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Help us find the Census Lost Londoners

Published: 28 June 2022

Westminster City Council today launches Lost Londoners Count, a cross-party campaign of the capital’s inner city local authorities calling for fair funding in light of newly released Census data.

The drive comes amid concerns that some 100,000 residents across central London were not recorded during the 2021 Census, which was taken during the third national Covid-lockdown.

Members of Central London Forward (CLF), the partnership of the 12 central London local authorities, fear that the data was skewed because of the large numbers of people normally resident in the city who quit the capital during the pandemic.

This created an anomaly as thousands of households were temporary living elsewhere in the country and many resident EU Nationals returned to their native countries – meaning that central Government funding may be disproportionally affected.

In Westminster alone it is estimated that around 30,000 residents (some 15 percent of the normal total population) may be missing from the Census data.

That could mean, depending on how the Government sets funding for each council, that Westminster gets £40m less than it needs to provide services for residents actually living in the city.

As residents, workers and tourists begin to return to the capital any cut in funding could hit essential services, particularly in areas such as street cleaning, refuse collection, and community safety.

Cllr David Boothroyd, Westminster City Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance and Council Reform said:

At a time of soaring inflation these Lost Londoners really do matter, especially in the funding we get from the Government.

The Office for National Statistics have agreed that the figures were taken at an unusual time and will be adjusting the Mid-Year Estimates (MYE) to take that into account.

But there can be no escaping the fact that the information gathered by the Census does not represent Westminster’s actual population and this will have long-term implications for Westminster and other inner-city local authorities.

We are engaging in field research to determine the number of properties that have been reoccupied since the Census was taken and would welcome further work with ONS to determine the scale of the adjustment needed in the mid-year estimates.

The Lost Londoners Count campaign aims to highlight the fact that the Census may have been a snapshot in time, but it doesn’t bear any relation to the population of the city one year on or going forward.

CLF which includes Conservative run Kensington and Chelsea, and Aspire run Tower Hamlets as well as Camden, Islington, Haringey, Hackney, The City, Wandsworth, Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham said it was backing the campaign.

Cllr Elizabeth Campbell, Chair of Central London Forward and Leader of Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, said:

This is not just a statistical exercise. London’s local authorities receive billions of pounds of funding every year from central government, with the amount we get based in large part on our population.

The census took place in the middle of the Coronavirus lockdown, at a time when London’s population had dipped temporarily, but substantially.

London’s population is bouncing back again. We are keen to work with ONS and with central government to ensure that the figures used to calculate local authority funding accurately reflect central London’s population. We must ensure that these ‘Lost Londoners’ do not lead to lost funding for the capital, and further pressure on local authority budgets.

London was particularly hard hit by the Census figures because of the large number of young people, EU nationals, and transient population.

Find out more about the Lost Londoners Count campaign.

Notes to Editors:

  • Westminster’s Mid-Year Estimate 2020: the last published figures from the ONS before the Census - 269,848
  • ONS are taking the figures from the 2011 Census to give their drop of 6.9% in Westminster