Census 2021: What is it and why do we need to do it?

The Census has been held every ten years since 1801, with the exception of 1941 due to the Second World War.

But what it is and why do we need to do it?

Sharp End presenter, Rob Osborne discussed the process with Iain Bell, the Deputy National Statistician for the Office of National Statistics.

He said: "So the Census is a count of everybody in England and Wales on the 21st of March 2021 and it's designed to provide accurate information of just not who we are but of the type of lives we lead, the jobs we do, the types of education we have and where we live as well as a lot of other factors.

Iain Bell is the Deputy National Statistician at the ONS

"It's vital for public services across England and Wales as it feeds information to help plan health services, school places and I've seen it get used by people to campaign and get funding for local playgrounds to make life better for the children, highway planning and way more beyond that as well.

"I've even heard it used by supermarkets to estimate how many disabled parking spaces they might need."

  • How do I get a form?

"If you've not already received one, it should be in the post to you but you can always go online and order a new unique access code or phone up the contact centre.

"The telephone numbers are on the website too and you'll be able to order a paper questionnaire or an online access code."

The Census happens every ten years
  • When should I complete it and what happens if I don't?

Every household should complete the census on Sunday 21 March 2021 or as soon as possible after.

"We follow up with individuals and households across England and Wales to give them every chance but there is a potential of a fine of £1,000 for those who don't respond after their free opportunity."

You could get a £1,000 fine if you don't complete the form
  • What's different this year?

"First of all, it's primarily online and that's making it easier than ever for people to go online and complete. In addition, there's a few new questions.

"There's a question on the armed forces so that we can find out information to help provide the services to those who served us and two new voluntarly questions on sexual orientation and gender identity where we don't know as much as we need to in order to help decision making in these areas."

  • When will we get the results?

"We'll get the first results within a year so that's March 2022 where we'll give the headline results."

Census day is March 21st 2021
  • What did the 2011 Census tell us about Wales?

The 2011 Census told us that the Welsh population at the time was 3.1 million. It also told us that 2 million people said that their national identity was Welsh with 218,000 of those also identifying as British.

The Census also revealed that just under a fifth of the population could speak Welsh and 2% of households had no central heating.


You can catch up with Sharp End and watch the full interview here.