Since 2001, there has been large-scale in-migration
to Bedford Borough from the Accession States which entered the
European Union in 20041and 20072, along
with significant in-migration from Africa, Asia and the
Numbers are difficult to estimate with confidence, the main
sources being National Insurance Number registrations (NINo) and
2011 Census data.
National Insurance Number Registrations to Foreign
NINo registrations, however, are merely
indicative of the scale of international migration, since
the NINo data:
- excludes those who may have moved to the
Borough after registering elsewhere in the UK,
- takes no account of dependants,
- provides no information on the numbers who may have left
Bedford Borough for other UK destinations or to return to their
country of origin.
In Bedford Borough, NINo registrations to overseas nationals
rose sharply following the expansion of the EU in 2004, peaking at
2,220 in 2006. They then fell steadily to 1,404 in 2009,
before rising again to 1,904 in 2011.
They declined to 1,396 in 2012, but rose to 1,748 in 2013, and
to a record level of 2,436 in 2014:
NINo Registrations to non-UK Nationals, Bedford
Source: DWP, NINo Registrations
A total of 21,518 NINos were issued to non-UK
nationals resident in Bedford Borough between 2002 and 2014.
Poland has been the largest source of NINo
registrations in each year since 2004, followed by Lithuanian and
Indian nationals. In total, NINos were issued to 8,000 people
from Poland in Bedford Borough between 2004 and 2014.
While in-migration from the EU Accession
countries accounted for a large proportion of the growth in the
Borough’s BME population between the 2001 and 2011 Censuses, it is
important to note that there has been significant in-migration from
many other countries.
This includes people from countries such as
India and Pakistan where new migrants have added to communities
that were already well established in Bedford Borough in 2001, but
also arrivals from countries that were not significant features of
the Borough’s ethnic composition in 2001. Examples include
migrants from Afghanistan and Zimbabwe.
Following the removal in January 2014 of
restrictions on the right of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals to
work in the UK, there has also been significant in-migration from
these countries, especially from Romania.
In 2014, Romania (579) was the second highest
source of NINo registrants, after Poland (689).
In the first half of 2015 the number of NINos
issued to Romanian nationals (374) actually exceeded the number to
Polish nationals (319). This has also been reflected in the
number of school pupils who have Romanian as their first language;
these doubled between Spring 2014 and Spring 2015.
2011 Census Migration Data
The 2011 Census indicates that 27,700 people
in Bedford Borough were born outside the UK, representing 17.6% of
the total population. This was a substantial increase over
2001 (18,100 – 12.2%). Of these residents, 12,900 had arrived
in the UK since 2001.
The largest number of residents born outside
the UK was from Poland. The 2011 Census estimate is 3,995
though this is likely to be an under-estimation due to the
difficulty in enumerating the many younger adults who form a
majority of new arrivals from Poland.
A detailed 2011 Census breakdown of Country of Birth in Bedford
Borough is available here
Country of Origin of Birth Mother
The pattern of births to mothers born outside
the UK is another indicator of the level and origin of
The increase in annual births which the
Borough has experienced since 2001 can be largely attributed
to mothers born outside the UK who accounted for 77% of the total
increase between 2001 and 2014, and for 32% of all births in
Births to mothers born in the New European
Union Accession countries (countries which joined the EU in 2004
and 2007) have increased dramatically since 2004, from 1% of all
births to 12% in 2014.
Births to mothers born in Asia and the Middle
East accounted for 11% of all births in 2014.
Births to Mothers Born Outside the UK, Bedford Borough
Source: ONS, Births by Mother’s Country of Birth,
2001-2014. *Countries which joined the EU in
Languages Spoken in Bedford Borough
Detailed data on languages spoken in Bedford Borough and on
households in which no one has English as a Main Language is
available from the 2011
More than 100 languages are spoken in Bedford Borough. The
languages most commonly spoken as a Main Language are: Polish
(3,841); Panjabi (2,449); Bengali (1,691); and Italian (1,470).
In 4,170 households, no adult has English as a main language and
in a further 612 households only a child has English as a main
language. These households are particularly concentrated in
Castle, Cauldwell, Harpur, Kingsbrook and Queens Park wards.
1 Cyprus, Czech Republic,
Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and