The census and the future provision of population statistics in England and Wales
After each census, The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reviews the future needs for information about the population and housing in England and Wales, and how these needs might be met.
Our research has resulted in two possible methods for taking the census in future.
A census once a decade, like that conducted in 2011, but primarily online.
A census using existing government data and compulsory annual surveys.
Both methods would provide annual statistics about the size of the population, nationally and for local authorities. A census using existing data and surveys would provide more statistics about the characteristics of the population every year, while an online census would provide more detailed statistics once a decade.
We have now launched a public consultation to ask users to think about how they use population statistics, and the benefits they bring, so that they can properly consider the advantages and disadvantages of the two options.
We want to encourage everyone with an interest to respond. A Welsh translation is being prepared for the consultation document and the questionnaire. Both will be available during the week beginning 23 September. The consultation runs from 23 September to 13 December. We will publish our findings in 2014.
As part of its ongoing engagement with users, ONS has developed a tool to allow users to calculate precision of estimates for specific socio-demographic characteristics of interest. This can be used to provide an indication of the level of precision that would be achieved (using an annual survey with a simple random sample design) for an estimate of a population group of a given size within a geographic area with a known population.