This autumn, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is holding a rehearsal for Census 2021 in four different local authority areas of England and Wales.

The census takes place once every 10 years and we only have one chance to get it right.

This means it’s important we rehearse the census operation to ensure that all our processes run smoothly. We also need to confirm that our statistical and operational design and communications strategy will enable us to meet our quality targets for Census 2021.

Criteria we used

When choosing our rehearsal areas, we were looking for:

  • a rural area

  • an urban area

  • an area with a mix of urban and rural localities

  • an area in Wales to enable rehearsal of the Welsh language questionnaire

  • an area with a single large population from an ethnic minority

  • an area with a variety of different ethnic minority groups

  • an area with poor broadband internet availability or take-up

  • different levels of mobile connectivity

  • some “digitally excluded” populations who are either unwilling or unable to complete the census form online

  • some student populations

  • areas with second homes

We assessed all local authorities in England and Wales against these and a few other criteria. For example, we did not consider the same local authorities that were included in recent census tests or the previous rehearsal in 2009, to avoid overburdening residents there.

Rehearsal areas

The areas we’ve chosen for the 2019 Rehearsal are:

  • Ceredigion

  • Carlisle

  • Tower Hamlets

  • Hackney

We’ll invite all households in these four areas to take part.

Why Ceredigion?

We chose Ceredigion as this is an area with a high proportion of Welsh language speakers and includes a large rural area. The area is likely to help us understand what mobile connectivity issues residents and our field officers may experience. Ceredigion also includes a student population and a range of second homes, and there are likely to be some areas with digitally excluded populations.

Why Carlisle?

Carlisle was chosen as an area that would represent a range of conditions for our field staff. It includes rural areas, urban areas, areas with low broadband take-up, a range of connectivity and some student populations.

Why Tower Hamlets and Hackney?

We chose two neighbouring local authorities in London to take part in the rehearsal. This will enable us to rehearse working across a local authority border.

We chose Tower Hamlets and Hackney to enable us to rehearse the census operation in urban, densely populated and traditionally hard-to-count areas.

Tower Hamlets includes a student population, a number of hard-to-access properties (for example, managed apartment blocks) and a large population from a single minority ethnic group.

Hackney is home to a number of smaller populations of diverse ethnic minority groups, enabling us to rehearse our community engagement and communications strategies.

More information

Take a look at our 2019 Rehearsal page to find out more about the rehearsal and why we’re doing it.