Changing face of Sunderland

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A SNAPSHOT of modern Sunderland shows that the population has fallen by 5,000, and there are 35,000 fewer Christians than at the beginning of the Millennium.

The 2011 census released this week by the Office of National Statistics reveals that the population of Sunderland is 275,506, compared with 280,807 at the time of the last census in 2001 –with a 48.6 per cent male population compared to 51.4 per cent female.

It means the city has the second largest population in the Tyne and Wear region, with Newcastle topping the chart with 280,177 residents.

In County Durham, the population rises to 513,242.

One of the most dramatic differences between the latest census and the last one taken 10 years ago is in Sunderland’s religious beliefs.

In 2001, 81.5 per cent of Sunderland’s population described themselves as Christians. But in 2011 that dropped to 70 per cent, with 35,000 fewer people declaring themselves as such. This is still higher than the national average of Christians, which is 59 per cent.

The second most prevalent religion in the city is Islam, with 3,650 people (1.3 per cent) declaring themselves as Muslim.

At the time the census was taken, 21.9 per cent of the city said they followed no religion.

Census data also revealed a drop in homeownership in the North East – with a 12 per cent drop in the proportion of homes owned with a mortgage in the region over the past 10 years.

The shift was put down to young people and families unable to get a foot on the property ladder. House prices in the North East are five times the average wage in the area, pushing more and more people into the private rental market. The census shows that the proportion of homes in the North East rented privately has grown by 89 per cent since 2001

Sunderland has had the largest increase in the proportion of private rented homes in the region at +124 per cent.

Housing charity Shelter’s chief executive, Campbell Robb, said: “These figures confirm that homeownership is slipping further and further out of reach in the North East, no matter how hard people work or save.

“This means young people are living at home well into their 30s, desperate to get on in life but unable to afford a place of their own. Meanwhile, more young families are stuck in rented housing under constant threat of being evicted, worrying about whether they’ll have to move again.”

Figures also reveal that Sunderland is becoming more multicultural – though it stills fall far behind the national average for diversity.

In 2001, 275,571 (98.1 per cent) of the city’s residents described themselves as white. This figure has now fallen to 261,209 which equates to 94.8 per cent. Nationally, 79.8 per cent of the population is white.

The second largest ethnic group in the city is British Bangladeshi, with 2.075 (0.8 per cent) people describing themselves as such.

Twitter: @sunechokaty

Cencus details

* The resident population of England and Wales on the 27 March 2011 was 56.1million, a seven per cent (3.7million) increase since 2001 with 55 per cent (2.1million) of this increase being due to migration. One in six people were aged 65 or over (16 per cent, 9.2million).

* In 2011, four out of every five (81 per cent, 45.5million) residents of England and Wales described themselves as being in good or very good health.

* The number of residents who stated that their religion was Christian in 2011 was fewer than in 2001. The size of this group decreased 13 percentage points to 59 per cent (33.2million) in 2011 from 72 per cent (37.3million) in 2001. The size of the group who stated that they had no religious affiliation increased by 10 percentage points from 15 per cent (7.7million) in 2001 to 25 per cent (14.1million) in 2011.

* Of the 13 per cent (7.5million) of residents of England and Wales on 27 March 2011 who were born outside of the UK, just over half (3.8million) arrived in the last 10 years.

* The number of cars and vans available for use by households in England and Wales increased from 23.9million to 27.3million between 2001 and 2011. In 2001 there were on average 11 cars per 10 households whereas in 2011 there were 12 cars per 10 households. The proportion of households with access to no cars or one car declined over the decade whereas the proportion with two or more cars rose. London was the only region where the number of cars and vans was lower than the number of households.

* In 2011 there were more people with Level 4 or above qualifications, eg Bachelor’s degree (27 per cent, 12.4million), than people with no qualifications (23 per cent, 10.3million).