About the area

The statistics on this page provide key information relating to West Suffolk. Detailed statistical reports about each of the 43 wards in West Suffolk can be found on our Ward reports page.

For more specific information about an area, use our 'Find my nearest' mapping tool which provides a wealth of information such as local councillors, nearest schools and NHS services as well as bin collection days.

The area of West Suffolk is a predominantly rural district in the heart of East Anglia. Well-connected with London, the rest of East Anglia and the Midlands, West Suffolk is a safe and comparatively prosperous place in which to live. It also has some beautiful and accessible countryside areas, including grassland, heath and forest.

West Suffolk has six market towns, Brandon, Bury St Edmunds, Clare, Haverhill, Mildenhall and Newmarket.

Bury St Edmunds, the largest settlement in West Suffolk, has been a prosperous town for centuries. People are drawn to its market and Georgian architecture, shops, leisure and cultural facilities.

Newmarket is known as the 'home of horseracing'. It has more racehorses, trainers, stable staff, stud farms and racing organisations in and around the town than anywhere else in the world. Racing accounts for a significant number of local jobs.

Haverhill, Mildenhall and Brandon expanded significantly in the 1970s due to the construction of new housing to accommodate families moving as part of the Greater London Council's expansion programme.

Today, West Suffolk has a thriving, diverse economy, embracing a number of business sectors. These include tourism, food and drink, life sciences and advanced manufacturing, including a number of businesses trading with the two major US Air Force bases in West Suffolk. In all of West Suffolk's towns and rural areas, many of our residents benefit from a good quality of life. However, some areas have suffered more than others from the impact of the economic downturn. Others are facing issues such as: rural isolation, a lack of skills or qualifications amongst young people, an ageing population with some in need of more specialist housing or care, poverty, or health deprivation.

Where data are not yet available for West Suffolk then figures for Forest Heath District Council (FHDC) and St Edmundsbury Borough Council (SEBC) are shown:


Latest population data for West Suffolk from Census 2021 are available on: Office of National Statistics (ONS) - West Suffolk population change, Census 2021

  West Suffolk England Source
Total population 179,800 56,489,800 Census 2021
Between 2011 and 2021 the population grew by 5.30% 6.60% Census 2011 and 2021
West Suffolk has an ageing population: % of the population aged over 65 20.7% 18.4% Census 2021
Ethnic diversity. Percentage of White (English/Welsh/Scottish/NI/British) people 86.3% 79.80% Nomis Census 2011
Percentage of people who considered themselves to be in very good health 47.6% 47.20% Nomis Census 2011

West Suffolk's population is spread across a large rural area, plus five main settlements. The distribution of the population is: villages and outlying areas 42.5%, Bury St Edmunds 23.2%, Haverhill 14.7%, Newmarket 9.3%, Brandon 5.4%, and Mildenhall 4.9%

Census 2021

Economy and skills

  West Suffolk England Source
Percentage of 16-64 year olds who were economically active 77.60% 78.80% Nomis APS Apr 21 - Mar 22
Sectors of employment. Percentage of employees working in:     Nomis Business Register and Employment Survey 2020 (BRES): open access

Business administration and support services

22.70% 8.90%
Health 12.40% 13.20%
Manufacturing 9.30% 7.70%
Retail 8.20% 9.30%
Accommodation and food services 7.20% 7.10%
Percentage of residents aged over 16 with at least NVQ Level 1 or equivalent qualifications 83.1% 87.70% Nomis APS Jan - Dec 2021
Between 2021-22, the proportion of young people achieving a 9-4 pass in both English and Maths GCSE 67% 64% (all schools)
69% (maintained schools)
DfE data published Oct 2022 for academic year 2021/22


  West Suffolk England Source
Average household size 2.28 people 2.41 people Census 2021
Between 2006 and 2016, the number of households increased by 10.60% increased by 6.20% Census 2011 and 2021
Ratio of lower quartile earnings to lower quartile house prices. Ratios are calculated by dividing house price by annual earnings; the higher the ratio the more expensive it is to buy a house 9.1 times 8.04 times ONS ratio of house price to resident based earnings. Year ending Sept 2021
Average (mean) cost of renting a home (3 bedroomed) £1,064 £996 per month GOV.UK Private rental market summary statistics April 21- March 22
Rate of homelessness 7.49 households per 1,000 6.06 households per 1,000 Statutory homelessness: Households initially assessed as homeless (owed relief duty) April 2020 to March 2022

Further information about the districts and the rest of Suffolk can be found at: www.suffolkobservatory.info