Census 2021 – it’s almost here!

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Every ten years the Office for National Statistics (ONS) carries out a census in England and Wales to provide insight into the people who live across the two countries and what their lives are like. This year, census day is on Sunday 21 March.

What is the census?

The census is an important part of our history, dating back to 1801, and helps the government and charitable organisations to plan and fund services by creating a picture of people’s lives in your area. The responses from your community might for example, highlight a need for a new primary school, doctors’ surgery or bike lane in your area.

How does it work?

Towards the end of February, you will receive a card in the post to tell you that your Census information pack will arrive in early March. The pack will tell you all you need to know to enable you to complete the form. You will be given an access code to enter your details online. You can use any device.

If you are unsure about anything, there will be plenty of support available through local Census Support Centres and a Census Helpline, and you can request a paper version if you prefer. You can also request information and support in different languages.

What is it used for?

The census collects information about you, your household and your home. How you answer the questions is your choice, and your data will be protected by law. This information is collated and analysed by the ONS so that local councils, charities and voluntary organisations know what is needed most in different areas, from transport to education and health. Billions of pounds of funding depend on the results of the census.

Is my information safe?

Any information that is published following the census will be kept anonymous by the ONS, which is an independent organisation. This means no-one from government departments or private organisations that provide you with services will be able to see your answers. After 100 years, census records are released so future generations can learn about their history.

Do I have to complete the census?

Yes, you are legally required to complete the census. Some of the questions (for example, those about sexuality and gender identity) are voluntary, but if you do not complete it or you supply false information, you might be fined up to £1000.

Census 2021 Easy Read Guide

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