Inaccurate claims about the future of nationality and country of birth statistics

Following yesterday’s release of Census 2021 ethnic group, national identity, religion and language bulletin, there have been misleading claims regarding the ONS’ plans on the future publication of nationality and country of birth statistics. It has been suggested that in future the ONS will not ask people their country of birth or publish data on the subject.

This is simply not true. No decision has been taken on the future of the census. The National Statistician will be making a recommendation to government at the end of 2023 on what is needed for us to continue to realise our ambitions for more frequent, timely and inclusive population and social statistics.

On our regular, annual, population statistics by country of birth and nationality we have recently released a statement which makes clear why we have taken the decision to change our way of producing our Population of the UK by country of birth and nationality series, which is based on our Annual Population Survey (APS), not Census 2021.

Essentially, this is because of an underlying issue with the data used to produce it. On Thursday 24 November we published a more timely measure of the non-UK population, for England and Wales, which rolls forward Census Day 2021 data for that population with net migration and deaths. At this moment in time this is the best measure we can produce because of the data issues explained in the statement. Going forward, we plan to produce provisional measures of the non-UK born population, depending on user needs and working closely with colleagues in National Records of Scotland, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency and other government departments, next year. We will provide an update on this in early 2023.

Misleading statistics

There have also been misleading statistical claims that the latest census data show that white people are now a minority in London and Manchester.

This is confusing responses from people who have identified with the ‘white British’ ethnic group with responses which identify with ‘white’ ethnic group.

In London, 53.8% of usual residents identify their ethnic group within the high-level white category. In Manchester, 56.8% of usual residents identify their ethnic group within the high-level white category.