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Census results reveal more about the way we live and work in England & Wales

Released: 30 January 2013 Download PDF

The latest statistics from the 2011 Census, published today, provide a new level of geographical detail about the characteristics of the population of England and Wales.

The ONS (Office for National Statistics) is now giving the geographical detail for what are known as 'output areas', as well as for wards, parishes and Westminster parliamentary constituencies. These relate to the figures issued in December 2012, which gave the results for local authority level.

More than 100 tables are released today, and some previously published topics are now expanded with further information. These include:

Languages:  details of the population’s proficiency in English, and the languages most used in England and Wales.

Students: details of their economic activity.

The accompanying Statistical Bulletin for Release 2.2 discusses the main data topics. Some of the headline findings are:


The 2011 Census was the first to ask how well the population could speak English when this was not their main language.

English was the main language for 92 per cent (50 million) of residents aged 3 and over. (For residents in Wales their main language could be either English or Welsh.)  The remaining 8 per cent (4 million) had a different main language, but most were proficient in speaking English.

Of the 4 million residents aged 3 and over with a main language other than English, 1.7 million could speak English very well, 1.6 million could speak English well, and 726,000 could speak English but not well. The remaining 138,000 could not speak English at all.

The census reveals that there were 49 languages used as a main language (by groups of more than 15,000 people). The top 20 included 5 South Asian languages and 9 European. Of the top 5 languages 3 were South Asian.

Not all languages are spoken. A small number of people (22,000) used sign language, 15,000 of whom used British sign language.

Other language highlights are:

  • The second most reported main language was Polish (1 per cent, 546,000).

  • 22 per cent (1.7 million) of London residents used a main language other than English.

  • 97 per cent (2.9 million) of residents in Wales reported English or Welsh as their main language.

  • Nearly one fifth (19 per cent, 562,000) of residents aged 3 and over in Wales reported that they could speak Welsh.

  •  Top 10 languages: English; Polish; Panjabi; Urdu; Bengali; Gujarati; Arabic; French; Chinese (excluding Mandarin and Cantonese); Portuguese.

  •  Looking at households rather than numbers of people, 91 per cent had English as a main language used by all household members (21 million households).

  •  4 per cent of households (1 million) had no residents with English as a main language, but most had some proficiency in English.

  •  138,000 people could not speak English (less than 0.5 per cent of all residents).

Composition of families and households

  • In 2011, 47 per cent (21 million) of the adult population of England and Wales were married; this was a decrease from 51 per cent (21 million) in 2001

  • The total number of households in 2011 was 23.4 million, an increase of 8 per cent from almost 22 million in 2001. In 2011 there were 14.4 million one-family households, 7.1 million one-person households and 1.9 million 'other households'.

  • The largest percentage increase was for 'other households' (including  households of unrelated adults or more than oen family), which rose 28 per cent between 2001 and 2011.

  • One-person households aged 65 and over have decreased by 2.8 percentage points as a proportion of all households; those aged 16 - 34 declined by 2.5 percentage points; however those aged 35-64 increased by 6 percentage points

Method of travel to work

  • In 2011 the majority of 16-to-74-year-olds in England & Wales drove a car or van to work (58 per cent, 15 million). A further 5 per cent (1.4 million) travelled to work as a passenger in a car or van.

  • The second most reported method of travel to work was by foot (11 per cent, 2.8 million). The third was travel by bus, minibus or coach (7 per cent, 1.9 million).

  • In London, 50 per cent (2.0 million) of the population used public transport to get to work, compared with 31 per cent (1.3 million) travelling by car, motorcycle or taxi.

  • Outside London, the percentage of workers mainly using public transport ranged from 6 per cent (162,000) in the South West to 13 per cent (151,000) in the North East. The percentage using cars, motorcycles or taxis ranging from 67 per cent (2.8 million) in the South East to 75 per cent (1.0 million) in Wales.

For more information contact:

Emma White
Tel: 01329  444 972

How to find these tables    

These 2011 tables (and their 2001 equivalents, where available) are published here.

Enter the geographical area of interest - eg a postcode or local authority name, then -

  1. Select the level of output desired - eg local authority, or ward, etc, and -

  2. Press search

  3. Alternatively you can select the Topics tables from the neighbourhood statistics website

See general assistance on using this website.

 Additional analyses

More detailed analyses of some data topics, known as ‘short stories’ are available on the ONS website. Highlights from these are listed below.

General health

Some key points

  • In 2011, 81 per cent of people in England and Wales reported their general health as either ‘Very good’ or ‘Good’; in England it was 81 per cent and in Wales it was 79 per cent

  • People living in London and the South East region had the highest percentages of ‘Very good’ or ‘Good’ general health, and those in Wales and the North East region the lowest.

  • In England and Wales, there was a gap of 15 percentage points between the local authority reporting the highest percentages of ‘Very good’ and ‘Good’ general health (Hart, 88 per cent)  and the lowest (Blaenau Gwent, 73 per cent).

  • The 2001 Census’s general pattern of better health in London and the South East region, and worse health in the Northern regions, is maintained in 2011.

Contact: Chris White. Tel: 01633 455 865  Email:


Some key points

  • More than 10 million people reported their daily activities in 2011 were limited.

  • The North East region had the highest percentage of activity-limited people (22 per cent) and London the lowest (14 per cent).

  • The London borough of Wandsworth had the lowest percentage of activity limitations (11 per cent), and Neath and Port Talbot in Wales the highest (28 per cent ).

  • The 10 English local authorities with the lowest percentage of activity limiting health problems or disabilities were located exclusively in London and the South East.

Contact: Chris White. Tel: 01633 455 865    Email:

Composition of families and households

See details in the earlier section of this release.

Contact: Chris W Smith. Tel: 01329 444 683    Email:

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 statistics refer to that day.

  2. 2011 and 2001 Census data are available on the Neighbourhood Statistics website.  Relevant table numbers are provided in the Release 2.2 Bulletin, published 30 January 2013

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. The regions referred to conform to standard statistical regions.

  6. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email.

  7. The next release of census data is scheduled for 19 February 2013, when Key and Quick Statistics will be published for the remaining geographies such as National Parks. 
    Further information about each of the existing and planned census outputs is available in the online prospectus.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. For further information:

    Media Line:  01329 447654


  11. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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