Poland now most common foreign country of birth in UK

There were an estimated 795,000 UK residents born in India, which had been the most common country of birth outside Britain for the previous 11 years.

AFP| Last Updated: Aug 26, 2016, 00:24 AM IST

London: Poland is the most common foreign country of birth for people living in Britain, overtaking India, according to official estimates released Thursday.

An estimated 831,000 Polish-born people lived in Britain in 2015, said the Office for National Statistics -- a more than 13-fold increase on the 69,000 residents in 2004, when Poland joined the EU and its nationals gained the right to live and work in Britain.

There were an estimated 795,000 UK residents born in India, which had been the most common country of birth outside Britain for the previous 11 years.

"Traditionally the UK`s relationship with Ireland and the former colonies have been key factors in shaping its migrant population," said Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.

"What we can see from current data is that in recent years the EU has played a similar role."

In 2015, the five most common countries of birth for UK residents born outside Britain were: Poland (831,000); India (795,000); Pakistan (503,000); Republic of Ireland (382,000), and Germany (286,000).

The number of non-UK born residents rose by 63 percent from 3.3 million in 2004 to 8.6 million in 2015. They now constitute 13.3 percent of the population.

The highest level was in London, where some 37 percent of people were born outside Britain. In the London boroughs of Brent and Newham, the figure was 54 percent, the highest in the country.

In 2015, Polish was the most common non-British nationality, with an estimated 916,000 residents, up by 847,000 from 2004. Poland has been the largest non-British population since 2007.

In 2015, the five most common non-British nationalities for UK residents were: Poland (916,000); India (362,000); Republic of Ireland (332,000); Romania (233,000), and Portugal (219,000).Meanwhile, net migration to Britain -- the difference between the numbers arriving and leaving -- stood at an estimated 327,000 in the year to March.

It marks a slight fall on the previous 12 months but is the third highest on record.

Immigration was estimated at 633,000, one of the highest recorded levels.

Immigration was a key issue in the June referendum on Britain`s membership of the European Union, in which 52 percent voted to leave the bloc.

The Conservative government was elected on a manifesto pledge to get net migration below 100,000.

"The referendum result demonstrated public concern about the scale of immigration. It simply cannot be allowed to continue," said Andrew Green of campaign group Migration Watch UK.

Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill said: "There is no doubt there is far more to do."

Reducing immigration would be a priority in Britain`s EU exit negotiations, he added.

Separate figures also showed that more than a quarter (27.5 percent) of live births in England and Wales last year were to women born outside Britain -- the highest level on record.