RUNCORN AND WIDNES saw the fewest births last year in a decade, as the birth rate in England and Wales dropped to its lowest rate in over 20 years. 

New data from the ONS shows a continuing trend of fewer people giving birth – with England and Wales seeing the lowest number registered of any year since at least 2002.

The figures show there were 1,193 live births in Halton in 2022 – a fall from 1,355 the year before, and the fewest of any year since at least 2013.

At the other end of the scale, 2013 saw the highest number of births in the area, with 1,597 over the course of the year.

Commenting on the figures, James Tucker, the ONS’ head of health analysis, said: "The annual number of births in England and Wales continues its recent decline, with 2022 recording the lowest number of live births seen for two decades."

The ONS' analysis shows births hit a recent peak in 2012, with the number declining over the following decade. The coronavirus pandemic does not appear to have altered birth rates significantly in either direction.

Mr Tucker added: "Almost a third of all those births were to non-UK born women. This is the highest proportion of live births to non-UK born women seen since our records began, with India now the most common country of birth for non-UK born parents."

Separate figures from the organisation show the number of births to mothers born outside of the UK increased slightly for the first time in five years.

In Halton, 131 births were to non-UK born women, accounting for 11% of births in the area.

This was up from the year before when the rate was 8.3%.

Last year saw a shake-up in the countries of birth of parents in England and Wales. India overtook Romania as the most common country of birth for non-UK born mothers – and replaced Pakistan for non-UK born fathers.

Nuni Jorgensen, researcher at the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: “The number of children born to non-UK-born mothers has remained pretty stable over the last few years, but the number of births to UK-born women has been falling very rapidly.

"This inevitably means that the share of births to non-UK-born women goes up."