The London Intelligence – Issue 5


In the year to mid-2017 London’s population experienced the slowest rate of growth in over a decade, at only 0.6 per cent. International migration to London has declined to a net gain of only 83,000 individuals, though remains the largest contributor to growth in the capital. National Insurance Number registrations – by people coming from overseas to work – continued to drop, with EU registrations falling 25 percent year-on-year to Q1 2018.


population change, population growth
Office for National Statistics

According to the latest estimates, the capital’s population grew by only 0.6 per cent in the year to mid-2017, its slowest rate of growth in over a decade, and almost half the growth rate a year previously (which was 1.1 per cent). This slowdown in growth means the 2017 population was 79,000 (or 0.9 per cent) lower than expected within 2016-based projections.

The contribution of net international migration has declined considerably year-on-year to a net gain of just under 83,000 individuals. Though international migration remains the largest contributor to population growth, it now only contributes 5,000 more individuals than those added through natural change (births and deaths). Net internal migration saw a balance of 107,000 people leave London for the rest of the UK, more than 14 per cent higher than the year previously.


Internal migration

Office for National Statistics

While 416,000 Londoners moved across London borough boundaries over the year, 336,000 Londoners left the city, and only 230,000 individuals from the rest of the country made their home here.

People in their mid-twenties to thirties formed the largest group leaving London, while the commuter belt was among the most popular destinations, suggesting housing affordability as a main factor in the decision. Other major cities, such as Birmingham, Bristol and Brighton also had a net gain of over 2,000 people from the capital.

Conversely, some of the highest net gains for the capital came from university towns and cities, such as Oxford, Cambridge and Exeter, as graduates are likely to move to London for work.

National Insurance registrations

Department for Work and Pensions

National Insurance Number (NINo) registrations – which are required for work and benefit purposes – by foreign nationals coming to London continue to fall. There were just over 58,600 registrations in Q1 this year. This is 16 per cent fewer compared to a year previously and only just over half their Q3 2014 peak level.

EU registrations continue to fall – 25 per cent year-on-year – while non-EU registrations grew by 9 per cent, after four consecutive quarters of falls.

These figures do not show the number of foreign nationals leaving the capital – although other data suggests this is at near record highs, potentially creating a combined effect of declining numbers of EU citizens living in the capital.

Department for Work and Pensions

A number of boroughs, particularly in the east, north and north west of the city, show much sharper declines in registrations than the London average. Redbridge saw the largest fall, of nearly 30 per cent, closely followed by Harrow (-23.5 per cent) and Newham (-22.9 per cent) – the latter accommodates the highest proportion of registrations overall.

Some of the other boroughs, particularly central ones, such as Lambeth, Richmond and Hackney, saw more modest falls.