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What is a census?

Every ten years since 1801 the nation has set aside one day for the census - a count of all people and households. It is the most complete source of information about the population that we have. The latest census was held on Sunday 27 March 2011.

Every effort is made to include everyone, and that is why the census is so important. It is the only survey which provides a detailed picture of the entire population, and is unique because it covers everyone at the same time and asks the same core questions everywhere. This makes it easy to compare different parts of the country.

The information the census provides allows central and local government, health authorities and many other organisations to target their resources more effectively and to plan housing, education, health and transport services for years to come.

In England and Wales, the census is planned and carried out by the Office for National Statistics. Elsewhere in the UK, responsibility lies with the National Records of Scotland and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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