Census 2021 is coming

The national census takes place on Sunday 21 March 2021. Letters with details of how to complete the census are landing through letterboxes now.

The census is a unique survey that happens every 10 years. It gives a snapshot of all the people and households in England and Wales – the most detailed information we have about our society.

Everyone living in England and Wales must take part in the census. Census information helps inform how billions of pounds of public funding is spent.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) is responsible for the census in England and Wales.

For the first time this will be a digital-first census, although paper copies will be available for those who need it.

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, leader of the council, said: “Despite the constraints of the pandemic, we’re asking everyone to fill in the census questionnaire.

“We want the best possible response for the city, because it helps inform the crucial funding decisions that the government and NHS make on public services. 

“In turn, it also helps us as a council understand our community better and their needs. We want everyone to complete the census so our city and all of our communities get a fair share.”

The ONS is independent from government. All details are protected by law and information published is always anonymous.

The ONS has assured us that the census can be run safely and that the data collected will be robust.

How to take part

The invitations to fill out the census questionnaire are going out this week. They include your household access code, as well as information about how to take part online and access support if you need it.

You can complete the census online as soon as you receive your access code in the post. If your household circumstances change on Census Day, you can let the ONS know.

Census 2021 is a digital-first census, which means that people will be encouraged to respond online if they can. The census can be completed using any device, including mobile phones and tablets.

If you need support, there’s an online help area available on the census website, and you can also get help by phone, webchat, email, social media or text message.

The information touches the lives of every single person living in England and Wales, whether it’s through using census information to plan new schools, doctors’ surgeries or bike lanes.

As these things matter to us all, everyone needs to complete the census. 

Support to complete the census

The focus will be on engaging with everyone, including under-represented and hard to reach groups. 

Everyone should have the support they need to complete the census. If anyone needs help, there’s a wide range of support services available. 

These include a contact centre that can help over the phone and guidance in a range of languages and accessible formats, including paper questionnaires, large print, easy read and Braille. 

Help is also available for people who need support to take part online.

The ONS have made the questionnaire as simple as possible and are encouraging friends or family member to help anyone who needs support. People can ask for help for themselves or someone else.

If you need help or an alternative format, you can find more information on the accessibility pages on the census website.

Advisers are available to help over the phone by calling 0800 141 2021 from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and 8am to 1pm on Saturday. Phonelines will also be open from 8am to 8pm on the census weekend of 20 and 21 March.

For more information about options for getting in touch, visit the contact page on the census website.

Census officers will be visiting managed shared accommodation to support everyone to complete the census and arrangements will be put in place to make sure anyone sleeping rough can take part.

As in previous censuses, students will be counted at both their usual term-time address, and their usual out of term address if these are different.  

Counting students at their term time address is a key user need and maintains consistency with the population basis of previous censuses. The information informs funding decisions on things like university campus bus links and bike lanes, jobs and training.  

As current lockdown restrictions are likely to mean that a high proportion of students will not have returned to their term time address, plans are in place to send specific guidance to all students.

Keeping the public and census staff safe during Covid

The ONS are putting measures in place to make sure everyone can be safely counted during the census. They will make sure that plans are in line with the latest government safety guidelines.

They will also be encouraging people to get help from friends and family to complete their census.

After Census Day, at the end of March and into April, census field officers will be visiting households who have not completed the census form.

They will encourage people to complete the census and help them access further help if they need it. Census field officers will never need to enter anyone’s house.

Census field officers will be working in the same way as a postal or food delivery visit. They will be wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and working in line with government guidance.

The last day for people to complete their questionnaires online or order paper questionnaires is 4 May 2021.

A ‘Census Coverage Survey’ (CCS) begins on 5 May 2021 to check the accuracy of the survey count. It’s run on a few selected postcodes and interviewers visit households to ask similar questions as the main census.

Find out more

You can find all you need to know on the Census 2021 website.