Net internal migration continues to be a prominent component of population change, with around 2,600 more people moving to Wakefield District from elsewhere in the UK in 2022 than leaving. Internationally, 1,250 more people arrived in Wakefield from overseas last year than left, a marked increase on the previous year. In percentage terms, around one-third of the population growth between mid-2021 and mid-2022 is accounted for by net international migration, and two-thirds by net internal migration. The numbers of births and deaths in 2022 were very similar. The effect of international migration on annual population change varies markedly across the region, with far larger flows in districts with universities.

In 2022, 18.1% of all births were to mothers born outside the UK, compared to 6.9% in 2004. Between these years, 10,200 live births in Wakefield District have been to mothers born outside the UK.


The registrations for National Insurance (NI) 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. The COVID-19 pandemic also affected the National Insurance number registration processes itself.

Compared to 2019, the year 2022 saw an 80% fall in NI registrations from adults from the EU, but a doubling in numbers of registrations from adults from Asia, the Middle East and Africa, and a 320% increase in registrations from adults from other European (non-EU) countries (registrations from Ukrainian adults are included here). 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-2021 and mid-2022, around 2,400 people were estimated to have arrived to reside in Wakefield District from overseas, and 1,100 people are estimated to have left. The age profile of people arriving from overseas is fairly young (a lot of people in their twenties and thirties), although people of all ages are represented. The age profile of international out-migrants is similar.

Elsewhere in the Leeds City Region

The continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on deaths in 2021 and 2022 will have been a significant factor in the negative natural population change (births minus deaths) in over half of the region's local authority areas. The loosening of international travel restrictions led to an increase in immigration, especially in some of the large cities, where international students returned once more. Other factors are likely to have been people arriving on humanitarian routes (including Ukraine and British National (Overseas) schemes), as well as an increase in non-EU workers.

Internal Migration Flows

The geography of internal migration between mid-2021 and mid-2022 shows a large, positive net flow of people from Leeds to Wakefield, followed by smaller net numbers from Kirklees and Bradford. The largest net outflows were to Barnsley, the East Riding of Yorkshire and North Yorkshire (more people left Wakefield District to live in these areas than arrived from these areas to live in Wakefield).


According to data from the Home Office, at the end of September 2023 the initial accommodation at Urban House was housing around 260 people waiting for their requests for asylum support to be assessed. Another 440 people were being housed in contingency accommodation, mostly hotels, and around 260 people were in dispersed accommodation while awaiting a decision on their asylum claim or appeal. Around 30 people were receiving subsistence support only.

There were also 23 unaccompanied asylum seeking children [UASC] being cared for by the local authority at the end of March 2022. 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.

2021 Census

The 2021 Census provides a detailed snapshot of the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of the resident population. The census asks in what country people were born in, and this provides the opportunity to look at a range of topics for immigrants to the district. A lot of information can be found by exploring the dashboard below. Some example facts include,

  • The number of residents born outside the UK has risen from 6,168 in 1981 (2.0% of the population) to 30,074 in 2021 (8.2% of the population).
  • Four hundred of those born in Africa have been in Wakefield District for less than two years.
  • Seven hundred residents were born in Zimbabwe.
  • 42% of residents born elsewhere in Europe are living in privately rented accommodation.
  • Among the 1,100 residents born in South East Asia, two-thirds are female.
  • 30% of residents in Wakefield East ward were born outside the UK.
  • 29% of Africa-born females work in professional occupations and 26% work in caring, leisure or other service occupations.
  • 35% of overseas-born females and 30% of overseas-born males have a Level 4 qualification, or higher. For UK-born residents, the proportions are 24% and 22% respectively.
  • 66% of Africa-born residents aged 65 and over are in very good or good health, compared to 48% of residents of the same age born in the Middle East and Asia.
  • 35% of females from the Middle East and Asia work in human health and social work activities.


Health intelligence pack for migrant health: North East and Yorkshire
Intelligence pack produced by Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) presenting data on migrant populations for the purpose of providing support for regional and local stakeholders focussed on strategies for improving migrant health.
Local migration profile summaries (from Migration Yorkshire)
This website provides a number of dashboards on international migration across Yorkshire
Wakefield District City of Sanctuary
Wakefield District City of Sanctuary offers welcome and inclusion to people coming to the district whose lives are in danger in their own countries.
The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford
Based at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford, the Migration Observatory provides impartial, independent, authoritative, evidence-based analysis of data on migration and migrants in the UK, to inform media, public and policy debates, and to generate high quality research on international migration and public policy issues.
National Insurance number allocations to adult overseas nationals entering the UK
A quarterly report published by the Department for Work and Pensions. The statistics show a count, by individual nationality, of the number of NI numbers registered to adult non-UK nationals, irrespective of the length of stay in the UK. The statistics are not a count of quarterly or annual migration or the number of adult nationals currently residing in the UK, but they do provide a timely proxy for migration trends.
Home Office immigration system statistics quarterly release
Contains a very wide range of immigration statistics and analysis at a country level, and some detail at local authority level for asylum support, resettlement and Ukraine visa schemes.
International migration, England and Wales: Census 2021
Analysis from the Office for National Statistics on what the 2021 Census tells us about international migration.
Experiences of displaced young people living in England: January to March 2023
Qualitative research from the Office of National Statistics exploring the lived experiences of young people (aged 14 to 19 years), living in England, who have been displaced due to reasons including, but not limited to, conflict, poverty and perceived discrimination. Findings relate to displaced young people's experiences of arriving, settling and adjusting in the UK, as well as their access and engagement with services including housing, education and healthcare.