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Act now to end population count confusion, says city council


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Existing methods of calculating population growth are inadequate and are hitting Peterborough council tax-payers in the pocket, says Peterborough City Council.

 


Councillor John Holdich, Cabinet member for Housing, Regeneration and Economic Development, says the government’s estimates of population growth in Peterborough do not accurately reflect a substantial influx of European migrant workers, resulting in the city receiving less in government funding than it deserves.

He is calling on the government to allocate sufficient resources so that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) can speed up changes in procedures and introduce more accurate counting methods.

Councillor Holdich said: “The ONS has just revised its estimates of Peterborough’s population but the new total is still far below estimates based on local knowledge. Under present plans we could have to wait until the next national census in 2011 before an accurate picture emerges. In the meantime the government’s allocation of grant funding for Peterborough is much lower than we deserve.”

The ONS has revised its 2005 ‘mid-year’ estimate of Peterborough’s population up from 159,700 to 163,000 and raised the 2006 mid-year estimate to 163,300 – suggesting the number of people living in the city rose by only 300 in the past 12 months.

However, Councillor Holdich said the city council’s own records reveal that 500 additional pupils enrolled in Peterborough’s primary schools and 200 in secondary schools in the past year alone.

“It’s obvious that all those new pupils have parents who have also moved into the city and intend to stay for an extended period,” said Councillor Holdich. “It is also obvious that these additional residents are using of services provided by the city council and that government grants should properly reflect this population increase.

“The ONS calculations are inaccurate because they are based on inadequate sources of information. While official figures estimate that Peterborough’s population has grown by around 6,000 since the enlargement of the European Union in May 2004, our own estimates put the total around 16,000.”

The ONS says its population estimates ‘are the best currently possible’ but it has already acknowledged it needs to act to make them more accurate. Its estimates are based on a national census every ten years and are adjusted according to births and deaths. It also builds in an allowance based on an International Passenger Survey, a sample of people arriving in Britain.

However, using a United Nations definition, the ONS includes only long-term migrants, those who say they intend to stay for at least 12 months. Short-term migrants intending to stay between three and 12 months are not included. ‘Out-migration’ by people who have entered the country and then leave again are deducted from the figures after 12 months.

Now the ONS plans to consult with a number of organisations before developing a new, enlarged household survey starting in 2008 and the 2011 census.

Figures from the ONS show that 683,000 people from East European countries – two-thirds of them from Poland – applied to join the UK worker registration scheme between May 2004 and June 2007. In the three months from April to June 2007 the total was 50,000 – down from 52,000 in the previous quarter and 65,000 in the last three months of 2006.

For more information about the ONS mid-year population estimates visit: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_population/2006_MYEs_FAQs.pdf

Setember 2007 - Peterborough UK Community Website

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