Immigrant baby boom could help South Holland

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AN IMMIGRANT baby boom in South Holland could help Britain move from having one of the most ageing populations in Europe to one of the least.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the arrival of young workers from Eastern Europe has helped slow the relative rate at which the population has aged.

Britain is now projected to go from having the second highest proportion of retired people in Europe to the fifth lowest.

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) state between 2004 and March 2010 more than 1.4 million Eastern Europeans came to work in the UK. In the last decade, the number of births has risen by 22 per cent, with one in four new babies last year born to foreign-born mothers.

Figures for 2009 show more than 21 per cent of the 889 live births in South Holland were to mothers born outside the UK. This is a rise from 12.9 per cent in 2006.

South Holland’s total population is estimated to be around 87,000 and is predicted to rise to 101,000 by 2020. It is thought there are 5,000 migrants in the district, although official figures will not be known until new Census data is announced in September.

In the 2001 Census, 97.2 per cent of the district’s population were white British, with a high percentage of persons aged over 60.

However, ONS figures did not capture the inward migration from Europe. The 2006 report “Dynamics of Migrant Labour in South Lincolnshire” states 53 per cent of migrant workers want to stay in the UK permanently and raise their families here.

A spokesman for United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust said they continue to monitor the birth rate in the county and any changes that might be brought about by an increase in babies from foreign-born mothers.

Elizabeth Grooby, matron for maternity and gynaecology services, said: “We assess our need for midwives every year according to the birth rate.

“In the last two years our statistics have not indicated an increase in the birth rate at Pilgrim Hospital in Boston. This is something that we will continue to monitor.”

A spokesman for Lincolnshire County Council said: “The population of South Holland is projected to increase, and projected to age, despite any influence of births to migrant workers and their families. The proportion of births to non-UK origin mothers have increased over time, but total births are up and down.”