Here are five maps showing how London’s population is changing

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 are five maps which paint a picture of the Londoners of today.

Foreign arrivals

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.

 

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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 percentage declines 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.

London’s languages

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 commuter boroughs to the east of London 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.

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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.

Erica Belcher is research assistant at Centre for London, on whose blog this article first appeared. You can follow her on Twitter, if you wish.

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Community-powered policies should be at the top of Westminster’s to do list

A generic election picture. Image: Getty.

Over the past five decades, political and economic power has become increasingly concentrated in the UK’s capital. Communities feel ignored or alienated by a politics that feels distant and unrepresentative of their daily experiences.

Since the EU referendum result it has become something of a cliché to talk about how to respond to the sense of powerlessness felt by too many people. The foundations of our economy have been shifted by Brexit, technology and deindustrialisation – and these have shone a light on a growing divergence in views and values across geographies and generations. They are both a symptom and cause of the breakdown of the ties that traditionally brought people together.

As the country goes through seismic changes in its outlook, politics and economy, it is clear that a new way of doing politics is needed. Empowering people to take control over the things that affect their daily lives cannot be done from the top down.

Last week, the Co-operative Party launched our policy platform for the General Election – the ideas and priorities we hope to see at the top of the next Parliament’s to do list. We have been the voice for co-operative values and principles in the places where decisions are made and laws are made. As co-operators, we believe that the principles that lie behind successful co‑operatives – democratic control by customers and workers, and a fair share of the wealth we create together – ought to extend to the wider economy and our society. As Labour’s sister party, we campaign for a government that puts these shared values into practice.

Our policy platform has community power at its heart, because the co-operative movement, founded on shop floors and factory production lines, knows that power should flow from the bottom up. Today, this principle holds strong – decisions are best made by the people impacted the most by them, and services work best when the service users have a voice. Our policy platform is clear: this means shifting power from Whitehall to local government, but it also means looking beyond the town hall. Co-operative approaches are about placing power directly in the hands of people and communities.


There are many great examples of Co-operative councillors and local communities taking the lead on this. Co-operative councils like Oldham and Plymouth have pioneered new working relationships with residents, underpinned by a genuine commitment to working with communities rather than merely doing things to them.

Building a fairer future is, by definition, a bottom-up endeavour. Oldham, Plymouth and examples like the Elephant Project in Greater Manchester, where people with experience of disadvantage are involved in decision-making, or buses in Witney run by Co-operative councillors and the local community – are the building blocks of creating a better politics and a fairer economy.

This thread runs through our work over the last few years on community wealth building too – keeping wealth circulating in local economies through growing the local co-operative sector. Worker-owned businesses thriving at the expense of global corporate giants and private outsourcers. Assets owned by communities – from pubs to post offices to rooftop solar panels.

And it runs through our work in Westminster too – with Co-operative MPs and peers calling for parents, not private business, to own and run nurseries; for the stewards of our countryside to be farmers rather than big landowners; and for workers to have a stake in their workplaces and a share of the profit.

Far from being ignored, as suggested in last week’s article on community power, our work has never been more relevant and our co-operative voice is louder than ever.

Anna Birley is policy offer at the Co-operative party.