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2011 Census: The state of the nation

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: December 12, 2012

Swansea residents are more likely to own their own home than those in English cities

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PEOPLE in Wales are more likely to feel ill, be old but own their own home than their English counterparts.

Eight of the top 10 local authority areas in the whole of England and Wales in which residents reported suffering very bad health are this side of the border.

They include Swansea, Carmarthenshire and Neath Port Talbot.

Wales also has a higher proportion of unpaid carers than the English regions, according to new 2011 Census results.

An army of 370,000 of them — or 12 per cent of the Welsh population — look after relatives and friends, 100,000 of whom provide more than 50 hours of care per week.

Wales' population has increased by five per cent to 3.1 million compared to 2001, as reported previously in the Post. Around 90 per cent of this growth was due to migration, including people moving to Wales from elsewhere in the UK, as well as international migration.

Some 20 per cent of us are aged over 65 or 85, while 35 per cent of us own a home outright — more than any of the English regions.

Pete Stokes, of the ONS (Office for National Statistics), said the high incidence of poor health, unpaid carer numbers and home ownership rates generally chimed with a high proportion of elderly people.

But Wales has also seen a marked increase in single parent families and one-person households.

Mr Stokes felt another revelation was the fact that more than 74,000 of the new 90,000 households created in Wales since 2001 were in rented rather then occupier-owned accommodation.

He added: "The story I think is most interesting is the story of religion. One in three people in Wales said they have no religion."

Wales also saw the biggest decline in people giving their religion as Christian, while other religions saw rises.

Mr Stokes that although numbers of Welsh speakers had declined by a small amount, 30 per cent of current Welsh speakers are aged under 16.

He added that the language was in better health than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

Referring to the high reporting of very bad health in Wales, Swansea GP Ian Millington said it was important to note that the data was based on people's own perceptions.

"Maybe it is something to do with the Welsh persona," he said. But he added that Wales's heavy industry legacy and "significant amount of deprivation" probably contributed to the worrying health findings.

"Chronic disease prevalence, like heart disease and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is high in Wales," said Dr Millington.

"Lifestyle can be an important contributory factor. I think that certainly there is more obesity — and we are not known as the lightest of drinkers, shall we say. But I don't think we should be blaming people for ill health."

Despite a decade of migration into — and out of — the UK, Wales's ethnicity remains overwhelmingly white and British (including Welsh) — 93.2 per cent in fact.

The corresponding figure for Swansea is 91.5 per cent. The remaining ethnic groups include other white (2 per cent), Chinese (0.9 per cent), Bangladeshi (0.8 per cent) and Indian (0.6 per cent). These Asian groups are also referred to as Asian British.

Carmarthenshire's white population meanwhile is 95.5 per cent, and Neath Port Talbot's is 96.9 per cent.

Just over half of us in Wales consider ourselves Christian, while Muslims represented 1.5 per cent of the population, with Hindu and Buddhist both 0.3 per cent.

Taha Idris, chairman of Swansea Bay Racial Equality Council, said he felt last year's census had under-estimated the true numbers of Bangladeshis in Swansea (down from 1,014 to 966).

"I feel there has been a low take-up of census forms," he said.

But Mr Idris added that the low percentage of ethnic groups in Wales proved that those who spread alarmist messages about non-whites taking over were wrong.

He said: "The people who are here are part of our society. They contribute to our society, and make it what it is."

Mr Idris added: "The world is a very small place these days — Indian-owned Tata Steel is a prime example of this."

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  • Julesbreadbox  |  December 12 2012, 2:03PM

    Who cares? This census doesn't really make one hoot of difference to anyone's daily life. If you want to know what the state of the nation is like, ask freezing pensioners, people desperately looking for work, neglected children, animal shelters who have to look after (much loved!!!) pets people have to abandon because they can no longer afford to keep them. And watch the latest edition of the nation's favourite comedy program "Prime Minister's Question Time". Food is getting more expensive by the minute, even the bare basics, e.g. flour. Rather than wasting these lovely millions on a useless census, the money should have gone into fuel aid for pensioners and other vulnerable people. Or into school projects for children to secure a warm space even before or after school while their parents are still at work. Not to mention warm libraries for people to spend at least some time in a warm surrounding. Anything, but a census that in the end will be used commercially (that is: yet again, a minority will make a profit out of private data and snooping).

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  • Philosoraptor  |  December 12 2012, 12:15PM

    Whilst I am happy that Wales is moving away from religion and that atheism is becoming the majority stance I think the issue we will have where Christianity constantly meddles with politics that affects Wales will continue because those in power are themselves religious. As a minority the opinions of atheists are suppressed and when a majority their thoughts will still be suppressed. Let's take that entertainment venue as an example, despite being situated in the centre of the city and only being open late at night and on weekends the business application was only rejected when the church raised it's objection and falsely claimed it would negatively impact school children who apparently would be walking the streets when the venue was being attended. I found it very interesting that the church didn't seem to have any problem with school children attending the night hours bar and pub district of our city at 23:00 and beyond which were the applied opening hours by the venues operator. And because the scenario described was erroneous it should not been considered as a factor. The other basis of the churches objection was that the church deemed the venue too close to it's own and I quote was a "slap in the face of God". That premise by law should not have been considered by the council because the state and all authorities are not to be influenced in any manner any religion, one of the very few points of the Magna Carta which still applies today however is all often broken by those who are elected into position. I for one am not atheist, I am agnostic and do not believe any of the religions have got it right regarding a deity nor do I know if there actually is one or more. I saw no grounds for the churches objections to have any merit whatsoever and I was offended that such objections were even considered by the council and the planning committee. With the majority of the petitioned coming from the various congregations who had the same objections the entire hoopla should not have been allowed to occur and the business should have been allowed to open and operate as applied. Yes, the original application was for something different, but the objection was to the new application to function as a strip club. Religion once again overstepped it's legal mark and interfered with the state, and the state once again failed to follow legal protocol and allowed itself once again to be influenced by religion. These are two situations that completely go against the foundation of secular democracy.

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  • Neathboy234  |  December 12 2012, 10:03AM

    Another interesting point is that the vast majority of people living here are white British, over 90%. All the time we hear in the national press how we are being swamped by incomers and other emotive words. The fact is we are NOT. The UK is no different for the rest of western Europe in it's ethnic make up. and we also have to remember that there are some 300 million people around the world with some British blood in them. At the end of the day there will only be once race on this planet, the human race. It may take a 1000 years or more but we will get there in the end

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  • Neathboy234  |  December 12 2012, 9:10AM

    The great news is that 32% of people living in Wales have no religion. Atheist author Prof Richard Dawkins has congratulated the people of Wales after nearly a third of them revealed in the 2011 census that they have no religion. Prof Dawkins said: "I congratulate the people of Wales in coming out ahead of the rest of the United Kingdom in this respect - well done." He said: "People who are educated in religion are positively encouraged not to investigate, not to think sceptically about why they are here, but instead to accept what people wrote 2,000 years ago. He also said "I guess we do need focal points for communities but you can say also that religion has been a focal point for all sorts of backward, indeed bigoted, thinking about homosexuality, about abortion, the right to die, that we're seeing at the moment."

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