How many Russians are there in London: what will the 2021 census reveal?

In the UK there is a population census every 10 years, and this time it falls on March 21, 2021. This census is carried out by The Office for National Statistics and applies only to England and Wales, since in both Scotland and Northern Ireland statistics are collected by other organisations — National Records of Scotland and Northern Ireland Statistics Agency. The results of the census are very useful for many social organisations, as they make it possible to come up with the overall picture of the country’s population, but they also provide an answer to a rather popular question: how many Russian speakers are there in the UK?


Census results are not just interesting statistics, but crucial data used by many organisations aimed at aiding the population. It is thanks to the census results that various charitable and social organisations, and even government agencies, determine how to allocate funding and what projects are needed for different regions, districts, and communities. To take part in the census, it is not at all necessary to carry British citizenship — if you are in the UK for more than 3 months, then you are required to pass the census by law, otherwise you could be fined up to £1,000! Each household receives an individual number by mail, which can be used to fill out a questionnaire on the official census website.


By the way, it is thanks to the data that was collected during the census that one can learn such interesting statistics as the number of Russian speakers in London and in the UK in general. Many might have heard that London is sometimes also called “Londongrad” and “Moscow-on-the-Thames”, which is definitely for a reason — there indeed is a large Russian-speaking community in the British capital. However, the data varies greatly: from unconfirmed and unrealistic 770,000 people to statistically verified 36,000 people. Let’s try to figure it out.


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Most reports and conferences mention that there are about 300,000 Russian-speaking London residents — this figure does not only include Russian immigrants, but also those Russian speakers, who come from the countries of the former USSR. At the same time, according to some sources, the 2011 census showed that only 36,313 immigrants from Russia live throughout England, with 687 in Wales, 2,180 in Scotland and 349 in Northern Ireland. It also mentions that London alone is home to 26,603 Russian speakers out of these 36,313.

However, the influx of Russian speakers has greatly increased over the past 5-7 years and, of course, these numbers have changed. So, in 2014, The Guardian published statistics, according to which there are approximately 150,000 Russian-born London residents; however, already in 2017, The Office for National Statistics announced that about 195,000 Russian-speaking immigrants permanently reside in the UK.

Now these numbers, of course, have changed again, and it is only possible to obtain up-to-date reliable data via conducting a new census. Undoubtedly, there will always be a small error in the findings: for example, the respondents may sometimes not mention their second/third language in the questionnaire and indicate that they are “white British only”, while, at the same, still preserving their national identity at home. However, this error is usually small and does not greatly affect the picture.


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It is worth noting that, perhaps, the census this year will be “cleaner” than in previous years: due to the pandemic, there are hardly any people living in the UK on tourist visas. Therefore, we are waiting for the publication of the official data of the new census (it is usually published in a year) to determine the current size of Britain’s Russian-speaking community.

Do not forget to submit your details before March 21, this is will only take 10 minutes of your time! More information on the 2021 census is available here.



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