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Ethnicity

Bedford Borough is one of the most ethnically diverse authorities in the East of England, with up to 100 different ethnic groups living within its boundaries.

The 2011 Census indicated that 28.5% of the Borough's population was from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups1.  Here is a detailed breakdown of ethnicity by age and sex in 2011.

The Borough's BME proportion is significantly higher than England (which is 20.2% but only 13.9% if the London Boroughs are excluded) and the East of England (14.7%).
In particular, Bedford Borough has higher proportions of Asian and Other White2 groups than England:

 

Bedford Borough and England Ethnicity 2011

 

     Source: 2011 Census, Table KS201EW, ONS

The main BME groups in Bedford Borough are' White Other' (which includes large Italian and Polish communities) and Indian, with substantial Black Caribbean, Black African, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi populations:

 

Ethnic Groups, 2011

Ethnic Group

Bedford Borough

England

East

 

Number

  %

       %

  %

White - British

112,588

71.5

79.8

85.3

White - Irish

1,683

1.1

1.0

1.0

White - Gypsy or Irish Traveller 115 0.1 0.1 0.1

White - Other White

12,460

7.9

4.6

4.5

Mixed - White and Black Caribbean

2,396

1.5

0.8

0.6

Mixed - White and Black African

587

0.4

0.3

0.3

Mixed - White and Asian

1,366

0.9

0.6

0.6

Mixed - Other Mixed

1,037

0.7

0.5

0.5

Asian or Asian British - Indian

8,122

5.2

2.6

1.5

Asian or Asian British - Pakistani

3,270

2.1

2.1

1.1

Asian or Asian British - Bangladeshi

3,225

2.0

0.8

0.6

Asian or Asian British - Chinese

905 0.6 0.7 0.6

Asian or Asian British - Other Asian

2,410

1.5

1.5

1.0

Black or Black British - Black African

2,741

1.7

1.8

1.2

Black or Black British - Black Caribbean

2,843

1.8

1.1

0.6

Black or Black British - Other Black

618

0.4

0.5

0.2

Other ethnic group - Arab

331

0.2

0.4

0.2

Other ethnic group - Any Other Ethnic Group

782

0.5

0.6

0.3

All People

157,479

100.0

100.0

100.0

   Source: 2011 Census, Table KS201EW, ONS

 

Distribution of BME Groups

Within the Borough, the BME population is concentrated in the urban area of Bedford and Kempston where 37.2% of the population is non-'White British', compared to 12.7% in the Rural area.   

Several wards in Bedford Town have very high BME populations, particularly Queens Park (75%) and Cauldwell (59%). 

 

Changes to Ethnic Composition 2001 - 2011

The Borough’s BME population increased by 16,400 between 2001 and 2011, from 19.2% to 28.5% of the total population. 

The 'White British' population declined by 6,900 and from 80.8% to 71.5% of the total population.

Much of the increase resulted from in-migration from the EU Accession countries, particularly Poland and Lithuania, though in-migration also included significant new migrant communities such as those from Afghanistan and Zimbabwe.

 

Ethnic Composition and Change 2001-2011, Bedford Borough

 

2001

2011

2001-2011 Change

 

Number

   %

Number

   %

Number

   %

White British

119,467

80.8

112,588

71.5

-6,879

-5.8

Other White

9,192

6.2

14,258

9.1

5,066

55.1

Mixed

2,910

2.0

5,386

3.5

2,476

85.1

Asian/Asian British

12,071

8.2

17,932

11.4

5,861

48.6

Black/Black British

3,850

2.6

6,202

3.9

2,352

61.1

Arab*/Other

427

0.3

1,113

0.7

686

160.6*

All Groups

147,917

100.0

157,479

100.0

9,562

6.5

Sources: ONS, 2001 Census, Table ST101 and 2011 Census, Table KS201EW.

* Arab was not identified as a separate ethnic group in the 2001 Census, so 2001-2011 comparisons may be misleading.

The number of births to mothers born outside the UK was also a contributing factor.  These have risen from 342 in 2001 to 689 in 2014, and now account for 32% of all births in the Borough.  In addition, there are many births to BME mothers who were born in the UK.

More recently there has been significant in-migration of Romanians who were the second highest source of National Insurance Number registrations to non-UK Nationals in 2014 (after Poland).

 

Ethnic Composition by Age

A detailed age and sex breakdown of the Borough's population by ethnicity is available here

The age profile of the Borough's BME population is considerably younger than the 'White British' population. 

BME levels are highest among the 0-4 age group (41%), decline to 34% among those aged 5-19, and then rise to 38% in the 20-39 age group, reflecting the high proportion of migrants who are in the 20-39 age group.  

BME levels then decline to 22% for people aged 40-64, and to15% among those 65+.

The youngest age profiles are found in the Mixed/Multiple ethnicities where 62% of this group is aged 0-19 compared to just 25% across the total Borough population.  The Bangladeshi community also has a very young age profile with 47% aged 0-19.

 

Projections of Ethnic Composition

Any projection of the Borough’s future ethnic composition is highly conjectural, especially given the uncertainty regarding future levels of international migration and migrants' countries of origin.

It is clear, however, that the Borough’s overall BME population will continue to increase, both in absolute terms and as a proportion of the Borough population. 

That 41% of children aged 0-4 in 2011 were from BME groups is an indication of the future ethnic composition of the Borough.  All minority ethnic groups are likely to experience rising populations, including a significant increase in the numbers in Mixed/Multiple ethnicities.

 

1 Defined as all the 18 ethnic groups in the ethnicity classification established by the Office for National Statistics (and used in the 2011 Census) with the exception of the 'White British' ethnic group.

2 Other White comprises White Other (e.g. Italian, Polish), White Irish, and Gypsy or Irish Traveller.

 

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