2021 Census: Overview

A Census or population count has taken place once a decade in England and Wales since 1801 (except 1941) and is the only time every person and household is counted right across the UK.  The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is responsible for the census in England and Wales, and carried out the most recent in March 2021. The Census remains the largest single source of social statistics in England and Wales, and so release of the data will be in a number of stages.

The first set of data was released in June 2022, and for local authorities includes usually resident population by age and sex, the number of occupied households and population density. The second topic released on 2nd November covers demography and migration data, and includes household composition, country of birth and migration.

Further data will be released throughout autumn and winter 2022/23, based on key topics. The provisional dates of release by ONS are as follows:

  • labour market and travel to work - 8th December 2022
  • housing - 5th January 2023
  • sexual orientation and gender identity - 6th January 2023
  • education - 10th January 2023
  • health, disability and unpaid care - 19th January 2023
  • Area profiles will also be released late in 2022, to allow users to view statistics from across different topics for a particular area and compare local statistics for an area against national statistics.

    You can access national data as it is released on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) website.

    You can also view a visualisation of the latest data for Sandwell.



    Population Change

    The 2021 Census estimates that Sandwell has 341,900 residents, a rise of 11.0% since 2011. This compares with a rise of 6.3% in England and Wales. The previous Census in 2011 saw a reverse of the declining population trend experienced since 1971. The latest Census sees the population of Sandwell growing to an even higher level than that in 1971.

  • The 11% rise in Sandwell since 2011 is the highest in the West Midlands Metropolitan County area, the next highest being in Coventry (8.9%). The county and the region overall have seen rises similar to the national growth.
  • Of the 341,900 residents in Sandwell in 2021, 168,200 are male and 173,600 are female.

    There are now 130,200 households in Sandwell, compared to 121,500 in 2011 - a rise of 7.2%.

  • The population density in Sandwell stands at 3,996 people per square kilometre in 2021, compared to 3,600 in 2011.
  • Population Structure

    Sandwell’s population in terms of broad age bands is shown in this graph.

  • Between 1991 and 2001, the actual numbers of over 65s in Sandwell fell. However, there has been an increase since 2001, and people over pensionable age now make up 14.5% of all residents, compared with 16.5% in 2001.
  • The proportion of the population aged 20 to pensionable age has risen by 11.2%, and now makes up 58.2% of Sandwell's population, a rise from 56.8% in 2001.
  • The number of under 20s has been steadily rising since 2001, with a 13.1% increase between 2011 and 2021.

    In terms of 5 year age-bands, the largest increases have been amongst those aged 55 to 59 (+34.2%) and 50 to 54 (+28.4%).

  • Two other age groups have also seen rises of over 20% - 10 to 14 years (+26.2%) and 5 to 9s (+21.8%).
  • There have been slight falls in the numbers in a few age groups -  25 to 29s, 4 & under, and 20 to 24s (-2.5%, -2.1% & -1.9% respectively).

    You can download the 2021 Sandwell & England data by age and gender here.

    The pyramid shows the population structure of Sandwell in 2021, compared with England. As you can see, the population structure of Sandwell is much younger than England overall.

  • There is a larger proportion of the population aged under 20 in Sandwell.
  • The proportion aged 30 to 49 is also much larger compared to England.
  • The proportion of the population aged 50 and over in England is much larger than in Sandwell, particularly in the 65-69 and 70-74 age groups.
  • Households

    There are 130,246 households with residents in Sandwell, a rise of 7.2% since 2011.  The average household size in Sandwell is 2.42, which slightly above the England & Wales average of 2.4.

  • 339,791 Sandwell residents live in households, whilst 2,041 live in communal establishments (managed residential establishments).

    In terms of household composition, in 2021, 38,042 households in Sandwell are made up of only one person.

  • There has been an increase of 2.0% in the number of married or civil partnership couple households since 2011, whilst there has been a large percentage increase in the number of cohabiting couple households (+15.8%).
  • The proportion of lone parent households (with dependent children) has increased from 9.0% in 2011 to 9.4% in 2021. Sandwell ranks 15th out of 331 Local Authorities on this indicator.
  • There has also been a large rise in the number of lone parents with non-dependent children (+31.4%), although these only account for 5.5% of all households.

    62.1 % of households in Sandwell are deprived in at least one dimension or measure of household deprivation (compared with 51.7% in England & Wales); this number has decreased since 2011, when it was 69.5%.


  • In 2021, 5,844 people in Sandwell reported that they had previously served in the UK armed forces (2.2% of usual residents aged 16 years and over). This compares with 3.8% in England & Wales.
  • Of the UK armed forces veterans in Sandwell, 72.3% (4,224 people) previously served in the regular forces, 23.5% (1,375 people) in the reserve forces, and 4.2% (244 people) served in both the regular and reserve forces.
  • 2% of Sandwell armed forces veterans lived in households (rather than communal establishments).
  • There were 5,644 Sandwell households (4.3%) with one or more persons who had served in the UK armed forces, compared with 6.5% in the West Midlands Region.
  • Country of Birth & National Identity

  • In 2021, almost one in four (23.6%) usual residents of Sandwell were born outside the UK, compared with one in six nationally. This proportion puts Sandwell in the top 50 Local Authorities across England & Wales. In 2011, 15.9% of Sandwell residents were born outside the UK.
  • India remained the most common country of birth outside the UK in 2021 (23,530 people, 6.9% of all usual residents). Relatively large proportions of Sandwell residents were born in Pakistan (2.3%) and Bangladesh (1.3%).
  • The number of people who were born in Poland grew by 12.5% since the previous census, from 5,670 in 2011 to 6,380 in 2021. The number born in Romania rose by almost 1200%, from 210 in 2011 to 2,710 in 2021.
  • 47,670 usual residents (13.9%) held a non-UK passport; one of the most common non-UK passport held was Polish (6,860, 2.0% of all usual residents).
  • 2,620 usual residents (0.8% of the population) had an address outside the UK one year before the census, up 11.4% from 2,350 (0.8%) in 2011.

    In 2021, 84.6% of Sandwell usual residents identified with at least one UK national identity (English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish, British, and Cornish); this compares with 90.3% in England & Wales.

  • People who identified with at least one UK and one non-UK identity accounted for 1.6% of the overall population, compared with 2.0% in England & Wales.
  • Those selecting a non-UK identity accounted for 13.5% of the overall population (46,170), compared with 9.7% nationally.
  • Among those who described a non-UK national identity, the most common response was those describing “Indian” only as their identity (3.1%, 10,600).
  • “Polish” only was the second most commonly reported non-UK national identity in Sandwell (1.6%, 5,540), and “Italian” the third (1.3%, 4,570).
  • Ethnic Group & Language

  • In 2021, 57.3% (195,620) of usual residents in Sandwell identified their ethnic group within the high-level "White" category, compared with 81.7% in England & Wales. Sandwell has seen a decrease from 69.9% in the 2011 Census.
  • As part of the "White" ethnic group, 52.1% (177,930) of the total population in Sandwell identified their ethnic group as "English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish or British" (compared with 74.4% in England & Wales), this is a continued decrease from 65.8% in 2011, and from 78.0% who identified this way in 2001.
  • The next most common high-level ethnic group was "Asian or Asian British" accounting for 25.8% (88,020) of the overall population, this ethnic group also saw the largest percentage point increase from 2011, up from 19.2% (59,260 people).
  • Across the 19 ethnic groups, large changes were seen in the numbers of people identifying their ethnic group as "Other ethnic group: Any other ethnic group" (3.4%, 11,710 in 2021, up from 1.3%, 3,880 in 2011), and " Black, Black British, Caribbean or African: African" (3.7%, 12,670 in 2021, up from 1.4%, 4,400).
  • In Sandwell, 10.6% (13,840) of households consisted of members identifying with two or more different ethnic groups, an increase from 9.1% (11,035) in 2011.

    Where respondents selected they identified as one of the “other” ethnic groups within each broad category, they were able to write in their ethnicity. This has enabled ONS to produce a detailed ethnic group classification, providing insight for 287 ethnic groups.

  • In Sandwell, the largest of these groups in 2021 are “Sikh”, accounting for 2.3% of the population, and “Polish” (1.7%).

    In 2021, 83.6% (274, 710) of Sandwell usual residents, aged three years and over, had English as a main language, compared with 91.1% in England & Wales. The Sandwell figure is down from 88.0% in 2011.

  • In 2021, a further 5.2% (17,230) of the overall population were proficient in English (saying they speak it very well) but did not speak it as their main language.
  • The most common main languages spoken in Sandwell, other than English were: Panjabi (6.4%), Polish (1.7%), Bengali (1.0%) and Urdu (1.0%).
  • The largest increase was for people who specified Punjabi as a main language, who accounted for 6.4% (20,980) of usual residents in 2021, up from 4.3% (12,520) in 2011.
  • In 2021, 11.3% (14,750) of households consisted of members who had different main languages.
  • Religion

  • The religion question is voluntary; 94.6% of Sandwell’s usual residents answered the question in 2021, an increase from 93.9% in 2011.
  • For the first time in a census of England and Wales, less than half of the population (46.2%) described themselves as “Christian”, a 13.1 percentage point decrease from 59.3% in 2011. This pattern was mirrored in Sandwell, where 39.9% (136,350) residents described themselves as “Christian” in 2021, compared with 55.2% (170,075) in 2011. Despite this decrease, “Christian” remained the most common response to the religion question.
  • “No religion” was the second most common response in Sandwell, increasing by 7.4 percentage points to 26.1% (89,100) from 18.7% (57,720) in 2011.
  • There were increases in the number of people who described themselves as “Muslim” (45,760, 13.4% in 2021, up from 25,250, 8.2% in 2011) and “Sikh” (39,250, 11.5% in 2021, up from 26,930, 8.7% in 2011).