Answering Questions About the 2021 Census

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The next census will be held on Sunday 21st March 2021, but what is it? How do I complete the form? This article answers some of your frequently asked questions about completing the 2021 Census.

What is the census?

The census is a questionnaire that is mandatory to complete per house household. The next census will be held on Sunday 21st March 2021. The census is carried out every 10 years for the purpose of finding out about the population of the country. As everyone is required to answer the same questions at the same time, the census shows a snapshot of life in Britain at a particular point in time.

Why is the purpose of the census?

The census is carried out so that central and local government can make better informed decisions about allocating resources and services effectively for important issues such as housing, health, education, and transport.

What does the census ask?

Each household will be asked about who lives there at the time. Each member of the household will have to answer questions on their marital status, date of birth, country of birth, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, and language.

When should I complete the census?

You can complete your census as soon as you receive your letter with an access code, but make sure you answer about your household as you expect it to be on Census Day – Sunday 21st March 2021. If you haven’t received your access code or have lost it, you can request a new access code to start a new census here.

How should I complete the census?

The 2021 census is the most accessible census to date. Once you have your access code, you can complete your census online. If you’d like to request a paper questionnaire, you can request to do that here, or by calling the freephone number 0800 328 2021.

How long will it take?

The census is estimated to take 10 minutes to answer the general household questions, plus an additional 10 minutes per person that lives in the house.

What if I’m a student?

If you’re a student, you’ll be counted at both your term-time and home address, so make sure that both your census forms have been completed.

What if I rent my property?

Everybody needs to complete the census, no matter whether you rent or own your house. As a tenant it is your obligation to complete the census, not your landlords.

What if I need to answer the questions separately from my household?

If you need to answer separately from the people you live with, you can request an individual access code to start a separate census. An individual access code lets you answer your census questions separately from the people you live with, so they can’t see your answers. Your household will not be told that you have requested an individual access code. Your individual answers will override the answers provided on the census completed by the household.

What happens to the collected data from the census?

The completed information will be compiled by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) into a finding report within the year. This is particularly important due to Covid-19.  The ONS have currently been using past census data to understand how the pandemic has affected people in different ways. This year’s census will provide fresh information about the resources and services that people we have needed to keep safe during the census.

What happens to my personal information?

Only the numbers from the data are used when collating the findings. Your personal details will be protected for 100 years after the census.

Do I have to complete the census?

By law, everyone in Wales is required to complete the census. It is an offence to supply false information or to not complete the census, and you could be fined up to £1,000. However, some labels on the census are labelled clearly as voluntary questions. You do not have to answer those questions if you don’t want to.

Need more Information?

If you need more information on the 2021 Census, please visit the official Census website.

Want to find out more about the law, rights and citizenship, check out TheSprout’s Information page.


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