Census data shapes so many aspects of our lives, including the number of schools we build
The unique survey happens once a decade, providing a snapshot of every person and household in England and Wales. It also gives us valuable insights into how our society is changing – further helping to ensure public money funds the facilities communities require, now and in the future.
As usual, Census 2021 will include standard questions about people’s sex, age, work, health, education, household size and ethnicity. But for the first time in its 220-year history, the census will also ask if people have served in the armed forces, as well as voluntary questions for those aged 16-and-over about sexual orientation and gender identity.
Everyone will be asked to take part online using any digital device, including mobile phone or tablet. Census Day is Sunday 21 March, but the form can be completed as soon as people receive their access code in the post. If household circumstances change on Census Day, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), who run the survey, just need to know.
The ONS will also be providing support to anyone who wants it. This includes a free contact centre that can advise how to fill out the form, give guidance in a range of languages and accessible formats, including braille, and provide paper questionnaires to people unable to use, or access, the internet.
Kent County Council Leader Roger Gough said: “The census is the biggest data-gathering exercise in the country and it tells us lots about ourselves – from the size of our population to how we heat our homes to our faith and education.
“Given the changes created by the pandemic, and by leaving the EU, the 2021 Census is a particularly significant one and everyone counts.
KCC Leader Roger Gough
“Numerous organisations, including local authorities like Kent County Council, emergency responders and charities, use census information to help to inform decisions on key services such as healthcare, education and transport. Given these things matter to us all, and are the foundations on which our communities function, we urge everyone to complete the questionnaire.”
Because it is such an important fact-finding project, taking part in the census is a legal requirement and, following Census Day, ONS field officers will visit homes that have not submitted the survey to ensure they get the support needed to finish it.
The field officers will be supplied with PPE, will socially distance, not enter properties and will work in line with all government guidance – the same way as post or food is currently delivered.
The census form should take about 10 minutes to complete the household questions and 10 minutes per person. Everyone’s details are protected by law and results, published within 12 months, are anonymous.
Census records are kept secure for 100 years and only then can they be seen by future generations