures
There are more older people than ever, with 11.1million now over 65 — one in six — equating to around two million more pensioners compared with 2011. Despite the Covid pandemic, there has also been a huge rise in the number of people aged 90 or over. There are now more than half a million over-90s, up a quarter in a decade. It means there are now more pensioners than children for the first time in recorded history, with 10.4million under- 15s. For comparison, there were 9.2million over-65s and 9.9million under-15s a decade ago
‘And that’s why the Prime Minister’s intervention earlier in the year on childcare was important – that’s why we need to build more homes so that young people can settle down and have a family life.
‘And there’s a lot of evidence that the lack of housing is one of the reasons people are settling down and having kids later on in life.’
Afterwards he told The Guardian: ‘We want to have a higher birth rate as a country. With an ageing society it is critically important.
‘There are lots of reasons we’re not unique as a country for that. It is across the western world. The things that Government can do is improve childcare, and above all housing, because there’s a massive link between how late people eventually settle down and the ability to have kids.’
Prof Goodwin had told the event: ‘We need to have some immigration … but I do think we need to be able to talk in a more mature fashion about how we might tackle that issue through policy, through changing social norms, through investing in family development, through many of the things that conservatives elsewhere in the world are talking about but we as a country seem incapable of talking about family policy without everybody losing their marbles.
‘I’d like to see a mature conversation about how we could encourage families to have more children and how the state could have a role in that.’
Earlier this year, official figures revealed London is now the only region of the country where the average age is under 40.
The UK’s population is advancing to middle age across all regions except the capital city, census data showed in May.
The number of people aged 65-74 has risen by 20 per cent over the past decade, while those aged 35-49 has fallen by 16.5 per cent, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
At 54, the average median age in North Norfolk is 14 years higher than the national average. The South West, Scotland and Northern Ireland have an average age of 44, while London has an average median age of just 35 – up two years since the 2011 census.
While on average the nation is one year older than it was in 2011, Richmondshire in North Yorkshire has seen the median age rise by six years in that period – from 40 to 46.
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