Foreign-born population of England and Wales likely to exceed one in seven people

·3-min read
2021 census
2021 census

The foreign-born population of England and Wales is expected to exceed one in seven people for the first time, a Telegraph analysis of official statistics has suggested.

Ahead of Wednesday’s publication of the Census 2021 for England and Wales, analysis showed that in mid-2021 an estimated 8.9 million people living in England and Wales were born outside the UK.

This equates to around 15.2 per cent of the total population. In 2011, this figure was just 7.5 million, or 13.4 per cent of the population, according to figures published over the past decade by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The change would mean there are now about 1.5 million more foreign-born residents compared with 2011.

However, the increase would be a marked decline proportionately when compared with the changes seen in the 2000s.

Between 2001 and 2011, the foreign-born population increased by 62 per cent, compared with an estimated 20 per cent over the past 10 years.

Indians retain top spot

The census data is also expected to show that India is likely to retain its spot for having the highest number of non-UK born residents living in England and Wales - with the population increasing from 682,274 in 2011 to 852,000 in 2021.

Polish foreign-born residents could also remain in second place, despite a slow-down in migration following their country’s accession to the European Union in the 2000s.

However, Romanians could enter the top five foreign-born nationals for the first time. The ONS estimated that in mid-2021, there were 313,000 in England - up from just 78,192 in 2011. The rise is fuelled by the removal of travel restrictions in 2013 to allow Romanians to freely work and live in the UK.

Romania would effectively push Germany out of the top five, which held the position in the last census.

This would mean that the top five foreign-born populations for England in the 2021 census would be India, Poland, Pakistan, the Republic of Ireland and Romania.

Decline in Irish and Pakistani-born populations

In contrast, the number of English nationals born in Pakistan and the Republic of Ireland has fallen over the same period between 2011 and 2021. Those hailing from Pakistan totalled 476,684 in 2011, but this number fell to 434,000 in 2021.

The number of people from the Republic of Ireland also decreased over the same decade, from 476,684 to 434,000.

Previous censuses have shown large increases for some main non-UK born migrant groups in particular decades. The Indian-born population almost doubled between 1961 and 1971, and the Bangladeshi-born population more than doubled between 1981 and 1991.

Furthermore, for each of the top five non-UK countries of birth in 2011 - India, Poland, Pakistan, Republic of Ireland and Germany - migration to the UK in substantial numbers began at different times.

In 2011, 38 per cent of Irish-born residents arrived before 1961, compared with the 86 per cent of Polish-born residents who arrived in 2004 or later.

The Irish-born community is likely to see a continued decline in its prominence in England and Wales.

In 2001, they represented the largest foreign-born community with more than 470,000 residents. Latest estimates from the ONS have suggested this will decline to around 344,000 as the original waves pass on, survived by second or third generation immigrants.

The ONS said that “the census provides the best picture of society at a moment in time every 10 years”. It will publish its results for the 2021 census at 9.30am on Wednesday.