- London, West Midlands, South East and East of England most affected by immigration-driven population growth of eight million
- Ethnic minority share of England and Wales more than doubles from 12% to 26%
- Birmingham and Manchester join London to become minority white British cities
- Some local authorities have ethnic minority shares of more than 80%
Summary: In the last 20 years the population of England and Wales has increased by around eight million entirely as a result of immigration. This has meant huge population shifts and churn in different areas of the UK but particularly in London, the South East and East of England, and the West and East Midlands. As a result, the white British are now a minority in London, Birmingham and Manchester.
1. The Census statistics for 2021 show that the total ethnic minority population in England and Wales has risen by eight million in twenty years. It stands at nearly 15 million (nearly tripling from 5.7 million in 2001) and has more than doubled from 12% of the population to 26% since 2001.
2. The overall population of England and Wales rose by around eight million since 2001 – rising from 52 million to nearly 60 million in 2021. However, although there was a plateauing of the White British and Irish populations, the rise in the ethnic minority population accounted for nearly all of net population growth (increasing by a total of 8.4 million).
3. Since 2001, the UK has 3.2 million more people of Asian background, 2.4 million more from White Other backgrounds, 1.3 million more from Black backgrounds, a million more from mixed race backgrounds, and half a million more from other ethnic backgrounds. Meanwhile, the white British population has essentially plateaued over that period at around 44 to 45 million.
4. It is not surprising that immigration has driven population growth as every year between 600,000 and a million migrants come here long-term while about 300,000 to 500,000 leave. The resulting overall net migration total of a quarter of a million more means huge demographic shifts, especially in major cities and areas adjacent to them – such as the East of England and south-eastern suburbs of London and Birmingham and its surrounding environs.
5. A comparison with ONS figures released for 2016 show a remarkable change in the population makeup in the top 5 five cities in England and Wales in just five years, with the white British population in the five major cities in England and Wales declining by a total of 800,000 since that year, with the bulk of this shift being from London and the next largest drop in Birmingham (90,000). Two of the top three cities (Birmingham and Manchester) have become minority White British.
Figure 1: Decline in numerical totals / shares of white British population in top 5 cities, England / Wales.