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UK population 500,000 more than thought

Tuesday 17th July 2012

Here, Douglas McWilliams, Chief Executive, Centre for Economics and Business Research, considers the latest UK population statistics...

It was once said that in the UK the statistics are such that the past is even more uncertain than the future.

As if to confirm this, the results of last year's census show that England and Wales in 2011 had a population 476,000 higher than had been predicted. This is in sharp contrast to the 2001 census which was widely accused of underestimating the population.

According to a statistical paper released by ONS,  the under-recording reflects a 209,000 underestimate of those in the country in 2001 and 267,000 additional immigrants since 2001.

The census confirms the changing picture of East London, as 10 out of the 20 local authorities with population growth of over 15% in the past decade are in East London. London's population as a whole grew by an astonishing 11.3% over the period.

The bulk of the population growth for the UK as a whole was in London and the South East which together grew by 1.5 million out of the 3.2 million growth for the whole of England.

The new data will affect local authority funding and the Barnett formula, since both are partly based on shares of  the UK's population.

It will also affect EU Objective 1 funding which is based on GDP per capita. This new data may well mean that areas like Liverpool's eligibility are affected as the higher population reduces estimated GDP per capita. When the last Census came out Cebr was able to help clients challenge EU criteria for funding.

Companies will also want to revisit their marketing databases, since the new data shows there are more women and young people than had previously been projected.

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