The latest analysis of 2011 census data in England and Wales, published today by University of Manchester researchers, has revealed the first local authorities outside London where no ethnic group is in the majority.
The research by the University's Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) shows the towns of Slough and Luton and the city of Leicester are now 'plural'. Birmingham could join them in the next seven years.
The team, who also find that 23 of London's 33 boroughs are plural, say towns and cities labelled by politicians as 'segregated' are in reality the most diverse.
In the three local authorities, substantial numbers of Irish, Eastern European and other White populations have rendered their White British populations, though still large, as minorities for the first time.
However, the White British population is still the largest in every local authority except Tower Hamlets and Brent, where it is the second biggest.
In addition, the research funded by CoDE and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation finds:
- The number of England and Wales residents who have a British national identity is six million more than the number who tick White British as an ethnicity.
- Authoritative indices show that 'segregation' has decreased, and that residential mixing of ethnic groups has accelerated in the past ten years
- Britain's towns and cities are not becoming less British. 81% of Luton's residents have a British national identity while 45% are of the White British ethnic group.
- Towns and cities labelled by politicians as segregated are in fact the most diverse. For example Bradford and Leicester both have more than a thousand residents from each of 15 ethnic categories measured in the census, and over 30,000 residents from diverse groups that the census labels as 'Mixed' or 'Others'.
- Increased diversity over a decade is small but steady: every local authority except Forest Heath has increased its diversity since 2001.Newham is the most diverse local authority in England and Wales
- 1 in 8 households have multiple ethnicity: people with different ethnicity in the same household
- Minority populations are growing fastest outside their well-known concentrations, changing the geography of Britain.
"These and all other towns and cities in England and Wales are already diverse with many different ethnic minorities.
"These findings should now put to bed the arguments of those people in politics and the media who say the British identity is somehow under threat by a segregated society."
He added: "This research has an important context: local government deals with ethnic and cultural diversity everyday in rural and urban neighbourhoods and those with powerful organisations to represent them and those without.
"So we need to understand changing ethnic composition to understand our citizens' changing needs.
"Housing, school meals, care of older people, cultural and entertainment facilities, funeral services and many other aspects of local services are all intrinsically affected."
Explore further: A bigger melting pot: What the census really tells us
The briefing and a 'profiler' for each local authority is available on request and from 10 Jan at www.ethnicity.ac.uk/census/.