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Growing population

Past trends

According to the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) mid-year population estimates (MYEs), Herefordshire has seen an overall growth of 2.1%, over the last 10 years (from 2011 to 2021), this is lower than the 6.2% seen in England and Wales as a whole.

As there have been fewer births than deaths, growth over the last 10 years has been entirely due to net in-migration (i.e. more people moving into the county than moving out) from elsewhere in the UK and abroad.

Censuses provide the most accurate estimate of the population and the MYEs are the official source of the population between censuses. The mid-2021 estimates are highly reliable, since they are the first ones based on the Census 2021.

The latest 2021 MYEs show a slower growth than the MYEs rolled forward from the previous census. This was down to an over-estimate of net migration into the county that affected most ages under 55, but especially the 25 to 44 group and children. We will get a better idea of why there were around 8K fewer than expected in Herefordshire once the ONS publish rebased MYEs from mid-2012 to mid-2020 later in the year. It is likely that the net international migration component of change will see the biggest downward revision.

Future trends

Understanding future population growth and changing age structure is important for informing resource allocation and planning.

As stated above, The Census 2021 estimates for Herefordshire show a slower growth than the MYEs rolled forward from the previous Census 2011. In the absence of a population projection based on Census 2021 data, the 2018-based projections remain the best quality projections we have available at the current time.

Considering net international migration is likely to comprise the largest component of the over-estimated population, the information provided below is based on the low international migration variant of the projection. This assumes a lower level of net international migration to England as a whole, but the proportional distribution at local authority level remains the same.

Under the low international migration scenario, the total population of Herefordshire is projected to increase by around 5% over the next 10 years - equivalent to around 1K additional residents per year. Note that this projection does not attempt to predict the impact of future government or local policies, housing development, changing economic circumstances or other factors that might have an effect on demographic behaviour.

Housing development has a strong influence on population growth and according to local housing growth targets, there is to be a minimum of around 14.5K new homes to be built between 2016 and 2031. However, around a further 1.5K dwellings were incorporated into the dwelling-led forecast to take into account other planning permissions which are granted on speculative sites, taking the total up to around 16K new dwellings over this period. Under this scenario, the population of Herefordshire could mean an increase of up to around 2K additional residents per year. However, please note that the forecasts do not factor in unmet housing growth targets over the last few years.

Further information

Further information about the future population of Herefordshire, based on the 2016 MYEs, can be found in the Future Population of Herefordshire report in the related documents box, top right.