For the 2011 Census, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) sought to realise the value of local authorities’ knowledge about their own communities.

Learning lessons from 2001

It was clear from the 2001 experience that it would be mutually beneficial for local authorities and ONS to work in partnership on the 2011 Census. ONS benefited from local authority resources and their knowledge of governed areas to improve the enumeration process. Consequently, local authorities should benefit from better census results.

Local partners helped maximise coverage

By positively engaging local authorities in, for example, the development and quality assurance of address lists and actively encouraging them to promote the benefits of the census in their areas, ONS sought to improve coverage and minimise differential non-response.

Local authorities assisted in identifying and reaching local hard-to-count populations, and were often aware of local interest groups.

These partnerships allowed ONS to cover not only the known disadvantaged groups, but also to target resource at areas known to have the characteristics associated with poor coverage.

Community liaison to reach undercounted groups

Undercounted groups are the greatest challenge to a census. ONS researched the types of people missed in the 2001 Census, and placed emphasis on more collaboration with the many agencies and community organisations involved.

The primary aim was to facilitate enumeration and ensure fullest possible coverage of these under-represented population groups, including very elderly and/or disabled people, ethnic minority groups and faith communities.

This community liaison work sought to:

  • identify how community groups can provide local intelligence into the census project

  • publicise the census and underline its use and value

  • provide help and guidance to local community groups and individual members of the public

  • assist with the development of language and accessibility strategies, and in particular, the provision of language translation, interpreting materials and community event facilities

  • help provide a source of potential field staff

  • provide operational intelligence, guidance and support for field staff

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