London’s population is changing at a rapid pace. But how much do we know about the changing face of the city? Where do new Londoners come from, and where do Londoners who leave the city go to? What are the most popular languages? Which areas are seeing the biggest influx?
To answer these burning questions and more, here’s five maps which paint a picture of the Londoners of today.
London has long been an attractive destination for people from outside the UK to come to, seeking work and opportunity.
They need a national insurance number (NINo) to legally work in this country – and registration data shows how the numbers, and location of these has changed over time.
Total registrations fell 16 per cent in the last year, to just over 58,600, with a divergence in the number of EU and non-EU registrations. Though NINo registrations from the EU increased 11 per cent in the last decade, since 2014 they’ve fallen by 15 per cent. In contrast, whereas non-EU registrations have fallen by 45 per cent in the last decade, the last four years have seen an 11 per cent increase.
While some areas of London have remained a hotspot for new arrivals over this whole period, others have seen their fortunes fade. Outer North and East London boroughs have seen the largest decline in NINo registrations – with the highest falls in Redbridge (-27.6), Harrow (-23.5) and Newham (-22.9). Lambeth and the City fell by only -1.9 and -4.1 respectively, the lowest falls recorded.
With an increasingly foreign-born population residing in the capital, London’s children are more likely than ever to speak English as a second language at home. And the change has been happening faster in some areas of the city than others.
The picture is diverse across the capital. Comparing 2017 to a decade earlier, outer London boroughs show a more significant change in the proportion of primary school students who speak English as a second language, albeit often from a low base.
Though the gap has largely narrowed by the time they reach secondary school, pupils with English as a second language (EAL) often lag behind at primary level. Language needs represent a challenge to primary teaching, particular given that many are facing funding cuts.
A growing population
Population projections – though often wrong – anticipate that London’s population will continue to grow quickly well into the middle of the century.
London’s population is undergoing significant changes, with internal population churn combining with newly arriving residents to create a patchwork of areas with falling, slowly increasing and rapidly growing populations.
Some of the areas with highest forecast growth include along the Thames and Lee Valley in East London – where new developments are set to transform whole districts – as well as other locations across the capital where large developments will house future Londoners. While no borough is forecast to see a fall in its population over the next decade, parts of Bromley, Hillingdon and Barnet are likely to see the slowest growth.
A shifting population
While London welcomes many new arrivals each year; it also bids farewell to those departing. The next map shows where Londoners are moving from, and where they are choosing to move to. While 416,000 Londoners moved across London’s borough boundaries, 336,000 people left the capital in the last year, and only 230,000 people from the rest of their country made their home here.
Undeterred by a 19 per cent squeeze on new starter wages since the financial crisis, university towns, such as Oxford, Cambridge and Exeter, continue to feed a high number of graduates into the capital, as do Birmingham, Brighton and Bristol. The map also shows an outflow of residents from London’s suburbs, with outer East London boroughs such as Dartford and Thurrock faring the worst, with net losses of over 3,000 people.
An ageing population
While London is a young city – and will continue to be so, relative to the rest of the UK – it is growing older; with the number of people aged 65 set to grow to 1.2 million by 2024. This will have big implications for service delivery, particularly healthcare and social care, but also accessibility, with only 27 per cent of London’s tube stations currently step-free.
While all boroughs are ageing (as measured by the change in the old age dependency ratio), those to the North and West show the most significant increases. In Harrow, 15 per cent of residents are aged 65 and over, compared to just 9 per cent in Barking and Dagenham.
Much of London policy is predicated on continued population growth. Yet London’s population grew at just 0.6 per cent in the year to mid-2017, its slowest rate in over a decade, and almost half the growth rate of the year previously.
Expectations of continued growth are reflected in yearly projections, and though the city isn’t yet shrinking, its growth is falling short of forecasts, with most recent figures 0.9 per cent lower than expected.
London’s population is in flux, yet it is far from a city of transients, with 70 per cent of Londoners living here for at least a decade, and London identity as strong as it was 40 years ago.