Britain’s population rose almost 7 percent over a decade, data from the 2011 census show. It’s the largest increase recorded over 10 years since 1961.
The number of people in the U.K. grew by 4.1 million to 63.2 million as of March 27 last year, the Office for National Statistics in London said in its first population estimate from the census, the latest in a 10-yearly series dating to 1801.
The increase reflects in part immigration from other European countries, particularly Poland, though there’s also been a rise in the number of births. Census data released last week by the ONS showed the proportion of people identifying themselves as white British in England and Wales declined to 80.5 percent from 87.5 percent over the decade. In London, it dropped to 45 percent.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative-led government has been pressing ahead with moves to cut immigration, including clamping down on the abuse of student visas by those seeking to travel to Britain to work. Home Secretary Theresa May said last week that with annual net migration still at 183,000, there was still some way to go to achieve her goal of reducing that to less than 100,000 by 2015.
May argued in a speech on Dec. 12 that uncontrolled mass immigration is pushing up house prices, putting downward pressure on wages and making it harder to create a cohesive society. The opposition Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, spoke two days later of the need for a “comprehensive strategy for integration” to respond to voters’ concerns about immigration.
Today’s data showed the largest percentage increases in population were seen in the east London boroughs of Tower Hamlets -- up 26.4 percent -- and Newham, where there was a rise of 23.5 percent.