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Census gives insights into characteristics of the South East’s population

Released: 11 December 2012 Download PDF

Statistics published today from the 2011 Census reveal the changing characteristics of the population in every region of England and Wales and the 348 local authorities that form them. These statistics cover topics such as ethnicity, religion, country of birth, health, accommodation, tenure, and availability of cars and vans. Further details are given in the Statistical Bulletin and accompanying tables.

This release supplements the figures published in July 2012, which put the total population of England and  Wales on census day (27 March 2011) at 56.1 million – an increase of 3.7 million (7 per cent) since 2001.

There were 8.6 million residents in the South East. This is an increase of some 611,000 (8 per cent) since 2001, and represents 15 per cent of the population of England and Wales.

The median age of the region was 40, 1 year higher than the England and Wales average. Within the region this ranged from 29 in Oxford (joint fourth in England and Wales, with Manchester) to 50 in Rother (third highest in England and Wales).

Guy Goodwin, ONS’s Director of Census said:

“These statistics paint a picture of society and help us all plan for the future using accurate information at a local level.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg of census statistics. Further rich layers of vital information will be revealed as we publish more detailed data for very local levels over the coming months.”

Some headline facts of life in the South East are that:

Country of birth and passports

Top 15 countries of birth

South East, 2011, All usual residents

Rank Country of birth Thousands Per cent
1 England 7,326 84.8
2 Scotland 135 1.6
3 Wales 95 1.1
4 India 87 1.0
5 Poland 81 0.9
6 Ireland 59 0.7
7 Germany 53 0.6
8 South Africa 50 0.6
9 Pakistan 45 0.5
10 Northern Ireland 35 0.4
11 United States 32 0.4
12 Zimbabwe 25 0.3
13 France 23 0.3
14 Philippines 22 0.3
15 Hong Kong 21 0.2
  Total population 8,635  

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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In 2011 there were 1 million foreign-born residents in the South East, 12 per cent of the resident population. Slough and Oxford had the highest proportion of foreign-born residents, with 39 per cent and 29 per cent respectively.

Approximately half of the foreign-born residents in Slough were born in Asia; 9 per cent were born in Pakistan - the highest proportion in England and Wales.

The local authority with the highest proportion of people with a UK passport in England and Wales was Hart (86 per cent).


Top 5 religions

South East, 2011, All usual residents

Rank Religion Thousands Per cent
1 Christian 5,160 59.8
2 Muslim (Islam) 202 2.3
3 Hindu 92 1.1
4 Sikh 55 0.6
5 Buddhist 44 0.5
  Total population 8,635  

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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There was a decrease of 13 percentage points in the proportion of people in the South East who stated their religious affiliation as ‘Christian’. In 2011, 60 per cent of residents in this region stated they were Christian.

Rushmoor had the largest proportion of Buddhists of all local authorities in England and Wales (3 per cent).

Slough had the largest Sikh representation (11 per cent) of all local authorities in England and Wales.


Top 10 ethnic groups

South East, 2011, All usual residents

Rank Ethnic group Thousands Per cent
1 White: English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British 7,359 85.2
2 White: Other White 381 4.4
3 Asian/Asian British: Indian 152 1.8
4 Asian/Asian British: Other Asian 120 1.4
5 Asian/Asian British: Pakistani 99 1.1
6 Black/African/Caribbean/Black British: African 87 1.0
7 White: Irish 74 0.9
8 Mixed/multiple ethnic group: White and Asian 59 0.7
9 Asian/Asian British: Chinese 53 0.6
10 Mixed/multiple ethnic group: White and Black Caribbean 46 0.5
  Total population 8,635  

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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The South East had 91 per cent of the population declaring their ethnicity as ‘White’.

The South East has the highest proportion of ‘White:Gypsy/Irish Traveller’ although the number is relatively small (0.2 per cent, 15,000). Maidstone, Swale, Ashford and South Bucks are in the top 10 highest local authorities in England and Wales for people declaring  as ‘White: Gypsy/Irish Traveller (between 0.4 and 0.5 per cent).

Slough had the lowest ‘White: English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British’ population (35 per cent) in England and Wales, outside of London and the highest ‘Asian/Asian British’ population at 40 per cent.

Slough is ranked second highest of all local authorities in England and Wales for people who declared their ethnicity as ‘Pakistani’ (18 per cent). and seventh highest for ‘Indian’ (16 per cent).

Health and provision of unpaid care

The South East had 16 per cent of people whose day to day activities were limited by a long term health problem or disability (compared with 18 per cent for England and Wales as a whole). This region had 10 per cent its people providing unpaid care for someone with a disability or illness (the same percentage as for England and Wales as a whole).

The South East had the highest proportion of residents outside London providing no unpaid care (90 per cent).


In the South East 19 per cent of people aged 16 and over had no recognised qualification. This is 11 percentage points lower than the proportion with a qualification of degree level or above, and makes the South East the region with the lowest proportion (18 per cent) outside London. 

Wokingham was proportionally ranked ninth lowest of all local authorities in England and Wales for usual residents aged 16 and over with no recognised qualification (13 per cent).


In 2011, the total number of households was highest in the South East and the region had the highest proportion of mortgaged homes (35 per cent). Four of the top five local authorities in England and Wales with the highest proportion of houses owned with a mortgage or loan were in the South East: Wokingham, Bracknell Forest, Hart and Surrey Heath. The highest proportion was in Wokingham with 44 per cent.

The highest proportion of shared ownership of all local authorities in England and Wales was in Milton Keynes (6 per cent).

Car or van availability

The South East had the highest proportion of households with two or more cars or vans (40 per cent), and also the highest total increase in cars and vans available for use by households – up by more than half a million.

For further information:

Media Line:  01329 447654  


Visit: for more detailed analysis and information


Data visualisation: 

Use this link to access interactive maps on topics such as Religion, Car ownership, Ethnicity, Dwelling type, Tenure, Year of arrival and Health. They can be embedded/used in websites using the code supplied in the maps. The maps can 'deeplink' into specific views of the data (ie a specific area and/or variable selection). Some maps are split screen, allowing graphical comparisons of 2001 with 2011 changes.

Background notes

  1. The census provides the most accurate estimate possible for the population of England and Wales and has been carried out every 10 years since 1801, apart from 1941, by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The information provided to ONS is used solely for the census, is anonymised and protected for 100 years. Census day was on 27 March 2011. All census population numbers refer to that day.
  2. Government uses the census statistics to allocate funding for services such as education, transport and health. Policy makers in central and local government use the census to identify the needs of different communities and they are also used by commercial enterprises. It also provides the benchmark for future population estimates and for sample surveys.
  3. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the National Statistics Code of Practice. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.
  4. The regions referred to conform to standard statistical regions. It is not possible to compare data for some geographies between 2011 and 2001 because of local authority reorganisation in this period.
  5. The next release of census data is scheduled for 30 January 2013.This will give Key and Quick Statistics tables at output area, wards parish and parliamentary constituency geographies. These will be accompanied by a statistical bulletin and census analysis. By the end of February 2013 Key and Quick Statistics for the remaining geographies such as National Parks will be published. Further information about each of the existing and planned census outputs is available via an online prospectus as:
  6. Census results are set out in tables under Key statistics and Quick statistics. Key statistics provide summary figures that cover the full range of results from the census. They are presented in a tabular format, with figures as both numbers and percentages, to allow comparison across different areas. Quick statistics contain data which refer to one variable and its response categories from a census question. Because of this, cross-tabulation is not possible at this stage.
  7. The main population base for outputs from the 2011 Census is the usual resident population as at census day 27 March 2011. A ‘usual resident’ of the UK is anyone who, on census day, was in the UK and had stayed or intended to stay in the UK for a period of 12 months or more, or had a permanent UK address and was outside the UK and intended to be outside the UK for less than 12 months.
  8. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

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