Labour say that the alleged Westminster population decline runs counter to other official statistics and could lead to cuts to Council services of £8 million a year, and over £80 million over 10 years.
According to Labour, there are 4,800 more households paying Council Tax than acknowledged in the Census figures. In addition, there are 238,000 patients registered with Westminster GPs. Labour say that the Westminster population is more likely to be around 245,000 – over 25,000 more than the ONS claim.
Westminster’s Labour councillors say that this is the second successive Census that has undercounted the Westminster population. In 2001 the Census claimed that there were just 182,000 Westminster residents. This was increased by 17,500 after ONS acknowledged that it had made a series of accounting mistakes. If these mistakes had not been acknowledged and rectified by ONS, it would have cost Westminster residents £50 million in lost Government grants.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group, said”
“The 2011 Westminster Census figures are obviously wrong. Everyone who lives in Westminster know that there are more people living here than in previous years. There are more homes being built, more young people at school and more people registered with their local doctor. The ONS have obviously bungled and have got it wrong. They need to make public all their information, assumptions and calculations so that these can be carefully scrutinised. The ONS has ‘form’ on this. They got it wrong in 2001 and, ten years later, they have got it wrong again”.”
“Undercounting the Westminster population by over 25,000 people will be hard on the most vulnerable residents as it will result in the loss of up to £80 million of Government grant over 10 years. At a time of growing poverty, increasing unemployment and massive public service cuts, we cannot allow services to be cut any further, particularly as a result of bureaucratic bungling by ONS”.
However, the figure of 245,000 that Labour say are living in Westminster may be too low. Westminster City Council’s own estimate is 253,000 — so the undercount could be nearer to 33,000 people. That’s a huge disparity.