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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 19:47 GMT
Ethnic groups growing - census
Two areas of Britain have more black people and Asians than white people for the first time ever, newly-released results of the 2001 census for England and Wales have revealed.

White people made up 39.4% of the population in Newham, east London, and 45.3% in Brent, north west London, according to the latest figures of the 200m survey.

And across England and Wales, the proportion of the population from ethnic minorities rose from about 6% in 1991 to about 9% in 2001.

Open in new window : Census 2001
The numbers at-a-glance

But it also shows that 91% questioned are white - a statistic which the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) said should dispel myths about the size of the ethnic minority population in the UK.

What do we look like? How do we live?
Beverley Bernard, of the CRE, said, "This data not only helps us substitute myths with facts, it also provides a benchmark from which to accurately assess the impact of measures to improve race relations."

The census - the first to ask about religion - also found England and Wales now has a Muslim population of more than 1.5m, making it the largest faith after Christianity.

The latest tranche of statistics from the survey of trends in the nation also showed major shifts in the way we live.

There are now more single parents and nearly a third of the population live in single households.

One in 10 people act as carers for the elderly or sick or five million people, according to the census which for the first time asked about unpaid care.

'Continuation of trends'

And one in five of those carers spend 50 or more hours a week caring.

Results for Scotland are being published separately. Northern Ireland's data was revealed earlier this year.

Len Cook, registrar general of England and Wales, told BBC News Online it was not surprising England now had its first majority non-white areas.

The growing elderly population is migrating to the countryside
More housholds have two or more cars
Many more people living alone
Bigger ethnic minorities
More people with degrees
"These are young populations which have a higher than average birth rate", he said.

For those communities who emigrated to Britain it was natural to go to areas where other people from these communities already lived, he added.

"It is really just a continuation of past trends."

Much of the growth in the ethnic minority population was in African, Bangledishi and Pakistani communities.

More than 80% of people in England and Wales described themselves as White British.

Voluntary question

The question on religion was voluntary in the 2001 census.

It found 71.7% of people in England and Wales described themselves as Christian.

Yoda, Jedi Master
About 390,000 people gave their faith as 'Jedi'
Ahmed Versi, of the Muslim News, said the fact the question was not obligatory may account for the smaller than expected figures for the number of Muslims.

Mr Versi told BBC News Online he believed the figure should be closer to 1.6-1.9m.

"It shows Muslims are still the largest faith community after Christianity," he said.

The figures also reveal that 390,000 consider themselves as followers of the Jedi "faith" - the religion in the Star Wars films.

Collators decided to accept the term after an e-mail campaign which urged sci-fi fans to declare themselves as Jedi Knights on the census.

Singletons rise

Meanwhile the census revealed the make-up of single and married households.

The number of people living on their own rose from 26% in 1991 to 30% in 2001.

The place with the highest amount of people living on their own was London with 35%.

And the number of married couples showed a significant decline, making up 50.7% of the adult population, compared with 68% in 1971.

Those who were divorced went up from 1.3% in 1971 to 6.2% in 1991, rising further to 8.23% in 2001.

Lone parents also rose, with 10% of households lived in by either a mother or father.

Poor health

The survey also revealed health statistics.

A total of 18.2% regarded themselves as having a limiting long term illness.

But the hot spots were former coal mining areas, such as South Wales, county Durham and parts of Yorkshire.
Easington, in county Durham, had the worst level of reported long term illness at 30.8% followed by Merthyr Tydfil on 30%.

Participants in England were asked 40 questions - 41 in Wales - on April 2001.

Profiles for each of the 376 local council areas in England and Wales are also being published.

The Office of National Statistics used a new technique creating a million fictional households to account for homes missed by the forms.

The census will help planners decide where to invest in new services such as schools or doctor's surgeries.

  • The full national picture from the census will be published on Friday.
    The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
    "The make up of a place like Newham shows just how much Britain is changing"

    Key stories


    UK breakdown


    See also:

    13 Feb 03 | UK
    13 Feb 03 | UK
    13 Feb 03 | Scotland
    10 Mar 01 | Entertainment
    09 Oct 01 | UK
    30 Sep 02 | England
    13 Feb 03 | Wales
    24 Oct 00 | Wales
    19 Dec 02 | N Ireland
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