People commuting further but more staff working from home

There is more traffic on motorways but less on rural main and minor roads.

There is more traffic on motorways but less on rural main and minor roads. - Credit: PA

People are travelling further to get to work but the number of commuters is falling as more staff work from home, according to official figures.

Based on Census statistics, the average distance travelled to work in England and Wales increased from 8.3 miles in 2001 to 9.32 miles in 2011.

Those living in the Midlands and south-west England had the largest increase in average distance travelled between 2001 and 2011 – going an extra 1.36 miles.

In 2011, commuters living in the east of England travelled furthest (10.34 miles) while Londoners had the shortest average commutes at 6.83 miles.

The number of people working mainly from home increased from 9.2% in 2001 to 10% in 2011, with another 8% having no fixed place of work or working offshore.


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As a result, only 81% made a regular commute in 2011 compared with 86% in 2001.

In both 2001 and 2011, men commuted further than woman. In 2001, 39% of men and 25% of women commuted more than 6.2 miles (10km). By 2011, the rates of commuting such distances had increased to 42% for men and 30% for women.

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With the exception of those living in London, workers in managerial and professional occupations were more likely to commute 12.4 miles (20km) or more. The difference with other occupation groups was not so noticeable for London residents, where skilled trade workers were most likely to commute 12.4 miles or more.

Full-time workers commuted longer distances in 2011 than their part-time counterparts. While 55% of part-time workers commuted less than 3.6 miles (5km), 38% of full-time workers did the same.

The figures came from the Office for National Statistics, which also revealed that the number of people aged 16 to 74 living in London who cycled to work more than doubled between 2001 and 2011, from 77,000 to 155,000.

The numbers cycling to work in Brighton, Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield all increased by more than 80%, while in Cardiff there was a 65% rise.

But the figures also showed that the numbers cycling to work declined in more than half (202 out of 348) of local authorities across England and Wales since 2001.

Taking into account the increase in working residents since 2001, the share of people cycling to work in 2011 remained virtually unchanged at 2.8%.

Cycling to work was most frequent among men and most common in Cambridge. It was least common in Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales.

AA spokesman Luke Bosdet said: 'These latest figures seem to confirm the trend shown in recent Department for Transport traffic statistics – that UK business is recovering and getting on the road, the workers much less so.

'Although economic recovery has lifted motorway traffic 2.9% since the boom period of 2007, last year's traffic on rural main roads was down 2%, urban main roads was down 4%, rural minor roads was 6% lower and traffic was 4.3% lower on urban minor roads.

'Much of this is due to the lag between inflated pump prices and wages that have failed to keep pace.

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