The mid-2018 population estimate for Wakefield District is 345,038 people. This represents a 1.25% increase on the previous year, the second highest annual growth in the region after Selby (up 1.39%). Selby, like Wakefield, has seen a lot of house building in recent years.

As seen last year, the most prominent component of change is net internal migration. Nearly 3,000 more people moved to Wakefield District from elsewhere in the UK than left. The remainder of the growth was comprised of 590 more births than deaths and 680 more people arriving in Wakefield from overseas than leaving.

Immigration has contributed to the numbers of births. Between 2007 and 2017 there were 2,530 live births in Wakefield District to mothers from the EU A10 states and in 2017, 16.7% of all births were to mothers born outside the UK, compared to 6.9% in 2004.

Source: ONS Mid-Year Population Estimates


The registrations for National Insurance numbers by adult overseas nationals provides further details regarding immigrants who are working. In Wakefield district, there was a large increase in these registrations by people from the EU Accession states from 2004 onwards (see chart below). This flow of migrant workers, principally from Poland, slowed during the economic downturn and then rose again to a peak in 2015 – since when, numbers registering for NI have fallen again markedly. As the chart below shows, in the 12 months to the end of Q2 2018 there were 841 NI registrations by people from the EU Accession states, down from 2,110 in the 12 months to Q2 2015.

There has also been a recent increase in immigration, for work, from the longer-established EU countries, particularly from Spain, Portugal and Italy – 322 people in the last two years. Immigration of workers from Asia, the Middle East and Africa has slowed since changes to immigration policy came into effect in 2011. The number of people who have migrated into Wakefield for work and subsequently returned to their country of origin is not known.

Net international migration peaked around 2007 and has fallen back gradually since then. Between mid-2017 and mid-2018, 1,300 people were estimated to have arrived from overseas, and 650 people left. The age profile of people arriving from overseas is fairly young, although people of all ages are represented. The age profile of international out-migrants is similar.

Source: Department for Work and Pensions

It is not known precisely how many people born elsewhere in the EU are currently living in the district, but the 2011 Census and more recent ONS population data suggest the number could be between 13,000 and 20,000 people. Nor do we know precisely how many of these people are currently employed in the district’s economy. At the time of the 2011 Census the number was around 5,600, but a further 11,000 National Insurance numbers have been issued to EU-born immigrants living in Wakefield since then.

Elsewhere in the Leeds City Region

Harrogate, Craven and York all had more deaths than births between mid-2017 and mid-2018 but positive net migration stopped the populations from decreasing (see table below). High numbers of births compared to deaths stopped the population in Bradford from decreasing in size, as more people left Bradford last year than arrived (although net international migration remains high). It was a similar picture in Leeds, although here the net migration was positive.

Leeds City Region components of population change, mid-2017 to mid-2018. Source: ONS

Migration Flows

The geography of internal migration in 2017 shows a large, positive net flow of people from Leeds to Wakefield, followed by lesser net numbers from Kirklees and Bradford. The largest net outflows were to Barnsley and the East Riding of Yorkshire (more people left Wakefield District to live in these areas than arrived from these areas to live in Wakefield).

Source: ONS Mid-2018 Population Estimates

The age profile of total net migration is similar to that seen five years ago, just with more numbers in each age group. The only exception to this general picture was a small net inflow of people aged 10 to 19 into Wakefield District in 2017, compared to a net outflow five years ago - the typical pattern expected as a proportion of people aged 18 and 19 leave the district to study at university.

More interesting, perhaps, is the same comparison (between 2012 and 2018), but just for Leeds. This also shows the change to a small net inflow of people aged 10 to 19, but also large increases in the numbers of children aged 0 to 9 and adults in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. This large net inflow of families and people of working age is most likely to being driven by the increased availability of housing in Wakefield District, relative to the situation in Leeds. Between 2012 and 2017, numbers of jobs created in Leeds was more than three times higher than the number of jobs created in Wakefield. Yet at the same time, the net number of additional homes built in Leeds was less than two times the number added in Wakefield, and this imbalance could explain some of the flows.

Source: ONS Mid-year Population Estimates

Asylum Seekers

Some asylum seekers are housed and supported in Wakefield District through the Home Office dispersal system. Published Home Office figures show the number of people being supported in Wakefield while awaiting a decision on their claim [known as Section 95 support]: the figures include people who are being accommodated, and people receiving subsistence-only support i.e. no accommodation. These figures do not include those in ‘initial’ or ‘induction’ accommodation awaiting dispersal accommodation across the region.

At the beginning of 2004 the District was housing around 500 asylum seekers. This number declined steadily over the next ten years. Numbers being supported have started to increase again since the beginning of 2018.

Source: Home Office

There were also around 22 unaccompanied asylum seeking children [UASC] being looked after by the local authority at the end of March 2018. These are children who are in the UK without family and have claimed asylum in their own right. They are separate to the dispersal system for asylum seekers described above.

Source: Department for Education

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