White and ethnic minority communities in some of Britain’s biggest cities are becoming increasingly segregated as a result of rising immigration, a report will say this week.
An increasingly mobile population means that white families are moving from Birmingham, Manchester and Bradford to be replaced by immigrants from Asia. The population of Pakistani origin in those cities has risen by between 45.8% and 52.8% in a decade.
The study, by the Migrationwatch think tank, is based on the official census figures for 1991 and 2001. Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, said: “A major factor is the high rate of marriage to partners on the Indian subcontinent, which we estimate at 50-70%.
“This substantially increases the rate of household formation and certainly, in the first generation, the size of families.”
The report follows a study which showed that in the same period about 606,000 more people moved from London than arrived from elsewhere in the country while there was a net inflow of 726,000 immigrants to the capital.
The study comes as Labour plays down claims that Tony Blair has discussed immigration with party strategists amid signs that voters’ fears on the issue are damaging the government’s re-election prospects.
Charles Clarke, the home secretary, announced in February that the government would try to end “chain migration” under which migrants come to Britain to join spouses or other relatives.
Under the government’s five-year immigration plan—a key element in Labour’s manifesto published this week—ministers want a delay of five years before those who have settled in Britain to reunite families can themselves sponsor the arrival of further relatives.
According to Migrationwatch, the areas showing the greatest absolute decline in white population were Manchester (a drop of 36,227 from a 1991 white population of 359,000), Birmingham (a drop of 67,161 from 766,000) and Bradford (a drop of 23,105 from 392,000).
Birmingham has seen a rise in its ethnic population of 62,440 over the period between the two census studies, Bradford an increase of 24,160 and Manchester a rise of 16,168.
“A comparison of the 1991 and 2001 censuses shows that there is clear evidence of a link between the proportion of ethnic minorities in a particular area and the rate at which the white population has declined,” says Migrationwatch.
The report confirms a trend identified in a report from the London School of Economics last year. It found that in inner-city areas ethnic minorities were becoming isolated because the white population was moving out. However, the LSE academics concluded that in the country as a whole the spread of ethnic minorities to almost every local council area had led to greater integration.
The new Migrationwatch report says the ethnic mix of big cities is rapidly changing and that the significance of these changes was summed up by a government report last July.
“There are concerns about the speed at which newcomers can be accommodated,” said the government report. “The identity of the host community will be challenged and (people) need sufficient time to come to terms with and accommodate incoming groups, regardless of their ethnic origin.”