England, Wales home to 271,000 Jewish citizens - census

The Jewish community consists of 0.5% of the population, according to the census. In 2011, 265,000 citizens identified as Jewish – this is just a small increase, as opposed to other religions.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews stand in a street in the predominantly Jewish neighborhood of Stamford Hill in the UK (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Ultra-Orthodox Jews stand in a street in the predominantly Jewish neighborhood of Stamford Hill in the UK
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A total of 271,000 people living in England and Wales identified as Jewish in 2021, according to a National UK Census.

The Jewish community consists of 0.5% of England and Wales, according to the census. In 2011, 265,000 citizens identified as Jewish – this is just a small increase, as opposed to other religions. 

The areas with the highest proportions of people describing their religion as “Jewish” were Hertsmere (17.0%) and Barnet (14.5%) in London. The religion question in the census was voluntary; 94.0% (56.0 million) of usual residents answered the question in 2021, an increase from 92.9% (52.1 million) in 2011.

Less than half of people in England, Wales identify as Christian

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; despite this decrease, “Christian” remained the most common response to the religion question. “No religion” was the second most common response, increasing by 12.0 percentage points to 37.2% (22.2 million) from 25.2% (14.1 million) in 2011.

The Union Jack, the flag of the United Kingdom. (credit: Rian Ree Saunders/Wikimedia Commons/JTA)The Union Jack, the flag of the United Kingdom. (credit: Rian Ree Saunders/Wikimedia Commons/JTA)

There were increases in the number of people who described themselves as “Muslim” (3.9 million, 6.5% in 2021, up from 2.7 million, 4.9% in 2011) and “Hindu” (1.0 million, 1.7% in 2021, up from 818,000, 1.5% in 2011).

Wales had a greater decrease in people reporting their religion as “Christian” (14.0 percentage point decrease, from 57.6% in 2011 to 43.6% in 2021) and increase in “No religion” (14.5 percentage point increase, from 32.1% in 2011 to 46.5% in 2021) compared with England and Wales overall.

London remains the most religiously diverse region of England in 2021, with over a quarter (25.3%) of all usual residents reporting a religion other than “Christian”; the North East and South West are the least religiously diverse regions, with 4.2% and 3.2%, respectively, selecting a religion other than “Christian.”

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) also released a new report on Tuesday titled “Jews in Britain in 2021: First results from the Census of England and Wales” exploring the first results from the 2021 census question on religion, following the data released by the Office for National Statistics.

Some of the key findings in the JPR report on Jews in Britain specify that:

Jews are the sixth largest religious group in England and Wales in 2021, after Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. They were the fifth largest religious group in 2001 and 2011. London accounts for 53.6% of the total Jewish population of England and Wales in 2021, with 145,466 Jews living there, compared to 149,789 in 2001 and 150,329 in 2011.

“Today’s Census release provides invaluable information on the Jewish population in England and Wales," the Board of Deputies of British Jews said in a press release. “These Census results also raise the question on whether the continued narrow focus of the Census recognizing Jewish status as a religion with the exclusion of considering Jewish ethnicity explicitly is appropriate for a 21st-century Jewish community. We are concerned that until this situation is rectified, many Jewish citizens will not feel fully counted.”

"Today’s Census release provides invaluable information on the Jewish population in England and Wales."

Board of Deputies of British Jews