London’s unique language landscape where 26% don’t speak English at home

crowd backs turnedMore than a quarter of Londoners don’t speak English at home.  The latest figures, for 2015, show that the proportion of people who choose another language as their first choice for speaking to family has risen to 26%.

This is a uniquely London phenomenon. Across the UK the rate is just 8.5%.  It is highest in the West Midland, where there is a significant immigrant population and in Wales, where Welsh speakers affect the numbers.

Not speaking English chart

The figures from the Office for National Statistics, based upon its Labour Force Survey,  reveal that in Newham 58% of people are using a language other than English at home. As previous data analysis by Urbs has shown, Newham is home to London’s largest Pakistani community and a significant Indian-born population.

In neighbouring Tower Hamlets, 41% are choosing another language at home above English.  The borough has the largest number of Bangladeshi-born people in the capital.

Not speaking English map

In north London, 45% in Harrow and 43% in Brent will speak other languages ahead of English among the family.  Both boroughs have large Indian-born populations.

Ealing is home to London’s largest Polish-born population, and a significant Indian-born community, which may explain why 38% of people use a language other than English at home.

The rates are only at or below the national average in 2 boroughs, Richmond and Havering.

According to the latest population estimates, 37% of Londoners, or 3 million people, were foreign-born while 23% or 2 million people are not British citizens.

This is leading to a multi-lingual city full of bi-lingual people.  Department of Education data, reported by Urbs, shows that nearly half the primary school children and 40% of the secondary pupils in London do not speak English as their first language. In some boroughs three quarters of the students speak English as a second language.

The concern for social inclusion is those who speak no English at all. Data from the last census in 2011 revealed that there are 45,000 people, mostly women, who say that they cannot speak the language.  The Prime Minister has announced a £20 million programme of English tuition but was criticised for his targeting of Muslim women, although they are the largest group.

Source data

See also

Our multi-lingual city – English second language for half of primary pupils

East London likely focal point for PM’s English tuition for Muslim women

London is more diverse than the UN or Fifa

Poles and Pakistanis help shape the multi-cultural make up of the city

London may win for iPhone earning power over Poland but cost of living much higher

It takes 100 hours longer to earn enough money to buy an iPhone in Poland as it does in the UK.

This insight into earning power by researchers at the financial services company UBS helps to demonstrate why overseas workers find London an attractive city to find a job.

But their findings also show that while the earning potential may be better, London is an expensive city with prices much higher than they are in the place many Londoners once called home.

UBS took 68,000 pieces of data from 71 cities around world to put together an index which looks at costs and the spending power of people working there.

London is ranked as the 5th most expensive city after New York, Zurich, Geneva and Oslo and 6th most expensive if rents are excluded. When it comes to take home pay, the amount we earn after tax, London trails in 11th in the list.

And UBS came up with some interesting measures of spending power. Using a new iPhone as a benchmark they examined how long the average worker would take to earn the cash to buy one. In New York it takes 3 working days. In London it’s 41 hours, in Warsaw 141, but the longest labour was in Kiev.

Iphone earnings

Across the globe it is much quicker to eat a Big Mac than to earn the money to buy one. In London it takes 12 minutes and in Warsaw twice that. In Nairobi it’s nearly 3 hours.

Big Mac earnings

Many can happily avoid the indulgence of a new smartphone or a burger and the real cost of living is measured in essentials such as food and housing.

UBS looked at a shopping basket of 39 common food items including bread, milk, meat, fish and vegetables. Many arriving in London to work will have realised that it is much more expensive to feed the family, unless you have moved from New York or Zurich. The average global price for the basket of goods was $400. Prices were highest in Zurich and lowest in Kiev. London was 8th most expensive of the 71 cities

 

USB has published the Price and Earnings Index every three year since 1971.

See also

London expensive? Not compared to being an expat in Luanda

What National Insurance really tells us about London’s overseas workforce