Suffolk: Increase in county's migrant population revealed
PUBLISHED: 11:32 09 September 2013 | UPDATED: 11:32 09 September 2013
The migrant population in Suffolk has risen significantly in the last ten years, with Ipswich experiencing a 120% increase in numbers, according to new research released today.
Jobs in agriculture and the hospitality industry are among the key drivers, with business leaders saying migrant workers play an important role in offering employers seasonal flexibility.
Racial equality campaigners, meanwhile, say the mix of cultures in many areas is positive but can also present integration challenges.
The statistics on non-UK born population come from Oxford University’s Migration Observatory, which has used data from the 2011 census to produce the figures.
It shows Ipswich saw its non-UK born population grow 121% to 15,783 in the ten years between 2001 and 2011 while St Edmundsbury experienced a 70% increase to 9,461 people over the same period.
Overall, the east of England region now has the third largest migrant population of the ten regions of England and Wales - after London and South East England - with more than 640,000 people, around 11% of the population, having been born outside of the UK.
The Oxford University report shows people born in Poland represent the most numerous non-UK born group in the East of England with a population of more than 62,000 followed by residents born in India, Ireland, USA and Pakistan.
Business leaders say agriculture, especially in areas like Cambridgeshire, as well as hotels and restaurants throughout the region are two sectors which employ a high number of migrant workers and are “key drivers” for the upward trend in numbers.
And Brian Finnerty, regional spokesman for the National Farmers Union, said migrant workers can offer employers crucial flexibility when they need it.
He added: “The picking and harvesting of fruit and vegetables is very seasonal and weather dependent, so a farmer needs a workforce that can be flexible and be there to do the work when there is the opportunity.
But despite the benefits to employers, integrating such a high number of new migrants into the community can be a challenge acknowledges Ipswich borough councillor Albert Grant, who is also a trustee at the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality.
He said: “We have seen an incredible acceleration in migration to East Anglia from all over the world, from Africa and from Afghanistan.
“It is positive in the sense that we have a rich mix of cultures in the region but this trend is not without its challenges. Challenges like finding enough school places and integrating children into schools as well as getting different communities to work together.”
Mr Grant added: “We work with the police and other social agencies to try and make this happen, and we have avoided some of the tensions that is have been seen in other parts of the country.”
Non-UK born population figures for Suffolk district and borough council areas – percentage change 2001 - 2011
% change: 34.6
% change: 7.7
% change: 121
% change: 41.8
% change: 69.8
% change: 35.2
% change: 42.1