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Census 2021

The Census is a survey that happens every 10 years and is run by the Office of National Statistics. The next Census for England and Wales is due next year and Census Day will be Sunday 21 March 2021. Find our more about the Census below. 

What is the Census?

The census is a survey that happens every 10 years and gives us a picture of all the people and households in England and Wales. The census is a once-in-a-decade survey that gives us the most accurate estimate of all the people and households in England and Wales. The information you give helps decide how services are planned and funded in your local area. This could mean things like doctors’ surgeries, housing or new bus routes.

It asks questions about you and your household to build a picture of all of us. It looks at who we are and how we live. There’s no other survey that gives as much information about our society and future needs.

All kinds of organisations, from local authorities to charities, use the information to help provide the services we all need, including transport, education and healthcare. Without the census, it would be much more difficult to do this.

By taking part, you’ll be helping make sure you and your community get the services needed now and in the future.

Why should you take part in the Census?

It’s important you take part in the census. The information it gives has the power to make a real impact on our everyday lives. You should complete the Census because:

  • The census helps us understand what our society needs now and what it’s likely to need in the future. The information it collects helps plan and fund services in your area.
  • Charities also use census information to help get the funding they need. Businesses use it to decide where to set up, which creates job opportunities.
  • Census 2021 will help give the best picture of the needs of everyone living in England and Wales. A total of 94% of people took part in the last census, helping each area receive its share of public funding. 

  • You must complete the census by law. If you do not, or if you supply false information, you could be fined up to £1,000. Some questions are labelled as voluntary and it is not an offence if you do not answer these.

Census 2021 

The 2021 Census will be different to the 2011 Census. Some of the key changes are as follows: 

  • Census 2021 will be the first 'digital-first census'. It’s easy to do and can be done on any device. You’ll get an access code from the Office for National Statistics. Simply go online and enter the code into our secure website to get started. 
  • The ONS want to be easy for everyone to take part in Census 2021. ONS will have an online help area and can offer support help by phone, webchat, email, social media or text message.

  • If you can’t get online or need help completing the census online, there’ll be Census Support Centres across England and Wales.

  • Guidance in a range of languages and accessible formats is also available from the ONS website.If your language is not represented, please contact the customer contact centre on 0800 141 2021.

Census day is March 21. However, households will receive a letter in the post in early March, giving them details of how to take part in the mandatory survey. They will also receive a unique access code, inviting them to complete the survey online, although paper questionnaires are available on request.

Find out More 

How the ONS keeps your data safe

The safety of your information is our top priority at the Office for National Statistics. No one can identify you in the census statistics we publish. We make sure they contain none of your personal information. Your census record is kept secure for 100 years and only then can future generations see it.

The ONS do not sell your personal information. Everyone working on the census signs the Census Confidentiality Undertaking. It’s a crime for them to unlawfully share personal census information. This includes people working for the census offices and for our suppliers.

The ONS have strict security procedures that follow government standards. This includes physical and IT security measures to protect your data.

Laws in place that cover protection of your data include the:

  • Data Protection Act 2018
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • Census Act 1920
  • Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007

To find out more about how ONS keep your information safe, please visit the ONS website.

Temporary jobs as part of Census 2021 

For Census 2021, the ONS will be hiring at least 30,000 field staff across England and Wales alongside many other roles. 

Find Out More