Local facts and figures

Waltham Forest is home to an estimated 278,400 residents as of March 2021 and 102,900 households with at least one usual resident (ONS, Census 2021). This represents an increase of 7.8% in the population, since the 2011 census, when the population of the borough was estimated to be 258,200.

The median age of residents is 35 years compared to the England average of 40 years. 

Waltham Forest has a population density of 7173 people per square kilometre i.e., the number of usual residents per square kilometre.

Our borough is one of the most diverse areas in the country. An estimated 47% of residents are from a minority ethnic background. 

According to the 2021 Census, the top three countries of origin for residents born overseas are Pakistan 4% (11,035), Romania 4% (11,015), and Other EU countries 3.5% (9700). 

The top five languages spoken locally other than English are Romanian, Urdu, Bulgarian, Polish, Turkish and Spanish.

94% of enterprises in Waltham Forest are micro businesses employing fewer than 10 people. 

As of September 2023, 143,600 (71.3%) of working age residents between the ages of 16 to 64 are in employment as either employees or self-employed. This is lower than the figure for London which stands at 74.6% and lower than the England average of 75.8%. (Nomis, 2023)

In 2023, the median weekly earnings for full-time working residents was £764.80 per week. This was lower than the median income for London £796.30 and higher than the median income for England £682.60 (Nomis, 2023)

According to the 2019 Indices of Deprivation, Waltham Forest has a deprivation score of 25.209, it is ranked number 12 most deprived out of all London Boroughs (excluding the City of London) and number 79 most deprived out of all 317 authorities in England. (LG inform

The average Life expectancy in Waltham Forest in 2022 is 78.5 years, which is in line with the England average of 78.8 years. (ONS

The median house price in the borough as of March 2023 was £525,000, an increase of 63% since March 2015. (ONS)


According to the Census 2021 population estimates by the Office of National Statistics, Waltham Forest is home to a total of 278,400 people. 

Waltham Forest has a younger than average population with 24.5 per cent of residents aged 0 to 19 compared to 23.7 per cent in London and 23 per cent nationally. Like London, Waltham Forest also has a higher proportion of working-age adults aged 16 to 64 (69.6 per cent compared to 68.9 per cent in London and 62.9 per cent nationally). There are proportionately fewer people aged over 65 living in Waltham Forest (10.1 per cent) when compared to London (11.9 percent) and the UK average (18.6 per cent).

Table 1 Census 2021 population estimates by broad age group.

Source: Office for National Statistics, Census 2021

Age GroupingWaltham ForestWF %LondonLondon %EnglandEngland %
0-4                 19,000 6.8%           529,000 6.0%          3,232,000 5.4%
5-9                 17,400 6.3%           531,500 6.0%          3,524,600 5.9%
10-19                 31,800 11.4%        1,024,800 11.6%          6,990,700 11.7%
20-64               181,800 65.3%        5,671,100 64.4%        34,786,900 58.4%
65-89                 27,200 9.8%           992,600 11.3%        10,533,900 17.7%
90+                   1,200 0.4%             50,800 0.6%             529,500 0.9%
Total               278,400         8,799,800          59,597,600  

Please note all sums are rounded to the nearest 100.

Population Projections

The Greater London Authority (GLA) 2021 round of population projections estimate that the Waltham Forest population will increase from 276,350 residents in 2021 to a total of 287,800 by 2026, an increase of 11,450 (4.1%). The fastest growing group is projected to be those aged 18 to 21 (13.5%) and 65+ (15.5%).

Table 2 GLA borough preferred option (BPO) 2019-based housing-led population projections (based on the submitted development trajectory for Waltham Forest, medium migration scenario)

Age Grouping20212026Total changePercent change

By 2050, there is expected to be 321,930 people living in Waltham Forest, an increase of 45,580 people (16.5%).


Waltham Forest remains in the top 20 most diverse areas in the country.  In 2021 an estimated 47% of residents are from a minority ethnic background a slight decrease from 48% in 2011. In 2021 Waltham Forest ranked as the 18th most diverse borough in England and Wales in comparison to 2011 when it ranked as the 10th most diverse.

In 2021, 53% (147,000) of usual residents in Waltham Forest identified their ethnic group within the high-level "White" category, a slight increase from 52% (135,000) in the 2011 Census. When at the same time the total population of White people in England and Wales recorded a decrease of nearly 5%.

In 2021, as part of the "White" ethnic group, 64% (95,000) of the total population in Waltham Forest identified their ethnic group as "English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish or British", this is a continued decrease from 69% (135,000) in 2011, and from 90% (127,000) who identified this way in 2001.

The most common high level ethnic group after “White” at the latest Census 2021 results was Asian, Asian British, or Asian Welsh accounting for 20% (55,500) of the overall population in Waltham Forest, although percentage point decreased by 1.2 points since 2011.

Across the 19 ethnic groups (excluding White British), the largest percentage point increase was seen in the number of people identifying themselves as "White: Other White" category (17%, 46,400 in 2021, up from 15%, 37,000 in 2011) and "Other ethnic group: Any other ethnic group" (5%, 13,300 in 2021, up from 3%, 7,000 in 2011).

Ethnic group (6 categories)Observation% of total
Asian, Asian British or Asian Welsh55,54520%
Black, Black British, Black Welsh, Caribbean or African41,64715%
Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups17,9836%
Other ethnic group16,2266%

Source: ONS, Census 2021, Waltham Forest

Country of birth and nationality

In Census 2021, 39% of the Waltham Forest’s residents were born outside of the UK.  Of this figure, 4% around 11,000 residents were born in Pakistan, this is down from 4.9% in 2011.  The number of Waltham Forest residents born in Romania rose from around 4,300 in 2011 (1.7% of the local population) to just over 11,000 or 4% in 2021. 

According to the Census 2021, the top 10 countries of birth of the residents in Waltham Forest (with United Kingdom excluded) are as follows:

Waltham Forest – Top 10, Census 2021

Country of birthObservation%
Other EU countries96543.50%
Rest of Europe: Other Europe70922.50%
All South American countries31471.10%
Other South and Eastern Africa31341.10%

Source: ONS, Census 2021, Waltham Forest

In 2021, 77.9% (216,940) of usual residents identified with at least one UK national identity. This is very similar to the rest of London (77.5%) but much lower than for England and Wales (90.3%).

Those who identify themselves with a non-UK identity accounted for 22.1% (61,487) of the borough population, decreased from 25% in 2011 (64,000).

According to the Census 2021, the top 10 national identities of Waltham Forest residents (with United Kingdom excluded) are as follows: 

Please note that National identity is a different measure from Country of birth.

Top 15 National Identities in Waltham Forest - Census 2021

National identity (detailed) Observation% of Observation
UK identity: British only identity16502559.3%
UK identity: English only identity210737.6%
UK identity: English and British only identity169906.1%
UK identity: Other identity and at least one UK identity107103.8%
Other identity only: European: EU countries: Other member countries70872.5%
Other identity only: European: Non-EU countries: Other European51681.9%
Irish only identity26791.0%
Spanish (including Canary Islander)20270.7%
Other identity only: European: EU countries: Other member countries in March 200119370.7%
Other identity only: European: EU countries: Portuguese17310.6%

Source: ONS, Census 2021, Waltham Forest

 Maybe we should clarify that this is different to country of birth discussed above?


Within the Census 2021 the question regarding religion was voluntary; 93% (19,500) of usual residents in Waltham Forest answered the question in 2021, a proportion that remained stable since 2011.

For the first time in a census of England and Wales, less than half of the population (46.2%, 27.5 million people) described themselves as “Christian”, a 13.1 percentage point decrease from 59.3% (33.3 million) in 2011. A similar trend is recorded in Waltham Forest, although Christianity remains the main religion with 39% (109,000) of residents identifying themselves as Christian, a 9-percentage point decrease from 48% (125,000) in 2011. “No religion” was the second most common response, in Waltham Forest, it increased by 10 percent to 28% (78,000) from 18% (46,500) in 2011.

The proportion of Muslim residents in the area remained unchanged since 2011 with almost a quarter of residents (22%, 60,000) identifying themselves as Muslims in 2021 (compared to 6.5% nationally).

Waltham Forest – Census 2021

No religion7773928%
Not answered195487%
Other religion28101%

Languages spoken in the borough.

The top 10 languages spoken locally other than English are Romanian, Urdu, Bulgarian, Polish, Turkish, Spanish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Italian and Tamil. 

In Census 2021, about one in five residents aged three and over (22 per cent) does not speak English as their main language compared to 7 per cent nationally. A large majority of residents, (about 95 per cent), can speak English well or very well. About 5 per cent of the borough's residents (13,134 people) have said that they do not speak English well or at all.

Table 3 Top 10 languages other than English spoken in Waltham Forest

Top 10 Waltham Forest - Census 2021

Main language (detailed), 3years and overObservation% of total

 Source: 2021Census, Office for National Statistics: 

Self-reported health and disability

The 2021 Census asked people to rate their health as very good, good, fair, bad or very bad. The data shows that a total of 12,200 residents of Waltham Forest considered their health to be bad or very bad. This is equivalent to 4 per cent of the population, down from 5 per cent who said in the 2011 Census that they did not have a good health.

As many as 36,762 residents said in the census 2021 that their day-to-day activities are limited because of their health. This is made up of 6 per cent of population who said their day-to-day activities were limited a lot (15,933 people) and 7 per cent whose activities were limited a little (20,829). In total, this adds up to 13 per cent of residents compared to 17 per cent nationally.

Health tends to deteriorate further with age with 42 per cent of population aged 65 and over (10,906) having a limiting long-term health problem or disability.

Waltham Forest's Health Index score increased in 2021.  The Borough has an overall Health Index score of 104.1, which is up 3.6 points compared with the previous year.

(A score of 100 represents average levels of health in England in 2015. A higher number always means better health and a lower number means worse health).

Waltham Forest ranked around average among local authority areas in England for health in 2021.

Source: Health in England: 2015 to 2021, Office for National Statistics:


The census 2021 question on sexual orientation was a voluntary question asked of those aged 16 years and over. It’s the first time that sexual orientation is asked as part of the Census and therefore comparison with the previous Census is not possible.

  • 4.5% of the 16+ population identified themselves as LGTBQ+

Waltham Forest’s sexual orientation breakdown of the population aged 16 years and over is following London’s average trends.

  • 90.5% answered the sexual orientation question.
  • 9.5% did not answer the sexual orientation question.
  • Around 191,000 people (86%) identified as straight or heterosexual.
  • Around 5,000 people (2.3%) identified as Gay or Lesbian.
  • Around 3,600 people (1.6%) identified as Bisexual.
  • Around 1,000 people (0.4%) identified as Pansexual.
  • Around 122 people (0.1%) identified as Asexual.
  • Around 200 people (0.1%) identified as Queer.
  • Around 100 people (0.1%) choose “All other sexual orientations”.
  • The remaining 21,100 people (9.5%) did not answer the question.

Brighton and Hove recorded the highest proportion (10.7%) of people 16+ that identified themselves as LGBTQ+ nationally. In London, City of London (10.3%) and Lambeth (8.3%) had the highest proportions of population identified as LGBTQ+.

Waltham Forest is ranked 31st nationally amongst LAs with high proportion of LBTQ+ population for people aged 16 years and over and 13th amongst London local authorities.

Local businesses

According to the 2022 UK Business Counts, Waltham Forest currently has a total of 12,935 businesses which are VAT and/or PAYE (Pay as You Earn) registered.  (NOMIS)

The largest industry group in the borough is construction (18% of the businesses), significantly higher than the average for London as a whole (10.7%).  This is followed closely by professional, scientific, and technical (14%), lower than the average for London (18.7%) and retail (11%), slightly higher than the London average (9%).

A large majority (91%) of businesses in the borough are so-called micro-businesses with less than 10 employees. A further 7.4% are small businesses with 10-49 employees and only 1.4% of businesses employing 50 or more people.

35% of the businesses in Waltham Forest have a turnover between £100,000 and £249,000, compared with 31.3% for London.  This is followed by 25% with a turnover of £50,000-£99,000, compared with 20.6% for London and 14.5% with a registered turnover of up to £49,000, compared with 15.8% for London.


The English Indices of Deprivation 2019 (IoD 2019) replace and update the 2015 indices as the Government’s primary measure of deprivation published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Waltham Forest's deprivation score is 25.209, which means it is ranked number 12 out of all London Boroughs (excluding the City of London) and number 79 out of all 317 authorities in England. 

LG Inform


In Waltham Forest, there are currently 51 primary schools, 15 secondary schools, and 2 All-through schools. In total, there are approximately 45,000 pupils in Waltham Forest. There are almost twice as many primary school students as there is secondary.

According to the Department for Education, Waltham Forest’s Key Stage 2 or SATs results (pupils at the end of year 6, when most are age 11) in the academic year 2022/23 showed that 70% of pupils reached the expected standard in reading, writing and maths (combined), while 14% reached a higher standard. Both are above the England average (60% and 8%), as well as the London average (67% and 12%).

Source: Department for Education (DfE):

For KS4 (GCSE), in the academic 2022/23, the average attainment 8 score of all pupils in Waltham Forest was 45.7. This is lower than the London score of 50.6, and lower than the England average (state-funded schools) score of 46.3.

Of the 2,700 students entering English and Mathematics GCSEs, 46.8% achieved grade 5 or higher. This is above the England average of 45.3%.

Waltham Forest and London : Department for Education (DfE)

England (All state-funded) Source Department for Education (DfE) :

In the academic 2022/23, for all state-funded schools and colleges (All state-funded students), the percentage of students achieving at least 2 substantial level 3 qualifications was 92.7% for England, compared with 88.7% for Waltham Forest. For those doing A-levels, the percentage of students achieving at least 2 A levels is 86.0% for England, compared with 84.0% for Waltham Forest.

Source: Department for Education (DfE):

According to the Annual Population Survey of September 2023, 34.3% of young people aged 18 to 24 in Waltham Forest are in full time education. This is lower than the London figure of 41% for the same variable.


Employment and unemployment

According to the ONS’s Annual Population Survey, the employment rate for the working-age population aged 16 to 64 in the 12 months to Sept 2023 was 71.3 per cent, close to the London average of 74.6 per cent. With about 143,800 residents in employment of self-employed, this is on par with the pre-pandemic rate of 73.9 per cent (March 2020). (NOMIS)

The Claimant Count is the stock of Universal Credit and Job Seekers Allowance claimants. Prior to Covid19, Waltham Forest had relatively low levels of universal credit claimants (3.3%), just slightly above the London average (0.4% difference in January 2020). Since then, the number of claimants steadily rose to 6.1% (11,855 residents) as of January 2024 which is 1.1% higher than the London average (5.0%).   (ONS)

As of 2022, there were 95,000 total jobs in Waltham Forest (total jobs include employees, self-employed, government-supported trainees and HM Forces)

As of 2022, Waltham Forest has a job density of 0.49, (The density figures represent the ratio of total jobs to population aged 16 to 64).  This is lower than both the London average of 1.07 and the England average of 0.87.  (NOMIS


According to the Annual Population Survey, home ownership levels in Waltham Forest have been steadily increasing over the past decade. 30.4% (~31,250) of homes are bought through a mortgage, loan or shared ownership (higher than the London average of 26%), with 20.2% (~20,800) being owned outright (in-line with London at 21%).  An estimated 21.5% of households are rented from the Local Authority or a housing association.  (ONS)

As of 2023, Waltham Forest had over 9,100 households on the local Authority waiting list. (London Datastore)

As of 2022, the housing affordability ratio of Waltham Forest is 16.5.  (Housing affordability estimates are calculated by dividing house prices by annual earnings to create a ratio.) The ratio of average house prices to average earnings more than doubled from 5.69 to 13.61 between 2002 and 2018. This now makes housing in Waltham Forest less affordable than in London as a whole, which has created a pressing need for affordable housing for people living in overcrowded conditions, the homeless and for people who wish to live independently.

Property prices are rising rapidly across London, and Waltham Forest is quoted as one of the boroughs with the fastest rising prices. Between March 2013 to March 2018, the median  price of a house in Waltham Forest almost doubled, increasing from £245,400 to £450,000, a rise of 83.7 per cent. According to the ONS, the median house price in Waltham Forest in March 2023 is £525,000.

Between the first and third quarters of 2022, there were 300 permanent dwellings completed in Waltham Forest.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities


Between January 2023 to December 2023, a total of 26,714 offences were recorded in Waltham Forest by the Metropolitan Police, an average of 2,226 offences per month.  This is an increase of 1.8 per cent on the previous year.

The top three types of offences in Waltham Forest in the year up to and including December 2023 were:

Violence Against the Person (25% of all crime)

Theft (21%)

Vehicle Offences (13%).

As of the end of December 2023, crime rate has risen by 1.8% when compared to the previous 12 months ending December 2022.  This increase is significantly lower than the increase recorded in London, where the rate of offences rose by 6.5% for the same period.

Between January 2023 to December 2023 there were 96.5 offences per 1,000 of the population, this is less than the London average of 115.4 offences per 1,000 of the population.   Metropolitan Police crime data dashboard

According to the Metropolitan Police Service Public Attitude Survey for Q1 2023-24, 38% per cent of residents agreed that the police do a good job in the local area. This figure is significantly lower than the London average of 48% for the same period.

The latest crime statistics are on Metropolitan Police crime data dashboard

Other Data Sources

There are many publicly available data sources which cover demographic, social and economic trends in Waltham Forest and can be used to compare our borough to other areas.

The following list and links are not exhaustive, but many key statistics not covered on this page can be found at the following websites.

London Datastore - The Greater London Authority website dedicated to research and analysis specific to London.

NOMIS - Nomis is a service provided by the ONS, giving detailed and up-to-date access to UK labour market statistics and Census statistics. Includes labour market profile for Waltham Forest, and easily downloadable data on population, employment, qualifications, earnings, benefit claimants and businesses.

GOV.UK Statistics - Official statistics published by the UK government. Search by government department on by key word. 

Public Health England Data Portal - A single point of access to data and analysis tools from across Public Health England. This includes general health profile for Waltham Forest, specific mental health and learning disability profiles, and information on lifestyle risk factors, disease prevalence and wider determinants of health.

Fingertips (Public Health England) - These profiles are a rich source of indicators across a range of health and wellbeing themes that has been designed to support JSNA and commissioning to improve health and wellbeing and reduce inequalities.

Children's Local Area Interactive Tool - An interactive spreadsheet for comparing data about children and young people across all local authorities in England. 

Health and Social Care Intelligence Centre - The national provider of information, data and IT systems for health and social care. Includes data tool in NASCIS (National Adult Social Care Intelligence Service).

London's Poverty Profile - London's Poverty Profile uses official data to reveal patterns in poverty and inequality.