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Statistics about the borough

Local facts and figures

Last updated: 10 November 2022

Local facts and figures

  • Waltham Forest is home to an estimated 278,400 residents as of March 2021 and 102,900 households (ONS, Census 2021)
  • The median age of residents is 35.6 years compared to the England average of 40.2 years.
  • Our borough is one of the most diverse areas in the country. An estimated 53% of residents are from a minority ethnic background.
  • The top six countries of origin for residents born overseas are Romania (11,000), Hungary (6,000), Poland (6,000), Bulgaria (5,000), and Lithuania (5,000) and Pakistan (5,000). (ONS 2019)
  • The top five languages spoken locally other than English are Urdu, Polish, Romanian, Turkish and Lithuanian.
  • 94.3% of enterprises in Waltham Forest are micro businesses employing fewer than 10 people.
  • As of June 2022, more than 145,000 working age residents (74.3%) are in employment (Nomis, 2022)
  • The median annual earnings for full-time working residents is £36,000 (Nomis, 2021)
  • Waltham Forest is currently ranked 82nd most deprived borough nationally according to the 2019 Index of Multiple Deprivation (an improvement from 35th in the 2015 edition, and 15th most deprived in the 2010 edition).
  • Life expectancy in Waltham Forest is like the England average – 79.4 years for men and 83.8 years for women
  • Life expectancy in Waltham Forest is similar to England’s average – 79.8 for male and 83.2 for female ,  average life expectancy for Waltham Forest is 81.5 years 
  • The average house price in the borough as of March 2022 was £500,000, an increase of 51% since 2015, (ONS, 2022


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 being aged 0 to 19 compared to 23 per cent in London and 23 per cent nationally. Like London, Waltham Forest also has a high proportion of working-age adults aged 16 to 64 (70.8 per cent compared to 70 per cent in London and 64.2 per cent nationally). There are proportionately fewer people aged over 65 living in Waltham Forest (10 per cent) compared to London (12 percent) and the UK average (18 per cent).

Table 1 Census 2021 population estimates by broad age group

Source: Office for National Statistics, Census 2021

Age Grouping

Waltham Forest

WF %


London %


E %


















































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 18-21 (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 Grouping



Total change

Percent change




































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


The only official counts relating to ethnicity come from the Census 2011. From the 2001 to the 2011 Census, the proportion of White British/Irish residents fell from 58 per cent to 38 per cent in Waltham Forest, while the share of all other ethnic groups increased. In comparison, the average proportion of White British/Irish residents in London is 47 per cent and in England and Wales as whole it is 81 per cent.

Most notably, the White Other group that includes arrivals from EU accession countries has more than doubled in recent history from 6 per cent to 15 per cent. The percentage of residents from an Asian background has also increased from 15 per cent to 21 per cent as has the number of Black/Black British residents from 15 per cent to 17 per cent.

The ONS releases annual estimates of persons broken down by ethnicity, taken from the Annual Population Survey. Estimates as of 2018:

  • 142,000 White - includes White British, Irish, Gypsy or Irish Traveller, and Other
  • 43,000 Black - includes Black African, Caribbean, and Other
  • 44,000 Asian - includes Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese and Other
  • 48,000 Mixed/Other - includes White and Black Caribbean, White and Asian, White and Black African, Other Mixed, Arab and any Other ethnicity not covered above.

Please note that White and White other are merged, unlike in the Census data mentioned previously.

Ethnic Group Projections

The GLA ethnic group projections are produced for London boroughs and provide detailed projection by 17 ethnic groups of London’s future population.

Waltham Forest is one of the most ethnically diverse areas in London. 146,880 (53%) persons are from a BAME background (other than White British/Irish), compared to 58% in London as a whole. Overall, White British/Irish is the largest ethnic group, accounting for 86,980 persons in the borough (32%), compared to 42% in London. This is followed by Other White (56,450, 20%), Pakistani (33,260, 11.5%), and Black African (22,550, 7.8%).

Ethnicity Aggregated ethnicity Broad ethnicity 2020 2025 Total change Percent change
Arab Other Other 6,240 7,280 1,040 16.7
BAME BAME BAME 146,880 157,640 10,770 7.3
Bangladeshi Bangladeshi Asian 6,230 6,930 700 11.1
Black African Black African Black 22,550 24,250 1,700 7.5
Black Caribbean Black Caribbean Black 18,340 18,450 110 0.6
Chinese Chinese Asian 3,050 3,210 160 5.2
Indian Indian Asian 10,830 11,670 840 7.8
Other Asian Other Asian Asian 12,180 12,520 340 2.8
Other Black Black Other Black 7,960 8,330 370 4.6
Other Ethnic Group Other Other 8,420 9,200 780 9.2
Other Mixed Other Other 6,340 7,200 860 13.6
Other White Other White White 56,450 62,900 6,440 11.4
Pakistani Pakistani Asian 33,260 36,340 3,080 9.3
White & Asian Other Asian Asian 3,470 3,810 340 9.7
White & Black African Black Other Black 2,640 2,720 90 3.4
White & Black Caribbean Black Other Black 5,380 5,730 350 6.5
White British White White 82,870 81,150 -1,730 -2.1
White Irish White White 4,110 4,120 10 0.3

Country of birth and nationality

According to the ONS, the top 5 countries of birth (with United Kingdom excluded) are as follows:

Country of birth Thousands
Romania 11
Hungary 6
Poland 6
Bulgaria 5
Lithuania 5

The top 5 nationalities (with British excluded) are as follows:

Nationality Thousands
Romania 9
Hungary 6
Pakistan 6
Lithuania 5
Poland 5


The borough also has a diverse range of faith communities. According to the 2011 Census, Christianity remains the main religion, with 48 per cent of residents identifying as Christian. Although this proportion has decreased from 57 per cent in 2001, this is mostly due to increases in other groups as the absolute number of Christians has remained static. Almost a quarter of residents (22 per cent) are Muslims (compared to 5 per cent nationally), the proportion having increased from 15 per cent in 2001. There has also been a small increase in the proportion of people who identify themselves as secular (15 per cent to 18 per cent). The next update to religion statistics will come from the Census 2021, with the data released likely in 2022 onwards.

Recent arrivals

Data from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on those registering for a National Insurance number (NINo) is useful in estimating the scale of recent arrivals into the borough. This data needs careful interpretation as it is only a measure of inflow and does not consider those who have subsequently left the borough.

A total of 3,160 NINo registrations were recorded in the borough in 2020, a large decrease of 7,547 on the previous year. This is also the lowest figure since records began in 2002. Whilst NiNO registrations were previously driven by the lifting of transitional controls for EU2 nationals (migrants from Romania and Bulgaria) in January 2014; the forthcoming Brexit, paired with COVID-19 travel restrictions meant that registrations have been minimal for 2020.

In 2020, 61 per cent of new migrants are from Europe compared to 53 per cent a decade ago, while 18 per cent are from Asia, 9 per cent from non-EU countries, and the remaining 18 per cent from the Rest of the World. The top three nationalities arriving to Waltham Forest in 2020 were Romanian, Bulgarian, and Italian.

All the previous and future releases on NINo registrations are available on the GOV.UK website. Further information is also available from the Department for Work and Pensions Stat-Xplore resource.

Languages spoken in the borough

About one in four residents aged three and over (26 per cent) do not speak English as their main language compared to 8 per cent nationally (2011 Census). The majority (78 per cent), however, can speak English well or very well. About 6 per cent of the borough's residents (14,250 people) have said that they do not speak English well or at all. The next update to this data will be in the 2021 Census.

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

Source: 2011 Census, Office for National Statistics

Main language Total
Polish 8,030
Urdu 8,020
Romanian 4,030
Turkish 3,870
Lithuanian 3,170
Panjabi 2,970
Tamil 2,350
Bengali 2,350
French 2,300
Bulgarian 2,165

Self-reported health and disability

The 2011 Census asked people to rate their health as very good, good, fair, bad or very bad. The data shows that a total of 13,500 residents of Waltham Forest considered their health to be bad or very bad. This is equivalent to 5 per cent of the population, down from 9 per cent who said in the 2001 Census that they did not have a good health.

In addition, the 2011 census asked people if they had a health problem or disability that has lasted or was expected to last for at least 12 months and which limited the person’s day-to-day activities, either a little or a lot.

As many as 37,600 residents said in the census that their day-to-day activities are limited because of their health. This is made up of seven per cent of population who said their day-to-day activities were limited a lot (17,900 people) and eight per cent whose activities were limited a little (19,700). In total, this is 15 per cent of residents compared to 18 per cent nationally.

Health tends to deteriorate further with age with more than half of residents aged 65 and over (57 per cent) having a limiting long-term health problem or disability.


Experimental statistics on sexual orientation in the UK in 2018 released by the ONS suggests that more people are identifying as LGBT than previous. In 2018, an estimated 94.6% of the UK population aged 16 years and over (53.0 million people) identified as heterosexual or straight. This represents a continuation of the decrease seen since 2014, when 95.3% of the population identified themselves as heterosexual or straight.

Table 4 Sexual Orientation, as a percentage, UK, 2014-2018.

Source: Office for National Statistics – Annual Population Survey

Sexual orientation 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Heterosexual or straight 95.3 95.2 95.0 95.0 94.6
Gay or lesbian 1.1 1.2 1.2 1.3 1.4
Bisexual 0.5 0.7 0.8 0.8 0.9
Other 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.6
Do not know or refuse 2.8 2.6 2.5 2.3 2.5

People in London were most likely to identify as LGB (2.8%) than any other region. This would equate to an estimated 7,800 people in Waltham Forest.

Local businesses

According to the 2022 UK Business Counts, Waltham Forest currently has a total of 12,235 businesses which are VAT and/or PAYE registered.

The largest industry group in the borough is construction (19.2% of the businesses), followed closely by professional, scientific and technical (15.7%) and retail (10.3%).

Of the top 5 industries, construction has a higher share of businesses in Waltham Forest (19.2%) than in London as a whole (11.5%). This is a similar picture for retail (10.3% compared to 8.7%).

A large majority (94.3%) of businesses in the borough are so-called micro-businesses with less than 10 employees. Further 5.1% are small businesses with 10-49 employees and only 1% of businesses employ more than 50 people.

35% of the businesses in Waltham Forest have a turnover between £100,000 and £249,000, followed by 25% with a turnover of £50,000-£99,0000 and 16% with a registered turnover of up to £49,000. This is in line with London's average picture on turnover breakdown.

According to FAME, there is a total 12,553 businesses that aren’t VAT and/or PAYE registered in the borough and therefore the total number of active businesses operating in the area is summarised to 24,778. Please note that Businesses in the UK need to register for VAT if their VAT taxable turnover is more than £85,000.


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 is relatively less deprived in 2019 compared to 2015, improving rank from the 35th most deprived local authority in England to the 82nd most deprived out of 317 local authorities.

In London, Waltham Forest now ranks 12th most deprived borough - an improvement from the 7th most deprived in 2015 - and is relatively less deprived in all seven deprivation domains.


In Waltham Forest, there are currently 51 primary schools, 15 secondary schools, 30 children centres, 4 “16 plus”, 3 nurseries and 2 All-through. In total, there are 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 SAT results (for pupils aged 7 to 11) in the academic year 2019, 72% of pupils reached the expected standard in reading, writing and maths, whilst 15% reached a higher standard. Both are above the England average (65% and 11%), as well as the London average (71% and 14%).

For KS4 (GCSE), the Average Attainment 8 score of all pupils in Waltham Forest was 46.2. This is higher than the inner London score of 45.6, but lower than the outer London score of 50.4. This is relatively in line with the England average score of 46.8.

Of the 1,113 students entered English and Mathematics GCSEs, 42.7% achieved grade 5 or higher. This is slightly below the England average of 43.4.

For College students, the percentage of students achieving at least 2 substantial level 3 qualifications was 85.9% for England, but 76.3% for Waltham Forest. For those doing A-levels, the percentage of students achieving at least 2 A levels is 81.4% for England, whilst 76.2% for Waltham Forest.

According to the Annual Population Survey, there is an estimated 7,600 person in Waltham Forest who are aged 18-24 and engaging in full time education. This is in-line with London levels (37.1% compared to 38.8%).

Employment and unemployment

According to the ONS’s Annual Population Survey, the employment rate for the working-age population aged 16-64 in the 12 months to June 2022 was 74.3 per cent, close to the London average of 75.8 per cent. With over 145,000 residents in employment this is on par with the pre-pandemic rate of 73.6 per cent (March 2020). Proportionally, Waltham Forest has the 21st highest employment rate in London.

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 amount of claimants steadily rose to 10.6% (19,665 residents) but has now fallen down to 5.6% (September 2022) which is 0.8% higher than the London average (4.8%).

Claimant numbers show discrepancies across Waltham Forest wards, ranging from 7.9% in Lea Bridge to 3.8% in Chingford Green. Typically, those in the south of the borough are more likely to fall into unemployment than those living in the north, as the top 10 wards by claimant rate are all located below the North Circular Road.

Waltham Forest full-time workers currently have a median income of £36,000 (data as of 2021). This is not too dissimilar from the London average of £37,500 and places Waltham Forest 19th out of 32 London boroughs (City of London excluded), an increase of 2 standings since 2020. Working residents benefit from a higher income of nearly £4,500 than their counterparts in England (average of £31,500). Compared to ten years ago, income in Waltham Forest has grown by £9,000 (34%) in nominal terms.


According to the Annual Population Survey, home ownership levels have been steadily increasing over the past decade. 38.4% (~38,600) of households are bought through a mortgage (higher than the London average of 28.3%), with 23% (~23,200) being owned outright (in-line with London at 24.4%).

An estimated 19.2% of households are rented from the Local Authority or a housing association. As of July 2020, Waltham Forest had a total of 8,250 households on the Housing Register.

On average, residents could expect to pay an estimated 14 times their annual earnings on purchasing a home in Waltham Forest. 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 who wish to live independently, living in overcrowded conditions and the homeless.

Property prices are rising rapidly across London, and Waltham Forest is quoted as one of the boroughs with the fastest rising prices. From 2013 to 2018, the average price of a house almost doubled, increasing from £245,400 to £450,000, a rise of 83 per cent. Since then, house prices have remained relatively stagnant.

Over the next 10 years, there is an estimated 20,788 homes being built across Waltham Forest. After 2024, the amount of homes being built ramps up considerably.

The level of development is not evenly distributed across the borough. Most development is centred around the South and Central areas of the borough. Lea Bridge and Leyton have the highest levels of development, accounting for over a quarter (5,962) of new homes in the next ten years. Other wards of high levels of development include Forest, Markhouse, and William Morris.


From January 2020 to December 2020, a total of 23,515 crimes were recorded by the Metropolitan Police in Waltham Forest, a decrease of 3 per cent on the year before.

The top three types of crimes in Waltham Forest in the year up to and including December 2020 were:

  • Violence Against the Person (28% of all crime)
  • Theft (20%)
  • Vehicle Offences (16%).

The borough’s monthly crime rate from January 2020 to December 2020 was 7.1 per 1,000 people, this is in line with the London average (7.1 per 1,000 people).

According to the Metropolitan Police Service Public Attitude Survey from September 2020, 52 per cent of residents agreed that the police do a good job in the local area. This is up 2 per cent on June 2020.

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.

This 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.