Population of Suffolk grows 4.4% in past decade, census shows

Blank UK Census form

The 2021 census revealed Suffolk's population rose by 4.4% - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Suffolk's population has increased by 4.4%  32,100 people — in the past decade, and the county's high numbers of older people will put more pressure on public services, an MP has said. 

The figures, released on Tuesday by the Office of National Statistics, signal a slowdown in population growth in the county over the past 10 years. 

The previous census in 2011 showed the number of people living in the county rose by 9%. 

The statistics showed the total population in Suffolk rose from 728,200 in 2011 to 760,300 in 2021.

The East of England as a whole saw the highest rate of population growth, up 8.3 per cent, or 488,000 residents, from 2011.

The 2021 survey, carried out on March 21 last year, came against the backdrop of both Brexit - which has seen restrictions on immigration - and the coronavirus pandemic.

Across Suffolk, Mid Suffolk saw the largest population percentage increase of 6.2%, rising from 96,731 in 2011 to 102,700 in 2021. 

This was followed by West Suffolk, which saw a 5.3% increase on 2011, jumping from 170,756 to 179,800 in 2021. 

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Babergh saw a 5.2% increase of 4,560 people from 87,740 to 92,300 while Ipswich rose from 133,384 in 2011 to 139,700 in 2021 (4.7%). 

East Suffolk saw the smallest percentage rise in population in the county of 2.6% - from 239,552 in 2011 to 245,900 in 2021. 

The 2021 figures also revealed there are 11,400 more women and girls than men and boys in Suffolk, with 50.8% of the county's population female and 49.2% male. 

Men and boys only outnumbered women and girls in West Suffolk (90,000 versus 89,800) - which was one of only 13 local authority areas where this was the case. 

In terms of ages, East Suffolk remains very attractive to retirees, with the area topping the list in the county and also ranking 18th out of 331 local authorities in England and Wales for the highest population of people aged 65+ (68,300). 

East Suffolk also saw the highest increase in the 65+ age bracket, up 27.8% in the past 10 years. 

Babergh (26.4%) and Mid Suffolk (25.3%) also saw big rises in the 65+ age bracket since 2011. 

Waveney MP Peter Aldous said he was hopeful the region would be in the lowest of the three tiers Pic

Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, said the county's aging population will put more pressure on services - Credit: Archant

Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, said the county's aging population will mean increased pressure on services and called for more national funding. 

He said: "Population in the East of England has gone up significantly, Suffolk may not have gone up quite as much but I think generally we are getting more people moving to our area. 

"I think when you break it down, we have an aging population and with more people living here, and with more older people, there is increased pressure on public services and infrastructure.

"Something we'll probably be looking at in parliament in the next few months will be funding formulas for local government and if we've got more people living in our area, particularly of an older demographic, that is putting increased pressure on our services. That needs to be reflected in the funding formula. 

"There is also pressure on things like infrastructure, doctors' surgeries are under the microscope a great deal at the moment, we need more doctors in the area, that in itself is a particular challenge.

"More of the national funding pot does need to be made available to our area.

"We are an area that is increasingly popular to live in and I think that is a trend that has set in and will probably continue over the next couple of decades."

Nationally, the population of England and Wales increased by 6.3% to 59.6 million in the last decade. 

The previous census in 2011 showed the number of people living in England and Wales rose by a record 7.1% in a decade.

The national figures showed nearly one-in-five people (18.6%) is aged 65 and over, up from 16.4% in 2011.

The ONS figures also revealed that 51.0% of the population is female, and 49.0% is male. This is a change from 50.8% female and 49.2% male in 2011.

Bobby Bennett, cabinet member for equality and communities at Suffolk County Council, said: “The data from the census is important to the work we do here at Suffolk County Council.

"It helps us to develop policies and plan services such as schools, health and roads. It also helps us to allocate out funds to where they are needed the most.

“Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the census last year, we will analyse the results and the data will help to inform our work going forward.”

Cllr Bobby Bennett

Cllr Bobby Bennett - Credit: Suffolk County Council

The census takes place across the UK every 10 years and provides the most accurate estimate of all the people and households in the country.

Its results are used by a range of organisations including governments, councils and businesses, and underpins everything from the calculation of economic growth and unemployment to helping plan schools, health services and transport links.

Data from the 2021 census for England and Wales will be published in stages over the next two years, the ONS said.
Future releases will include figures on ethnicity, religion, the labour market, education and housing plus - for the first time - information on UK armed forces veterans, sexual orientation and gender identity.

The census was taken at a time when coronavirus restrictions were still in place across the UK, with people only allowed to leave their homes in England for recreation and exercise outdoors with their household or support bubble, or with one person outside their household, and the rule-of-six on outside gatherings not coming into place until the end of March.