International migration has seen a decline – registrations for new national insurance numbers have dropped 15 per cent since this time last year. A fall in registrations from the EU accounted for three quarters of the total drop in new registrations.
Latest data available on London’s population are taken from mid-year estimates for 2016. These show that the capital’s population continued to grow, but slightly more slowly than in the two previous years. This recent growth is not evenly spread across the capital, as is shown in Figure 1.
London’s age profile continues to shift. The number of 20-34 year olds fell slightly in the year to mid-2016, while some other age cohorts grew considerably: 70-74 rose by 4.6 per cent, 55-59 by 3.7 per cent, and 10-14 by 3.2 per cent. These are representative of longer-term trends, suggesting that London’s ‘youth bulge’ is starting to narrow.
The biggest contributor to population growth in London was net international migration, adding just over 126,000 individuals during the year. Natural change (births and deaths) added over 80,000, a small year-on-year rise. Net internal migration saw 93,000 people leaving the capital, which was significantly more than a year previously – potentially linked to increasingly high costs of living.
National Insurance Number Registrations
There is a notable drop off in National Insurance number (NINo) registrations by non-UK nationals coming to the UK to work in the first three months over 2017 compared to the same period last year. While NINo registrations have fluctuated over the past decade, this represents this biggest year-on-year decline since Q3 in 2015. A fall in registrations from the EU accounted for three quarters of the total drop. Again, there are some stark differences for NINo registrations at the borough level, even when adjusted for population, as is shown in Figure 2.
“The significant fall in National Insurance number registrations, especially for those coming from elsewhere in the EU, is the first hard data showing that migration for work purposes to the UK is slowing. London will be disproportionately affected, since European workers, at all skill levels, have been hugely important to the growth and dynamism of the London economy over the last two decades.”
Jonathan Portes, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, King’s College, London
Compared to the rest of the UK, registrations per head of population are significantly higher for London, often by a factor of around three. This may result from London’s status as ‘first port of call’ for new arrivals, who may then move beyond the capital. It may also reflect the city’s long history as a haven for migrants and home to many diaspora communities.