Origin-destination data are used in a variety of ways that help to improve areas in and around England and Wales. For example, this information helps local and central government plan and fund infrastructure for healthcare, education, transport and housing based on population need.

Using census information on migration and commuting patterns, we can assess movement patterns in the population and observe how and if the characteristics (e.g. age, gender, ethnicity and socio-economic status) of these populations are changing.

About Origin Destination Tables

Origin-destination tables comprise the travel-to-work and migration patterns of individuals, cross-tabulated by variables of interest, such as occupation. They provide the migration patterns of those living at a student address one year ago, as well as information on individuals with second residences. Like for 2011, the Census 2021 origin-destination tables will be classified in three ways.

Public tables are available to everyone via Nomis under Open Government Licence. You can visit the public page for more information on these tables.

Tables with slightly more detail are termed “safeguarded” and only data analysts can access them under certain terms and conditions. For more information on these tables, including how to apply, you can visit the safeguarded tables page.

Tables with greater detail are termed “secure” and are accessible only in the ONS Secure Research Service (SRS). For more information on tables available via this route, and how to gain access, you can visit the secure tables page.

What we’ll be doing for Census 2021

We’ll continue to produce origin-destination data and we’re focusing our current research on:

  • reviewing the methodology used to protect the confidentiality of origin-destination tables, which will help us to understand if we can make more data publicly available
  • identifying the information that you need the most
  • looking at how we will store origin-destination information to make it easier to access the data

We’ve created an expert working group and we’re working closely with data users to develop specifications and access arrangements that meet your needs but don’t compromise the confidentiality of individual respondents.

We will continue to update on our plans going forward.

More information

If you want more information about origin-destination data, please email us at census.outputs@ons.gov.uk with your queries.