Purpose of this report
This report describes a project that is developing a tool kit which will help people to estimate the demography, origins and cultural characteristics of local populations. As well as describing our own approach we have included references and links to work that other people are doing on this subject. Whilst our work is still in progress we hope you will find some useful material here and we would be interested in your comments on the approach we are developing.
It's hard to count people when they keep moving about
There is a growing volume of evidence that our local populations are changing rapidly as a result of both international migration and movement within the UK.
- A report by the Joseph Rowntree Trust on Migration and socioeconomic change highlights the extent of movement to and from 27 large British cities in the year before the 2001 census.
- A recent Audit commission report Crossing Borders describes the scale of change through recent international migration. "Foreign nationals made up 3.5 percent of the workforce in 1996, but 6 per cent in 2006. The accession of ten new states to the European Union in 2004 greatly increased both the scale and pace of change. In 2005/6, 662,000 new national insurance numbers were issued to foreign nationals, almost twice as many as in 2002/3."
- The URBACT study, Building sustainable urban communities led by a team from Greater London Enterprise working with researchers from Berlin, Brussels and the Association of London Government in 2005 examined the effect of big cities as magnets and the impact of globalisation on population change.
- These are just a few of many studies that have tried to build an understanding of changing patterns of migration. A more extensive list of references is given at the end of this report.
One difficulty faced by all these studies is the paucity of information to give a clear picture of population change.
- The Office for National Statistics (ONS) produces estimates of the resident population of England and Wales based on the decennial census updated each year as mid-year estimates using a wide range of data including surveys such as the Labour Force Survey, the General Household Survey, the British Crime Survey and the British Household Panel Survey plus a range of ad hoc studies. ONS itself has acknowledged that these estimates do not provide an accurate picture of the composition of populations, particularly at small area level. To address this problem they are developing new methodologies including a Ratio Change method for small area population estimating.
- The Statistics and Registration Services Bill which is now before Parliament contains provisions that may ease some of the barriers to the statistical use of data but David Rhind, chairman of the Statistics Commission, in a letter to the Times (17th May 2007) argues that ONS will not be able to produce the desired answers on its own. "Improvements also depend on Departments acting in concert".
- Many Local Authorities are convinced that the 2001 census seriously underestimated some categories of the population and that the mid year estimates perpetuate the error by failing to take account of subsequent migration. Studies by Slough Borough Council and several London Boroughs (eg Newham and Southwark (20.46KB)) have used a wide range of local data sets to demonstrate that their populations must be higher than suggested by the ONS estimates.
- The COHDMAP Review was commissioned by the Institute of Community Cohesion (iCoCo). It was led by Professor Mark Johnson of Leicester De Montford University who carried out an audit and evaluation of intelligence that can be used to describe the demographic composition of local areas and especially the ethnic mix of neighbourhoods. The next section of this report (headed "COHDMAP phase 1) summarises the findings and recommendations of the COHDMAP review.
- The COHDMAP work has now moved into a second phase led by Andrew Lawrence, an associate of the Institute of Community Cohesion (iCoCo) and Dr Colin Thunhurst of Coventry University. This work is using the findings of the phase1 COHDMAP review to develop an approach to local population estimating particularly identifying the ethnic composition of local populations and the implications for health inequalities. The work is being supported by colleagues at Leicester and Coventry City councils and Primary Care Trusts who are helping to provide quantitative data and engagement with local communities to obtain qualitative data.
We need better estimates of population change because:
- They would enable managers to plan and deliver local services in a way that meets the needs of the people who are there on the ground.
- They would help us to allocate resources more effectively both at a national and a local level.
- They should be a driver of policy. All agencies need a detailed understanding of the nature of the communities they serve to enable them to assess how well equipped they are to build community cohesion, to tackle health inequalities or to achieve other community objectives.