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Numbers game

Crowds
several hundred thousand are added to the UK population every year
How many people live in the UK? We don't really know precisely.

The last time a national census was held to count the population was in 2001 - and there isn't another one until 2011.

Meanwhile, with fertility and life expectancy rising and with large scale immigration to the UK statisticians estimate that the population has been growing by several hundred thousand a year.

But the latest statistics are only estimates, based on samples rather than a population head count.

Cue howls of complaint from many local councils who say they're expected to provide services for more and more people on government grants which are based on out-of-date statistics.

So do we need a better way of counting people in Britain?

The Parliamentary Treasury committee has been investigating and is due to report soon.

Leala Padmanabhan has been carrying out her own inquiry.

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Listen to Leala Padmanabhan's report



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