Your district in facts and figures
Statistical data for West Berkshire wards and district
On this page:
- Census 2021
- English Indices of Deprivation (IoD)
- Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA)
- Nomis (official census and labour market statistics provided by the ONS)
- Office of National Statistics (ONS)
- ONS Health Index
- Public Health England
- Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA)
- West Berkshire Data Observatory
West Berkshire makes up over half of the geographical area of the county of Berkshire, covering an area of 272 square miles, and is primarily made up of chalk downlands, loosely following the River Kennet, which rises in Wiltshire and joins the Thames at Reading. The flat floodplain of this river is bordered by fairly steep slopes on each side. Most people within the district live within this valley.
The majority of the district lies to the north of the River Kennet, where the land rises to the Berkshire and Marlborough Downs. This is an area of gently rolling, chalk Downlands, classified as part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), which includes parts of all the five National Character areas.
Within the district, the M4 and the A34 meet. These roads both provide direct links to key locations in the south, including London, Reading, Southampton, Portsmouth, Bristol, Oxford and Swindon.
West Berkshire also has good rail links, with London less than an hour by train and further connections, via Reading, to all the mainline routes throughout the country. The area also has very good links to international transport, with Heathrow and Southampton airport 40 miles away, as well as the ferry terminals in Southampton and Portsmouth.
The district is administered by West Berkshire Council. The Council was created as a single tier (unitary) authority after the separation of Berkshire County Council in 1998. The boundary of the district corresponds with that of the former Newbury District Council.
The Council is made up of 43 councillors who are elected every four years by people who are registered to vote in West Berkshire. A leader and cabinet model, called the Executive, was adopted in May 2001. The district is divided into 24 electoral wards, and award can be represented by up to three Councillors.
The latest local elections were held in May 2023, and West Berkshire Council is a Liberal Democrat-run authority. You can find more information on your councillors and committee membership online.
You can see the electoral wards and information about them and their councillors on the interactive map below.
According to the Office of National Statistics mid-year estimates at mid-year 2021, West Berkshire has an estimated resident population of approximately 161,865:
- 20% (32,517) are aged 16 and under
- 61% (99,459) are of working age (16-64)
- 79% (127,258) are aged 18 and over
- 20% are aged 65 and over.
Until small area data has been verified and released from the Census 2021, we must rely on mid-year estimates from 2020. At that time, according to the Office of National Statistics mid-year estimates at mid-year 2020:
64% of the West Berkshire population (around 101,111) live in settlements along the Kennet Valley, and in the suburban areas just to the west of Reading borough.
The 2018-based projection for the number of households in 2020 is 65,638.
The largest urban areas in the district are Newbury and Thatcham, where around 69,667 (44%) of West Berkshire residents live. 31,444 (20%) of residents live in the suburban area adjoining Reading borough. Around 57,354 (36%) of people live in rural settlements.
West Berkshire has one of the most dispersed populations in the South East, with 225 people per hectare.
|Town/Area||Estimated Population (mid-2020)|
|Eastern suburban area||31,444|
In 2021, we commissioned M·E·L Research to carry out a residents' survey.
The survey included similar questions to those used in the Local Government Association's "Are You Being Served" survey, which was developed by Ipsos MORI and local authorities, so that we could compare ourselves with others who had asked the same questions.
The questions covered a broad set of topics, which were:
- satisfaction with the local area and the council
- service improvement and prioritisation
- sense of belonging, safety and community
- communication and engagement
- personal wellbeing
We use data from a variety of free, public sites to access information about our district and wards, e.g. population figures, health and police data. Data can sometimes be further sub-divided into smaller areas called Super Output Areas (SOAs), which represent about 1,500 people. These are used, for example, by the Office for National Statistics for the Census, and for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) Indices of Deprivation (IoD).
We use this data, alongside locally collated information, to improve our service delivery and compare our services and performance to other councils.
If you'd like to take a look at the source data, here are some sites you may find useful:
Data from the 2021 Census will be published by the ONS aim to publish all main Census 2021 data on the population of England and Wales within two years of the census along with analysis tools to make the information easy to access and understand. You can find the release calendar on the ONS webpage.
The ONS have produced a short video about the process behind collecting and delivering the census results and what they'll be used for.
They've also built tools and presentations to help us understand and analyse the data. You can:
- Watch an interactive slide-show that shows how the population has changed in different local authority areas and a population map game
- Create your own custom dataset by population type, e.g. household, usual resident
- View maps for England and Wales that allow you to explore data for different topics down to a local authority and neighbourhood level
- Explore datasets about how life in our district has changed since the 2011 Census
- Build a custom area profile and compare our district to England or the South East for example
- View local authority level data as simple tables and compared to national data
The English Indices of Deprivation (IoD) on the GOV.UK website, produced by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, are statistics on relative levels of deprivation in England. They were last updated in September 2019. There is a indices for local authorities dashboard, where data at local authority and neighbourhood (Lower Super Output Area (LSOA)) level can be explored. There is also a mapping tool, and a handy explanatory infographic.
Please note: the IoD can not be used to quantify how deprived or affluent a small area is.
The JSNA describes the health needs and wellbeing of people who live in West Berkshire. It uses data and evidence about the current health and wellbeing of the district to highlight the health needs of the whole community. It considers how health needs vary for different age groups, and identifies health differences in disadvantaged or vulnerable groups.
The Nomis website gives free access to the most detailed and up-to-date UK labour market statistics from official sources. It also holds all data from Census' taken in 2021, 2011, 2001, 1991, 1981, and 1961.
The ONS website provides access to data produced by the ONS, and some data from government departments and devolved administrations.
The ONS Health Index gives a rich insight into how the nation's health has changed. This data allows users to take a deep dive into the aspects that affect the health of both individuals and communities and to understand whether these might be getting better or worse.
The Police.uk website provides information on crime and antisocial behaviour in your neighbourhood. You can access and compare the latest information on a range of crime types with other neighbourhoods. You can also be able to access the details of your local neighbourhood policing team, policing priorities and information on the policing pledge.
The Public Health England website provides a snapshot of health for each local council in England, using key health indicators to enable local, regional and over time comparisons. These snapshots are designed to help local councils, and the NHS, decide where to target resources and tackle health inequalities in their local area. It is split into three categories (or domains) which describe health in its broadest terms: Healthy People, Healthy Lives and Healthy Places.
The Berkshire (including South Bucks) SHMA provides detailed information about existing and future housing needs and demand, including the need for affordable housing and a mix of housing, to meet the needs of the community. It forms part of the evidence base for the preparation of the new Local Plan.
The study was carried out on behalf of the Berkshire local authorities (Bracknell Forest Borough Council, Reading Borough Council, Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Slough Borough Council, West Berkshire Council and Wokingham Borough Council) and the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
The Stat-Xplore website provides a guided way to explore Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) benefit statistics.
The West Berkshire Data Observatory aims to bring together existing research and analysis resources, working jointly with partners to provide information and intelligence.