Ethnicity in North Yorkshire: what the 2021 Census is telling us

8 February 2023

At our latest Equality and Inclusion Partnership meeting we heard from Gary Craig, visiting professor from Newcastle upon Tyne University. Gary kindly shared his analysis of ethnicity across North Yorkshire from the 2021 Census.

Read what Gary has to say:

“Ethnic minorities have lived and settled in North Yorkshire ever since the Romans set up shop at, for example, Aldborough, on the paved roman road from Otley. When I first started working in the county about 30 years ago, its minority ethnic (BAME-i.e. non-White British) population was still only around 2% – although there were a few schools (in Northallerton, Skipton, Harrogate and Scarborough) where the BAME pupil population was about 4-5% because of a small concentration of minorities in certain workplaces such as hospitals and colleges. The BAME population in the county was effectively invisible because it was scattered and very diverse, with very few people of any particular ethnicity.

This proportion has, however, grown steadily since then and the recent 2021 census shows that the minority ethnic population of North Yorkshire county is now around 7%: that is one in fourteen of the population or, in numerical terms, getting on for about 50,000 people. That is a sizeable number.

The increase is, of course, partly due to natural growth – children in 2001 are adults now; partly due to minorities working on the periphery of the county – in Teesside, Durham, Leeds, Bradford and York for example – but living within the boundaries of North Yorkshire; and partly reflecting economic change. Some industrial sectors have been associated with a minority workforce, for example hospitality and leisure (hotels and restaurants), health and social care, and agriculture and food production.

In parts of the county, the proportion of minorities in local populations is substantially greater than 7%, usually for specific reasons. Examples of wards with much higher levels include:

  • Castle ward in Scarborough (15%) – one in seven
  • Selby East (14%)
  • Skipton West (Craven 14%)
  • Central Harrogate (18%) – almost one in five
  • Hipswell (Richmondshire 13%)
  • and Malton in Ryedale (10%).

Only Hambleton bucks this trend with Northallerton and Sowerby wards showing a 6% minority population – the former notable given it is effectively the county’s administrative centre. The minority population is very diverse with no one minority dominating the BAME population except for ‘other white’ – a legacy of the pre-Brexit situation. Only the Pakistani Kashmiri population of Skipton bucks that particular domination.

This data gives the county’s organisations insight and detail to respond to this growth; and avoid effectively invisibilising particular groups of people. Now may be the time to respond.”

Further conversations take place at the Equality and Inclusion Partnership meetings so if you want to be part of the discussion and join the group email

If you find this data useful and are able to use it in your work, or if you would like further details on your area, please inform Professor Gary Craig, Professor of Social Justice, Visiting Professor, University of Newcastle upon Tyne