Census 2021

Census 2021

Did you remember to complete the census?

Did you remember to complete the census on Sunday 21 March 2021?  Census Day may have been and gone but that doesn't mean you don't have to take part.  The census helps us make decisions about schools, health care and lots of other things that matter to us all. 

Every household in England and Wales is required to participate in the census so if you haven't already completed the census now is the time to go online and have your say.

Census 2021 myth buster

There are lots of things that people think they know about the census but often get wrong.  Below are the most common mistakes so you can check if you got it right.

I've missed Census Day so I don't have to do it

Wrong!. Every household is required by law to complete the census even if they didn't do it on the day.  There's been a great response so far but everyone needs to respond as soon as possible to avoid a fine.  

Students don't count in the census

Wrong! Students are vitally important and do count.  All students need to be included in the census.  They should complete the form for their usual term time address, even if they weren't there on the day.  If they're currently living at their home address they need to be included in the census for that household too.  International students living in England or Wales or who wuld normally be here need to be counted too.  

You only count yourself at the house you were in on Census Day

Wrong!  Everyone needs to complete the census for their usual address even if they weren't there on Census Day.  This is because local services will be needed at both addresses.  If the pandemic has changed where you are living, for example if you moved out of a city to a rural or holiday home before lockdown of you haven't visited your commuter flat for a while you still need to complete a census form for both addresses.  You can request an access code for your second address at census.gov.uk.

You don't need to complete the census for an empty house

Wrong! it is important to complete the census for all houses, even if nobody usually lives there.  This includes holiday homes and caravans because it's a census about housing as well as about people.   Local coouncils need to know about all the houses in their area so they can plan services and work out how many new houses need to be build.  You can get an access code for your empty house, flat or caravan at census.gov.uk.

British citizens living in or visiting the UK aren't counted

Wrong! Everyone staying in England and Wales on Census Day, 21 March 2021, has to be counted.

My information will be shared

Wrong! Personal census data is kept under lock and key for 100 years.  No individual or their responses can be identified in the statistics that are published.  In fact, your personal information can't be seen by anyone who makes decisions about you.  It cannot be used by the government to influence benefit claims, a residency application, immigration status or taxes, or by landlords or other private organisations.

The census is pointless.  It doesn't help me.

Wrong! The census benefits all of us by underpinning the services all of us rely on.  It provides information on our living arrangements, health, education and the jobs we do and the information is used to help inform national and local policy for years to come.  From school places to planning bike lanes - census information is even used when deciding where to build a new supermarket, what food to put on the shelves and how many parent and toddler spaces to put in the car park.

If you can't get online you can't do the census

Wrong! This is the first time everyone has been asked to respond online if they can and there's been a terrific response.  If you know someone who doesn't have the skills or confidence to do it online help is at hand.  There are census support centres across England and Wales offering telephone and face to face support.  Visit census.gov.uk/help/find-a-census-support-centre to find a centre near you.  You an also call the contact centre on 0800 141 2021 for help or to request a paper questionnaire. 

Census officers will ask for personal information

Partly right! Census officers will ask for a householders name and phone number if they request a new access code or an address if they request a paper questionnaire.  Census officers will never ask to see personal document like passports or birth certificates.  They will never ask for payment or they will not enter your home.

Census officers will fine you on the doorstep

Wrong! Don't be scammed.  Census officers will never ask for a payment or fine you on the doorstep.  The role of census field officers is to help and encourage people who haven't completed the census yet and let them know where they can go for support.  They will always carry ID to show you they are genuinely working on the census.  Census officers will support you to complete the census but if a household refused they will be interviewed under caution.  This may be followed by a court summons, a fine of up to £1,000 and a criminal record.

I've got to pay a fine online for making a mistake on my census

Wrong! Don't be scammed.  A fine can only be imposed if you are taking to court for not completing the census.  You will never be issued with a fine by text message, on social media or by email.  The Cyber Intelligence team is scouring the web for phishing sites and taking them down.  If you see a site that looks suspicious or receive a text message with links to sites asking for money related to the census don't engage with them.  Report them to the Census 2021 Contact Centre by ringing 0800 141 2021

Census 2021 - It's about us

The census is about all of us and by taking part you can help shape services in your community.  It informs decisions about the issues that are important to you, decisions about things like education, healthcare and public transport.

What is the census?

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 about our society.  The Office for National Statistics (ONS) runs the census in England and Wales and is independent from government. Your details are protected by law and information published is always anonymous.  

What is census information used for?

In one way or another the census touches the lives of every single person living in England and Wales.  Census information is used to plan for everything from building new homes, schools and doctors' surgeries to investing in cycle lanes and public transport.  

Without the information you share when you fill in the census it would be more difficult to understand the needs of our communities and to plan and fund public services.  

How do I complete the census?

In early March, you will receive your census letter.  It will have an access code that you will need to fill in the form.  If you don't receive the letter or can't find your access code you can get ask for a new one on the census website.  When you're ready go to www.census.gov.uk, click the 'start census' button, enter you're access code and you're ready to go.  And it will only take about 10 minutes to complete the census.

Who needs to fill in the census?

The census is about the things that matter to all of us.  Everyone is required by law to complete the census - if you don't you could be fined up to £1,000.  The person or people who own or rent the house will need to fill in a few questions about the household.  There are then some questions about each person who lives in the house.  Each person can answer the individual questions if they want to.  If someone in a household wants to keep their information private from others in the home they can request an individual access code so they can complete an individual questionnaire.  You can do this at www.census.gov.uk

You need to answer the individual questions in the Household Questionnaire for:

  • anyone who lives with you permanently or counts your address as their family home
  • people temporarily away from home, for example students or school children boarding away
  • people staying with you temporarily if they live in the UK and have no other address
  • people staying with you temporarily from outside of the UK who are staying in the country for three months or more

There is a separate section that needs to be filled in for visitors who are staying overnight in your house on Census Day.

When should I complete the census?

Census Day is on Sunday 21 March and the information you provide needs to be about that day.   You can complete the census as soon as you receive your census letter and access code but if there are any changes before Census Day you will need to update your information.  If you don't complete the census on or before 21 March you will need to do it as soon as possible after the day but remember the information you provide must be about Census Day.

What if I can't complete the census online?

Census 2021 is a digital-first census.  If you’re not confident completing the census online you can get help using the contact details at the bottom of this page.  Alternatively, if you can't fill in the census online, you can still ask for a paper version.  Information on how to do this is included in your census letter.  

Where can I get help to complete the census?

If you need help or advice to complete the census you should contact the Census Helpline 

Freephone  0800 141 2021 - Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm; Saturday, 8am to 1pm; Census weekend (20 - 21 March), 8am to 8pm

Text 86677 - Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm; Saturday, 8am to 1pm; Census weekend (20 - 21 March), 8am to 8pm

Webchat at www.census.gov.uk -  Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm; Saturday, 8am to 1pm; Census weekend (20 - 21 March), 8am to 8pm

Relay UK - dial 18001 followed by the freephone number

Is information or help available in other languages?

The ONS have produced following information on the census in the other languages:

Arabic (pdf 1,269kb)

Bengali (pdf 1,077kb)

Cantonese (pdf 1,168kb)

Czech (pdf 1,049kb)

Farsi (pdf 1,239 kb)

Gujarati (pdf 1,084kb)

Kurdish (pdf 1,129kb)

Lithuanian (pdf 1,060kb)

Mandarin (pdf 1,170kb)

Panjabi (pdf 1,256kb)

Polish (pdf 1,199kb)

Portuguese (pdf 1,136kb)

Romanian (pdf 1,134kb)

Slovak (pdf 1,175kb)

Somali (pdf 1,166kb)

Spanish (pdf 1,151kb)

Turkish (pdf 1,143kb)

Urdu (pdf 1,220kb)

If you need to speak to someone in another language call the free language helpline on 0800 587 2021

Where can I find out more about the census?

You can find out more about the census at www.census.gov.uk 

Did you know?

Photo of a man sitting near a beach with a message that says the census is coming.

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