The Office for National Statistics (ONS) engaged in a programme of consultation, question development and testing to finalise the content of the 2011 Census questionnaire.

New questions were developed for topics where there was a new demand for information, and existing questions were redeveloped to account for increasing or changing user requirements. Initial meetings focused on ethnicity and identity questions in particular.

A key part of this development programme was the 2007 Census Test, where some newly developed questions were used on a large scale for the first time. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published its plans and proposed questions in the White Paper ‘Helping to shape tomorrow’ in December 2008 (see Census legislation). This was followed up with comprehensive testing across three local authorities during the 2009 Rehearsal. After some further research and testing, the final recommendations for the 2011 Census questions were published.

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