Enfield records slower-than-average population growth

Census data shows borough has recorded a 5.6% rise in population over the last decade, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

A London borough of Enfield welcome sign
Enfield is now the joint sixth-largest London borough, according to the Census 2021 data

Figures have been revealed showing how the population of Enfield borough has changed over the last decade.

Initial results from the 2021 Census of England and Wales were published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this week. The figures show London’s overall population grew by 7.7%, from 8.2 million to 8.8 million, since the last census was carried out in 2011.

The growth rate varied significantly between boroughs, however, with some in central London even seeing declines in population. London Councils, which represents the London boroughs, warned local authorities could lose out on funding because of undercounting it fears has been caused by the timing of the census survey during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Enfield dropped from being the fourth-largest borough in London to the joint sixth-largest between 2011 and 2021, the census figures reveal. The borough’s population grew from 312,500 in 2011 to 330,000 in 2021, an increase of 5.6%. It was overtaken by Newham and Brent, which recorded bigger rises.

According to the data, Enfield saw a 16.1% increase in the number of people aged 65 years and over, a 4.3% rise in people aged 15 to 64 years, and a 3.7% climb in children aged under 15 years. Within these overall groups, there were declines in the number of 20 to 34-year-olds, 45 to 49-year-olds, and children aged up to four years.

London Councils, a cross-party group representing the capital’s local authorities, claims the new census data should be treated with “extreme caution”.

It warns the number of Londoners is likely to have been significantly undercounted because the data was taken during the third national Covid-19 lockdown, in March 2021, when many residents may have temporarily moved to family homes outside of the capital.

The figures indicate the capital’s population was 3% lower than the previous ONS projection for 2021, with some borough figures 24% lower. London Councils believes this could have an impact on how £4billion of government funding is allocated to local authorities based on population figures.

Georgia Gould, chair of London Councils, said: “Counting London’s diverse population is an incredible challenge even at the best of times due to our high levels of migration, homelessness and population churn. The lockdown will have undoubtedly made this worse, particularly for communities who suffer from digital exclusion.

“It’s a bitter irony that it’s often the Londoners with the lowest census response rates who most depend on local authority support – but even small inaccuracies in population counts can seriously undermine future service provision.

“We are concerned that, without looking at the data in the context of the challenges the pandemic created, Londoners will lose out.”