A sharp increase in immigration, combined with higher birth rates among newcomers to the United Kingdom is set to make white Britons a minority in many towns and cities within 30 years, a study has said.
The watershed is expected to be reached first in Leicester, with a large Indian community, where whites will form less than 50 per cent of the population by 2020, followed by Birmingham in 2024, and by Slough and Luton soon afterwards.
Leicester's Indian population is set to rise from 22.9 to 26 per cent over the same period, with the African population increasing from 0.4 to 11.2 per cent, the study from the University of Sheffield showed.
The city has seen its white population fall from 70.1 per cent of the total in 1991 to 59.5 today, and the figure is predicted to fall below a half by around 2020.
Birmingham has strikingly different predicted trends, with the shift in the population balance led mainly by the growing Pakistani community.
The study said that record levels of immigration, combined with higher birth rates among newcomers, will tip the balance between whites and non-whites and create a string of 'superdiverse' cities where no single group will form a majority.
However, it revealed that London's [ Images ] population will still be 61 per cent white by 2026, although eight of the city's 33 boroughs will be 'plural', with no one group forming a majority.
"Regardless of future immigration patterns, it is just a matter of time until cities such as Birmingham become plural," said Sukhvinder Stubbs of the Barrow Cadbury Trust, which commissioned the study.
"Even if we prohibited another single soul from entering the country, the trends have already laid root," he was quoted as saying by Britain's Daily Mail on Monday.
In general, immigrant and ethnic minority populations in the UK will no longer be dominated by large, distinct Afro-Caribbean or Asian communities, said Danny Dorling, professor of human geography.
Instead increasing numbers will come from countries scattered across the world, from Germany [ Images ] to Guyana, from Sweden to Singapore.
"Britain is becoming ever more plural; our diversity ever more diverse," professor Dorling was quoted as saying by the daily. However, it was becoming harder for experts to generalise about trends because different cities face widely differing experiences, he said.
A recent report based on government figures showed that children with English as their first language are now in the minority in over 1,300 British schools.
Data from the Department for Children, Schools and Families showed that in 112 out of the 3,343 secondary schools, children without English as a first language make up 51 to 70 per cent of all pupils. In another 83 secondary schools, the proportion is above 70 per cent.
Similarly, in 574 out of the 17,361 primary schools in England [ Images ], children without English as a first language make up between 51 and 70 per cent of all pupils. Another 569 primaries have more than 70 per cent who count English as a second language.
The total number of schools where pupils with a first language other than English make up at least 51 per cent of the population is 1,338, the department revealed.