On 2 November 2022, the first migration statistics from the Census 2021 for England and Wales will be published. This will be our best estimate of the population of England and Wales by country of birth and passports held. Similar census estimates for Northern Ireland have been published by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). National Records of Scotland (NRS) will publish census estimates at a later date given Scotland's census took place in 2022. 

While the census provides the best picture of society at a moment in time every 10 years, there is a need for more timely and frequent statistics, that make the best use of all available data and enable us to understand our population and how it changes on an ongoing basis.

We are exploring provisional measures that can roll forward the Census 2021 data to produce an even more up-to-date picture. For example, using a cohort component method based on the census results and accounting for migration flows and non-UK born deaths. This method would include experimental estimates of long-term international migration flows. The next release of these experimental estimates is on 24 November 2022, when we plan to include an example of how we could measure the non-UK population for England and Wales. We will then work with our colleagues in Scotland and Northern Ireland on methods we can use to produce a UK picture. 

Discontinuing the population of the UK by country of birth and nationality series using the APS

Administrative data from HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC's) Migrant Worker Scan (MWS) linked to Pay As You Earn Real Time Information, recently used to weight the non-UK born population in the Annual Population Survey (APS), only provides information to June 2021 because of an underlying data issue with the MWS. Therefore, population growth for non-UK born and non-British nationals from the APS beyond June 2021will not represent real changes until the data issue with the MWS is fixed.  

We are transforming the way we produce population and migration statistics to make best use of all available data. The Labour Force Survey (LFS) is also undergoing a transformation to make further improvements to labour market statistics to improve quality, granularity and timeliness. 

As part of this transformation journey, we are reviewing the best methods to produce estimates of the UK population. Therefore, the population of the UK by country of birth and nationality series using the APS will be discontinued. This means the next release for year ending June 2022, scheduled for 24 November 2022, will not go ahead. Previous releases are not affected by this issue. 

We will produce provisional measures of the non-UK population, depending on user needs and working closely with colleagues in NRS, NISRA and other government departments, including HMRC and the Home Office. We will provide an update on this in early 2023. 

In the longer-term we are considering the following approaches.

Use of the DPM

This uses new methods to produce near real-time estimates of the population size. The Dynamic Population Model (DPM) will use a statistical modelling approach to draw strength from a range of data sources such as administrative and survey data. We anticipate using the DPM to support the production of these statistics from 2023.

Use of the transformed LFS instead of the APS

This could look very similar to the existing series. Based on the planned timelines, this would mean our first set of statistics using the transformed LFS would be released in autumn 2024 - allowing one full year of data collection. 

Further updates and how to get in touch

We will keep users informed of our plans and progress through regular updates on the ONS international migration webpage

Your feedback is important. We want to hear what our users need from the development of these statistics to ensure we are providing the best insights on population and migration.  

Specifically, we are interested in hearing about:

  • what data you need on the population by country of birth and nationality in the interim  

  • your needs in the longer-term 

  • your needs on the timeliness of the estimates (for example, how often do you need to access these statistics and what time difference between data capture and publication is required?) 

Get in touch by emailing pop.info@ons.gov.uk.