94.6% of Somerset’s population are ‘White British’. This proportion is typical of that seen in Somerset’s neighbouring local authorities but much higher than the England and Wales average (80.5%). Somerset’s non-‘White British’ residents tend to be concentrated in and around the county’s principal towns.
The BME (Black and Ethnic Minority) population of Somerset was estimated at 10,717 in 2011, an increase of around 5,000 people since the 2001 Census. The BME population now comprises 2.0% of Somerset’s overall population, which is well below the national average of 14.0%.
Somerset has seen a large increase in Polish-born residents since the accession of the A8 East European countries to the EU in 2004. Of the 8,171 East European-born residents recorded in the 2011 Census, around two-thirds were from Poland.
Polish is the most common ‘non-UK’ ethnicity in all Somerset’s districts, and Polish-born residents now account for 1% of Somerset’s overall population. There are significant pockets of residents in parts of Shepton Mallet, Yeovil, Minehead, Taunton and Bridgwater.
The size of the Portuguese population in Somerset has also increased markedly in the last ten years, from 53 residents at the time of the 2001 Census to 965 residents in 2011. There are now notable groupings of Portuguese residents in areas of Chard and Shepton Mallet.
India and the Philippines account for the highest numbers of Asian-born residents. Information about the Philippines was not published in the last Census but Somerset has seen an eightfold increase in residents of ‘Other Asian’ ethnicity since 2001, of which new residents from the Philippines are likely to be a key factor. Wellington, Minehead and Taunton have small pockets of Filipino residents.
At a broader (district) level, there are also noteworthy, albeit small, concentrations of Italian people in Mendip; Chinese in Taunton Deane; and people from the Baltic States in Sedgemoor. West Somerset has a small representation of ‘Other Eastern European’ ethnicity, notably Hungarians in Minehead..
There are established German, Irish and South African-born populations in Somerset, each accounting for between 0.3% and 0.5% of the county’s overall population. The numbers have not changed significantly since the 2001 Census. These residents are generally found throughout the county, with no particular local concentrations.
There are an estimated 733 Gypsy or Irish Traveller residents in Somerset, the second highest number of any local authority in the South West. Just over a third are resident in Mendip.
An estimated 20,912 Somerset residents do not identify themselves as British (or English, Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish). A total of 20,329 Somerset residents hold a non-UK passport.
Around 22% of residents have no passport, which is above the England and Wales average.
In over 97% of Somerset households, English is the main language of all adult residents. However, there are an estimated 3,404 households (13,599 people aged 3 or more) in which no one has English as a main language.
Around 4 out of 5 residents whose main language is not English can speak English ‘well’ or ‘very well’. An estimated 2,382 residents can not speak English well, and a further 410 cannot speak English at all.