Social Aspects of Living in Leicester

With a population rapidly approaching 300,000, Leicester is the largest city in the East Midlands and is in the top 20 cities in England by size of population. The ratio of males to females is 51% to 49%. Leicester is unusual in having a high proportion of its population aged under 35; the largest group by age is those under 15 years old, who represent 20% of the population. Leicester is also the most ethically diverse city, 36% of its population is Black, Asian or from other ethnic minority backgrounds. Nationally these figures are about 13% for both sexes. .

According to the 2001 National Census the actual population of the city stood at just under 280,000. The census cites 64% of the population as being white, 30% Asian, 3% Black, 1% Chinese and 2% being of mixed ethnicity. Life expectancy for those living in Leicester is lower than the national averages with the average for a male being 73.6 years and a female 79 years. Nationally these figures are 75.7 and 80.4 years respectively.

Leicester has a mixed housing stock of a little over 110,000 dwellings. 25% of these dwellings are detached houses or bungalows. The proportion of dwellings that are flats of one description or another is around 20%, with the remainder of the accommodation being terraced or semi-detached housing. 33% of these dwellings or households are inhabited by single people, compared to national average of around 30%. 9% of the properties are inhabited by lone parents, whereas the national average is 6%. Whilst almost 60% of all the housing is owner occupied, in Leicester the proportion of rented properties at 40% is considerably higher than the national average at 29%. Some of this could be accounted for by the high proportion of student properties in the city, which is reported as being 10%, compared to the national average of 7%.

Socially 55% of the population of Leicester are said to be ‘middle-class’, falling into the C1 and C2 bands. 27% fall into bands D and E and as such are defined as ‘working-class’ with the remaining 19% being labelled as being in band A and B. Over 75% of the working population are in full-time employment.

With an estimated workforce of around 112,000, Leicester city workers are not great commuters. Over 60% live with 3 miles (about 5 km) of where they work and over three quarters of them live within 6 miles (about 10km) of their work-place. With approximately 91,000 vehicles between the 110,000 dwellings in the city, over half of those vehicles are used to commute in. Only 17,000 use the bus to get to work but, encouragingly, there is a high proportion of people who walk to work.

From the census Leicester would appear to be a healthy place to live, with only around 10% of the population feeling they were not in good health.

How safe is Leicester to live in or visit? Crime figures for the city do not look good, on a per 1000 of the population basis. Violent offences against a person are recorded at 40, compared to a national average of 16.5; household burglaries are 10 against the national average of 6.4; theft from a motor vehicle at 13 is three above the national average and robbery offences are also nearly triple the national average, at 4 per 1000 of the population.

As a large city Leicester city’s schools do not fare well in national attainment tables. The city has 86 Primary, 16 Secondary and 10 Special schools. In the 2006 Achievement and Attainment tables at Key Stage 4 (Secondary schools) the percentage of pupils scoring at least 5 GCSEs at grade C or above was 33.5% for the Local Authority compared to a national average of 45.8%. For Primary schools at Key Stage 2 attainment in the three core subjects at Level 4 or above was English 72%, Mathematics 69% and Science 80%. The Local Authority figures are 7% below the national average in all three subjects. However, for both sets of statistics, some schools returned excellent results, as can be seen in their ‘value-added’ scores.

Leicester has two universities, Leicester University and De Montfort University.

Leicester University was inaugurated in 1921 but it wasn’t until 1957 that the university was given full degree awarding powers with its Royal Charter. It was founded by the local philanthropist Thomas Fielding-Johnson after the First World War, as a living memorial to the fallen of that war. The University’s motto is “So that they may have life”. Leicester University is ranked 24th in the ‘Good Univerities Guide’ (GUG).

In 1969 Leicester Polytechnic was established by the amalgamation of the old Technology and Art colleges. In 1992 the Polytechnic was given university status and De Montfort University was founded. De Montfort is 89th in the GUG out of 100 universities.