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Sunday 21st March is national Census Day in England and Wales

The census is a survey that happens every 10 years and gives a picture of all the people and households in England and Wales. The next census takes place on Sunday 21 March 2021. Letters are now arriving at households across the country with either an invitation to complete online, or a paper copy of the census form.

The answers to the census questions will help organisations make decisions on planning and funding public services, including transport, education and healthcare. That’s why it’s really important that the information the census collects represents everyone in the population.

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

The census must be completed by law or you could be fined up to £1,000. Some questions are labelled as voluntary. It is not an offence if those questions are not answered.  All refugees must complete the census; asylum seekers must complete the census if they have been in the UK for more than 3 months, see information leaflet here.

Individuals living in a household on 21st March (or staying overnight as a visitor/guest) who do not wish to share their personal information with others living in the same household can request their own code to complete the survey online (this is sent via text or email) or can request a Paper Copy.

Hotels and Emergency Accommodation (Night Shelters etc.) people in communal settings  will be supported by the Communal Establishment Officer who is responsible with liaising with the hotel (or other temporary overnight accommodation) and makes sure each guest is either provided with a paper copy or supported to get their own access code so that they can complete the form on line.

There is help available via contact centre on 0800 141 2021 and paper or online access codes can be ordered, guides to the questions in many languages and  language line support in approximately 200 languages on 0800 587 2021More info here.

At City of Sanctuary UK we realise that people will be worried about providing their personal details,  we have been reassured that any personal information collected through the census will be protected. No other government agency or department will be able to see any personal information until the records are released in 100 years.

There are census engagement teams across the UK and they can be contacted by City of Sanctuary groups for support and more information (we are currently waiting for all the contact details). These officers are working hard to build awareness and provide reassurance and support for any hidden communities. In their team they have people who speak various different languages and have access to interpretation services. In different times they would have offered to arrange to visit to speak to small groups and help them to complete their census, but they can still can do this via zoom.

Field teams will be starting to follow up by visiting addresses that have not responded from March 23 onwards and they will continue to provide support through March and April so as to allow everyone the chance to respond. As we move into April they are hopeful that they can offer face to face completion events.

The ONS have produced a few different resources for people to use to convey information about the census:

There is also information in different languages and formats on the website:

Here’s a video in Arabic from Restore – the Befriending Project in Birmingham.

Other Support/Events

The Small Charities Commission has arranged an event at 11am on Thursday 18th March Getting Ready For The Census 2021” 

People who are NRPF

NACCOM has provided guidance for charities supporting people with no recourse to public funds. We agree with them that it would be great if the Census could record the status of people with NRPF conditions who do not have the right to work or benefits in the UK. It is not clear how to do this. It has been suggested that answering yes to Q38 and then at Q41 recording No Recourse To Public Funding would be the best way of doing this.

* The census in Northern Ireland and Scotland

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) runs the census in England and Wales.

If you live in Northern Ireland, visit the Northern Ireland Statistics Agency (NISRA) census website to find out how to take part in the census for Northern Ireland.

If you live in Scotland, visit the National Records of Scotland census website to find out how to take part in the census for Scotland.