Census population statistics have a direct bearing on the government support that local authorities receive to fund public services. They provide consistent insights and contextual information for small areas and population groups and highlight local need for services like schools, roads and hospitals. By knowing how many people live in an area, local authorities can identify the services and facilities local communities need and make informed decisions. Examples include:

Planning school places

Census population estimates are used in many ways. County councils like Hampshire use census statistics to help forecast the number of pupils who will be going to school. The forecasts are then used to ensure there are enough school places within the area.

Planning national park recreation facilities

The Peak District National Park Authority and local councils use census data to improve the services offered to residents and visitors to the national park. Census data are also important in planning services for visitors, such as providing more recreational facilities or activities, depending on the characteristics of the population.

Planning transport

Census statistics feed into all sorts of transport decisions. For example for major upgrades, planning provision of car parking and cycling lanes, campaigns to promote cycling; and for rural bus/train subsidy schemes. A model for predicting travel patterns in the West Midlands uses data from the journey-to-work census question to assess how new public transport services can affect a community, or how pedestrianisation can affect a city centre. The transport model has also been used to develop traffic-flow management on motorways.

Domestic energy efficiency interventions

Census data have been used to inform the approach to area-based domestic energy efficiency. Census information on housing tenure and demographics have been used in conjunction with other small area data to identify areas where energy efficiency interventions would be best targeted.

Projects supporting older people to live independently at home

Census data provide evidence to spend budget on projects that support older people to live independently at home. They include gardening schemes, luncheon clubs, and activities by the neighbourhood policing teams to reduce fear of crime amongst vulnerable residents.

Emergency planning

Local authorities have used estimates of the population and households in coastal flood risk zones. Census output areas are an essential component in this work.

Local consultations

Local authorities use census data to ensure the sizes of social groups interviewed in its own consultations are representative of the demographic make-up of the county.

What our users say about census

“We use the census data as the fundamental building block to understanding our population - how it has changed and key trends going forward. It is essential and without it we risk making wrong assumptions about the population and where we should prioritise funding and resources”.

“As the census is the only source of national small area statistics it is a vital source of information, especially when building profiles of small areas, particularly parishes, which is gaining more importance with the government’s localism agenda”.

(Local authority responses to Census User Satisfaction Survey 2013)

“As a city local authority delivering a range of services census data will be used to explain how the city is changing and predict how it may change further in the future, specifically in relation to service needs and requirements of the population. The Census will therefore help to inform overall strategy, policies and service planning”.

Examples of the impact of census data:

Herefordshire Council - This pdf from the Herefordshire Council website shows how 2001 Census data supported funding applications for a variety of initiatives. These include a supported housing scheme, the provision of a pilot for superfast broadband and support to a Big Lottery Fund’s application for young people in a deprived areas to have access to a multi sport facility.


Wiltshire Intelligence Network website - A dedicated Census page which details 2001 and 2011 Census findings specifically for Wiltshire.