Blacks and Asians overtake whites in two areas of Britain

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The Independent Online

Two areas of Britain have more blacks and Asians than white people for the first time ever, results from the 2001 Census revealed today.

Two areas of Britain have more blacks and Asians than white people for the first time ever, results from the 2001 Census revealed today.

Data from the survey said the overall ethnic minority population of England and Wales rose from six per cent in 1991 to nine per cent in 2001.

Whites made up 39.4 per cent of people living in the East London borough of Newham and 45.3 per cent in Brent in the North West of the capital.

Nearly 72 per cent of people gave their religion as Christian (37 million) and the second largest faith was Islam with 1,547,000 followers or three per cent of the population.

There were 552,000 Hindus, 329,000 Sikhs, 260,000 Jews and 144,000 Buddhists, while 7.7 million said they had no religion.

The survey showed a significant shift away from traditional married life. "In previous censuses, when you knocked on a door you were likely to find a married couple behind it," said John Pullinger of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in reference to figures for households.

"In this census for the first time you don't. In 1981 64 per cent of the population were married couples and in 1991 it was 55 per cent. Now it is 45 per cent."

The number of divorced people rose from 26.3 per cent in 1991 to 30.1 per cent, while cohabiting couples made up one in ten of the population – double the number a decade earlier.

The proportion of lone parent families increased from 5.2 per cent to 6 per cent over ten years.

For the first time, the census in April 2001 asked if householders were caring for an elderly sick relative or friend.

Officials were surprised to discover 5.2 million people were providing unpaid care, with one million of them giving more than 50 hours a week.

The experts stressed that figures on race were not directly comparable because questions on the census form changed between the 1991 and 2001 surveys.

It showed 9.5 million people have long–term illness or disability, 18.2 per cent of the population compared with 13.3 per cent a decade ago.

Of these, 4.3 million were of working age, or one in eight people.

The number of Star Wars fans who gave their religion as "Jedi" – because of an

Internet campaign running at the time of the census – was 390,000, or 0.7 per cent of the population.

Registrar General for England and Wales Len Cook said: "We have put them among the 7.7 million people who said they had no religion.

"I suspect this was a decision which will not be challenged greatly."

The fans of the science fiction saga had been encouraged to enter Jedi as their faith in the mistaken belief that if 10,000 did so, it would be recognised as an official religion.

Mr Cook added: "Some 390,000 people reported that they were Jedi. I think it was not a particularly serious answer by someone who had a good idea but I think it encouraged people to fill in their census forms.

"That can only be a good thing. I think there are other reasons why something should be classed as a religion, rather than a group of people getting together on the Internet to arrange it."

The question on religion was voluntary and just over four million people chose not to answer it.

Looking at the make–up of one parent families looking after dependent children, 90.5 per cent were headed by women.

Single parent families headed by a man were most common in the East Midlands, making up 11 per cent of lone parent households.

When it came to going to work, male lone parents were more likely to be employed at 62.9 per cent compared with women at just 47.8 per cent.

The men were also more likely to be in full–time work, while women chose to work mainly on a part–time basis.

In the north east, just 18 per cent of female lone parents were in full–time work while a further 27 per cent had part–time employment.

Overall across England and Wales, more than half of women in lone parent households with dependant children had no work.

Wokingham had the highest proportion of women lone parents in full–time work at 38.6 per cent.

When looking at the number of children making up the households in England and Wales, almost 30 per cent contained dependants, with one in nine home to youngsters under five.

The West Midlands had the highest proportion of dependant children at 30.7 per cent, but Newham in London had the most for a district at 37.5 per cent.

Newham was also the district with the highest number of under fives at 17.2 per cent.

The south west of England had the lowest number of children at 27.3 per cent and just 10.2 per cent of its households contained youngsters under five.

In the busy centre of the City of London, only one in 10 households had dependent children and in Westminster it was one in six.

Looking at the parents of dependant children, 59 per cent of households contained married couples, 11 per cent cohabiting couples and 22 per cent lone parents.

The statistics also revealed worrying facts about unemployment in highly populated areas such as London.

Over a fifth of households in London where there were dependant children living had no adult in work.

In the districts of Tower Hamlets, Islington, Hackney, Newham and Haringey, there were fewer than one in three adults in these households in work.

This compared with one in six across the country as a whole.

Nearly one in 10 households had a grown–up child over the age of 18 still living in homes where there were no dependant children.

The highest number for this was in the north east with 10.6 per cent, while the lowest was in the south west at 8.3 per cent.

Households made up of pensioners were almost a quarter of the total in England and Wales, with the region with the highest of all the south west at 27 per cent.

Popular retirement destinations along the south coast also saw high numbers of pensioners and, in Dorset, these households made up 33.4 per cent, while in the Christchurch district, this soared to 40.6 per cent.

The fewest number of pensioners by far was found in London at 18.4 per cent, followed by the West Midlands at 23.8 per cent.

Of all households containing pensioners, 61 per cent were single, while 38 per cent were part of a couple or family.