THE face of Britain has “changed forever” after mass immigration fuelled a 40 per cent increase in the nation’s ethnic minority population.
The huge rise over just eight years means more than nine million people in England and Wales–equivalent to one in six of the population–are now from a “non-white” background. The figures from the Office for National Statistics will add to criticism of Labour’s flawed immigration policies.
Sir Andrew Green, of lobby group MigrationWatch UK, said: “This rise is part of Labour’s legacy. Whether they meant to or not, they changed the face of Britain forever.
“And if immigration continues at this rate our population will hit 70 million within 20 years and immigrants will account for half of new households. We are already feeling the pressures on maternity units and schools.”
The ONS figures show that the number of people from an ethnic minority living in Britain rose from 6.6 million in 2001 to 9.1 million in 2009 due to a rise in immigration and birth rates.
In contrast, the number of white Britons has remained static over the same period.
The largest ethnic groups in the country are Indians, who account for more than 1.4 million people living here, and Pakistanis, who represent a further one million residents.
The statisticians say the rise in the UK’s Indian population, which is 380,000 up on 2001, is “primarily due” to international migration, while high birth rates are a key factor behind the combined 390,000 growth in the Pakistani and Bangladeshi populations.
Among the sharpest increases was the Chinese ethnic group, whose numbers have increased by 8.6 per cent a year to 450,000.
The number of black Africans has also rocketed since 2001, up by 300,000 or 6.2 per cent a year. This is largely attributed to people seeking asylum from Zimbabwe, Somalia, Eritrea and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The biggest increase over the period–a total of 553,000 people–is among the “other white” group which includes people from Eastern Europe, as well as citizens of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
Tory MP Stewart Jackson said: “The data reflects the consequences of Labour’s ‘open-door’ immigration policy.
“Unchecked immigration has the potential to upset community cohesion and puts terrific pressure on the public purse.”
His point was echoed by Helen Barnard, of social affairs charity Joseph Rowntree Foundation. She pointed out that ethnic minorities often lived in poverty and relied on benefits to pull them back from the breadline. She said: “The statistics highlight the need to ensure the disproportionate number of ethnic minorities living in poverty is not allowed to grow even further.”
Across England, Leicester has the highest proportion of Asian Indians at 19 per cent, Bradford is next with 13 per cent of Asian Pakistani people, and 21 per cent of the residents of Tower Hamlets in London are Asian Bangladeshi.
The highest proportion of black Caribbean people are found in Lewisham, south-east London, followed by Birmingham. MigrationWatch UK claims that British whites will become a minority in Leicester, Birmingham, Bradford and Oldham “perhaps by 2016”.
The campaign group estimates that three million immigrants have arrived in Britain since 1997.
The number of people from minority backgrounds who live in England and Wales went up by 2.5million in eight years, figures revealed yesterday.
Estimates said that 1.75million of the rise came about because of immigration, while 734,000 was the result of rising birthrates.
The increases meant the minority population increased by 37 per cent between 2001 and 2009.
According to the Office for National Statistics, one in six of the population is now from an ethnic minority or white non-British background.
In the eight year period studied, the population of white foreigners rose by 550,000 as Eastern Europeans and migrants from Commonwealth countries poured in.
Numbers grew by a further two million with people from black and Asian backgrounds thanks to immigration, rising birthrates, and asylum seeking.
The ONS said its figures, based on immigration counts, census data and birth and death records, had been found to tally with its existing population estimates.
The figures cast new light on the last Labour government’s immigration policies, which added three million to the population between 1997 and last year.
Sir Andrew Green of Migrationwatch said: ‘This is the legacy of Labour’s mass immigration policy now appearing in the official figures. They have, whether deliberately or not, changed the face of Britain.
‘If immigration continues on anything like this scale, we are heading for a population of 70million in 20 years’ time, absolutely contrary to the frequently expressed wishes of the British people.’
The breakdown showed a rise of just under 553,000 in the white non-British population, of which 514,000 were people who came to England and Wales as migrants.
These were ‘particularly people born elsewhere in Europe’ but there was also a large inflow from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.
Much of the increase was driven by numbers from Eastern Europe, especially Poland, who arrived after Britain opened its borders when their countries joined the European Union in 2004.
Among black and Asian groups, the Indian population rose by 380,000 to 1.43million and the Pakistani population went up from 728,000 to top one million.
Because of comparatively young age profiles and higher fertility rates than among other groups, Pakistani and Bangladeshi populations were driven up by high numbers of births.
Numbers of black Africans in the population went up by more than 300,000 to reach nearly 800,000.
The ONS said one reason for this was high numbers of African asylum seekers. Its report pointed to the effect of ‘international migration, in particular of people from African Commonwealth countries, and from citizens of African countries, notably Zimbabwe, Somalia, Eritrea and the Democratic Republic of Congo, seeking asylum’.
The fastest-growing ethnic group was of Chinese people, whose population nearly doubled to reach 452,000 in 2009.
The greatest concentration of black and Asian numbers was in London, where in several areas ‘minority’ populations make up a majority.
However the share of ethnic minority and white non-British in the capital stayed roughly the same, at about 40 per cent, over the eight years.
This is because while large numbers of immigrants arrived, many minority families joined the growing flight to suburban towns in the Home Counties.