by Chantal Cooke
The population of the South East is projected to grow to just over 10
million by 2033, an increase of 20 per cent on 2008 and 2 percentage
points more than England as a whole.
The article, ‘Portrait of the South East’ published by the Office
for National Statistics (ONS), shows that in mid-2009 the population of
the South East stood at 8.4 million, more than any other UK country or
The portrait also includes a host of key facts and figures on
unitary and local authorities within the region’s seven counties of
Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, Kent, Oxfordshire, Surrey, and
West Sussex. Besides population, the report also takes an in-depth
statistical look at other aspects of the region for example economy,
employment, earnings, and house prices.
The number of people living in the South East increased by 1.07 million
(15 per cent) between 1984 and 2009. Between 2008 and 2009, the
population of the region increased by 0.8 per cent (about 67,000
people). This represented a slightly higher percentage increase than
nationally. Only London and the East had higher percentage increases
over this period.
In 2009, the South East’s population density was 440 people per sq km,
the third highest of the nine English regions and substantially higher
than the population density for the UK and England (255 and 398 people
per sq km respectively).
Within the region, the highest population densities, more than ten times
the average for the region, were found in the urban authorities of
Portsmouth and Southampton (5,100 and 4,800 people per sq km
respectively). Portsmouth has the highest population density of any
unitary/ local authority outside London. Both Chichester and West
Oxfordshire have population densities that are less than a third of the
regional average (143 per sq km), reflecting the rural character of
Higher proportions of older people are found in the southern and coastal
parts of the South East. The local authority districts of Rother (East
Sussex, 33 per cent) and Arun (West Sussex, 31 per cent) had
substantially higher proportions of older people than the regional
average (20 per cent).
Milton Keynes had the fastest growing population in England in the 25
years to 2009, growing by 65 per cent (94,000). Bracknell Forest and
Ashford (Kent) were the next fastest with increases of 33 and 29 per
Other key findings of the report include:
• There are nearly 3.5 million households in the South East and this is
expected to increase by about 1 million over then next 25 years.
• Housing in the region is among the least affordable in England with a
median price of £203,000 in 2009, 19 per cent above the England average.
• Average earnings in the South East were £514 per week in 2009, £25 (5
per cent) above the UK average.
• Nearly one in five of people in employment in the region were
managers or senior officials.
• In Elmbridge (Surrey) more than half of the working-age population
were qualified to NQF level 4 or above, whereas in Swale (Kent) the
proportion was less than one in five (17 per cent).
The full ‘Portrait of the South East’ article can be downloaded at: