Wednesday, 7.30pm: Almost 17,000 migrants, a population the equivalent size to Whittlesey, moved to live in Peterborough between 2004 and 2009, according to new figures released on Tuesday (11 December).
Figures from the 2011 Census revealed earlier this year that Peterborough’s population rose by 27,570 to 183,631 between 2001 and 2011.
More in-depth figures released this week show that between 2004 and 2009, 16,948 people or 9.3 per cent of the city’s current population moved to Peterborough from abroad.
This is the highest level of migration ever recorded in the city by the Census. Between 2001 and 2011, 24,166 migrants moved to Peterborough.
The figures also show that 14,134 people living in the city are from Eastern and Central Europe, 4,206 from Africa and 11,332 from the Middle East and Asia. The vast majority of migrants, 20,685 people or 11.2 per cent of the population, are aged between 20 and 44.
Peterborough’s white British population was 130,232 or 70.9 per cent in 2011, down compared to 133,751 or 85.7 per cent in 2001.
Peterborough City Council leader Cllr Marco Cereste said that high migration levels are a benefit to the city because it has sparked growth in hard economic times.
He said: “We have got high migration figures but if we are going to have high figures then it is good to have them in the 24 to 44 age bracket because these are the people who work and make money for the city.
“If we have got 17,000 new people that’s bringing in around £7 million extra council tax. Let’s not just assume migration is a bad thing. The only bad thing is if you can’t deal with it.
“We have a plan that deals with huge growth in the city over the next 15 years. We have got sites identified for houses which are being built and schools are being built.”
But Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said to see high levels of migration as a benefit was “short-sighted”.
He said: “Most people see immigration as a cause for concern in the city. This is an unfortunate result of the Labour Government’s Open Door policy. We want people with good skills and earning good salaries contributing to the economy but under that policy we have not been able to choose who comes into the country. The problem is it affects the delivery of public services.
“I don’t have any confidence that the council is keeping ahead of it all. You only have to look at Hampton, they haven’t planned ahead with the infrastructure and they have had to play catch up all along. It is the same with the schools.”
In terms of education, the figures also show that 36,158 people or a quarter of the city’s population, aged from 16 to 74, have no qualifications whatsover, compared to 34,116 people or 30.55 per cent in 2001.
But the number with a level four qualification, such as a diploma, or above is up from 16,598 or 14.86 per cent in 2001 to 29,245 or 20.2 per cent in 2011.
Cllr John Holdich, cabinet member for education, said the council had spent £190 million in the last five years creating extra school places but migration still poses a challenge as hundreds more places are needed in the future.
He added the Peterborough Skills Service, run by Opportunity Peterborough and the council, was raising aspirations and helping people gain qualifications and apprenticeships.
Facts from the 2011 Census
In 2011, 145,739 people or 79.4 per cent of the city’s population had the United Kingdom as their country of birth.
1,179 or 0.6 per cent were born in Italy; 1,530 or 0.8 per cent were born in Portugal; 6,666 or 3.6 per cent were born in Poland and 3,712 or two per cent were born in Lithuania.
Of the 4,206 or 2.3 per cent of the population who were born in Africa, the most numerous nationality was Zimbabwean with 656 or 0.4 per cent of the population coming from there.
Of the 11,332 or 6.2 per cent of the population from the Middle East and Asia, the highest proportion (4,805 or 2.6 per cent of the population) were born in Pakistan.
There are 541 people (0.3 per cent) living in the city who were born in the United States, 166 or 0.1 per cent who were born in Australia and 604 or 0.3 per cent who were born in the Caribbean.
83.7 per cent (61,982) of city households have people aged 16 or over speaking English as their main language, compared to 93.6 per cent in the East of England and 90.9 per cent in England.
Ten per cent (7,438) of households have no people who speak English, compared to three per cent in the East of England and 4.4 per cent in England.
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