Number of non-religious people in Britain jumps by 46%, new figures show

9 April, 2019

The number of non-religious people in Britain has jumped by 46%. Photo by Priscilla Du Preez.

The number of people in Britain who say they have no religion has increased by a staggering 46% over the past seven years, making non-religious people the fastest growing group in the country, according to new figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The data from the ONS, taken from the Annual Population Survey, show the number of non-religious people has increased by nearly a half since 2011 to 39% of the population, with nearly 8 million more people now saying they have no religion. 

Humanists UK, the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people, welcomed the new findings and called on the Government to take heed of the latest figures by better representing non-religious people in government policies.

The results also showed a 15% decline in the number of people who say they are Christian (all denominations). People who said they were Muslim grew by 22%, Jewish 17% and Hindu 13%.

But Humanists UK also raised concerns about the leading question used in the survey which asked ‘What is your religion?’ It has been advocating for the Census question and other survey questions on religion and belief to change to ‘What is your religion, if any?’, as the existing question tends to overestimate religious belief, acting as a measure of weak cultural ties rather than religious belief. The British Social Attitudes Survey, which uses a two-part question, records 52% of British people have no religion.

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented: ‘It is not surprising that the number of people who have no religion has increased by nearly a half over the past seven years. This is line with other evidence that shows more than 52% of British adults are non-religious.

‘The growth of the non-religious has been the biggest demographic shift in Britain in recent decades, and these figures underline the need for Government to tackle entrenched religious privilege in our social institutions and create fairer policies that represent everyone, regardless of religion or belief.’

In the UK, entrenched religious privilege includes, to name a few, government-funded religious schools with discrimination in admissions, compulsory collective worship in all schools, prayers in Parliament, and 26 voting places for Church of England in Parliament.


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Press Manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at or phone 020 7324 3078.

See our previous news item, ‘Latest British Social Attitudes Survey shows Church of England hit record low’

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.