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Minorities make up 5.5% of UK population

BRITAIN'S population has scarcely risen for the past 20 years, returns from the 1991 census published for the first time yesterday reveal. They show that in April last year, the population was 54,156,067 - 8,800 higher than a decade earlier.

Between 1971 and 1981 the numbers increased by less than 200,000, reversing a trend of steady increases recorded since the 1891 census which showed a population of just over 33 million.

However, within a stable overall population, there have still been significant changes in distribution: the population of East Anglia has grown by 7.3 per cent while the North-west has fallen by 4.3 per cent.

The latest census was the first to question households about their ethnic origin, and showed non- whites make up 5.5 per cent of the population, although they are very unevenly distributed. Categories were defined as white, black Caribbean, black African, black other, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese, other Asian and other.

In inner London just over a quarter of the population comes from an ethnic minority while in the North and Scotland only one person in a hundred is non-white.

The South-east has the highest proportion of ethnic minorities, almost one in ten, followed by the West Midlands (almost one in 12), falling to 4.8 per cent in the East Midlands; 4.4 per cent in Yorkshire and Humberside; 3.9 per cent in the North-west; 2.1 per cent in East Anglia; 1.5 per cent in Wales; 1.4 per cent in the South- west; and 1.3 per cent in the North and Scotland.

The West Midlands has the largest Indian and Bangladeshi populations. Some 3.1 per cent of the 5.5 million residents are of Indian origin and 0.4 per cent Bangladeshi.

The North-west has the biggest Chinese population. Of 6.2 million residents, 0.3 per cent are of Chinese origin.

A breakdown of households shows there has been a big increase in the number of people living alone. More than one in four households (26.8 per cent) were of just one person - up 4 per cent since 1981.

Almost 13 per cent of households had at least one child under five, and 4.7 per cent had three or more children under 16.

The census also shows almost one in four households included a person with a long-term illness. The Welsh showed the highest figure with one in three reporting serious ill-health. South-east England had the lowest proportion with 21.2 per cent.

Two out of three people own their own home - a rise of 10.6 per cent on 1981. In contrast just 21 per cent live in council housing - a 9.7 per cent fall over the past decade. The proportion of home owners ranged from just over seven out of ten in the South- west to just over half in Scotland.

The 1991 Census County Monitor: Great Britain. (CEN 91 CM 56) OPCS Kingsway London WC2B 6JP. pounds 2.