There has been a brilliant response to Census 2021, but the once-in-a-decade survey – which took place on 21 March – is not over. It is vital that people from all of our communities across England and Wales complete their census questionnaires and there is still time to do so to avoid a fine.
The census benefits us all by underpinning the services we all rely on. Your anonymous answers provide information on living arrangements, health, education, and the jobs we do to help inform policy at a local and national level for years to come. On top of things like school places and GP surgeries, census data is even used in planning where to build new supermarkets, what food to put on the shelves and how many parent and toddler spaces should go in the car park.
Anwaar Raja, a census community adviser for Pakistani community urged people to complete their forms:
“As a strong expat community, the British Pakistani and Kashmiri diaspora contribute hugely towards the British society but to be fully recognised everyone need to be counted. To be recognised and to claim your share of economic, professional, and educational opportunities as a community, fill in your census and be visible. It is easy and simple – you just need to have access to the internet or call the helpline. We have done so many amazing things in this country together so be recognised and complete the census today. It is important as it is all about us.”
After your census responses are received, your personal information is kept under lock and key for 100 years. No-one can be identified in the statistics we publish, and your personal information cannot be seen by anyone who makes decisions about you. It can’t be used by government to influence benefit claims, a residency application, immigration status or taxes, or by landlords or other private organisations.
Seun Ebenezer, a census community adviser for the Black African community, urged people to complete their forms:
“The UK government relies on data such as census data to plan, govern and care for her citizens. Filling the census is laying claim to our share of the national cake. Let’s do it for our children. Their bright future is within today’s Census data. Truly census is about us.”
Every household is required by law to complete the census and Office for National Statistics field staff have been out and about across England and Wales over recent weeks, following up with the remaining households where records show there is not yet a completed questionnaire.
Kareen Jacobs, a census community adviser for the Black Caribbean community, urged people to complete their forms:
“Responses from Black Caribbean communities will help to ensure that important decisions consider everyone’s health, housing and employment needs. Remember that everyone is included, regardless of status. Individuals cannot be identified, and personal information is secure and cannot be accessed.”
Extensive community engagement is continuing to make sure all groups of the population are represented in the census. Students, for example, should make sure they have completed a questionnaire for their term-time address to give the most accurate picture possible. It’s not too late and they should complete a form even if they were included on their family form at home. This will help make sure all students get the services they need in their university town now and in the future.
This year marks the first digital-first census, and the online questionnaire remains open – it only takes around 10 minutes to respond per person. But for those who need support, help is at hand. You can also call our contact centre on 0800 141 2021 for help or to order a free paper questionnaire. A free language helpline offering support in over 50 languages is also available on 0800 587 2021.
All households were sent a letter in the post in early March with instructions for taking part. If you have lost the letter or have a second address you have not visited, go to to request an online completion code for your address via SMS text message. If you know of a vacant property, let us know.
We will continue to support people to respond to the census, but if a household refuses to fill out their questionnaire they will ultimately proceed to an interview under caution, which may be followed by a court summons, a fine of up to £1,000 and a criminal record.
To avoid this, we are holding a completion event in Beeston on Friday 30 April 2021 from 10am-4pm, outside Beeston Library. We will have staff who speak Urdu, Latvian, and Punjabi available, as well as translated materials and a dedicated language support phone line. If you see us, say hello!
This post was written by Scott Anthony Martin
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