In June 2015 ONS launched a public consultation asking census users for their views on the topics that the 2021 Census questionnaire in England and Wales might cover. Anyone could take part in this consultation, which closed in August 2015, and the resulting users’ feedback is informing further research which will contribute to the development and testing of appropriate census questions. The outcome of the consultation is described below, with the latest developments shown first.

Latest news and reports

20 January 2017  

As part of the research looking at the possible inclusion of questions on sexual identity and gender identity on the 2021 Census questionnaire, the Office for National Statistics in England and Wales has commissioned Ipsos MORI to study the public acceptability of asking such questions in a census. The fieldwork will be taking place between January and February 2017.

If you have any questions please contact Ipsos MORI by email or telephone

Email: Telephone: 0800 819 9150

01 November 2016, The 2021 Census - Ethnic group stakeholder follow-up survey

07 October 2016, Updated news on requirements for information on the armed forces

23 May 2016, The 2021 Census – Assessment of initial user requirements on content for England and Wales: Response to consultation


This latest report presents ONS’s full response to the consultation, updating our initial view on 2021 Census content for England and Wales.

The report provides an overview of the evaluation process we used to assess the responses and summarises the results of the evaluation. It sets out ONS’s updated view on the topics to be included in the 2021 Census, including a summary of proposals for new topics, next steps and an overview of our plans.

Download The 2021 Census – Assessment of initial user requirements on content for England and Wales: Response to consultation

Cyfrifiad 2021 - Asesiad o ofynion cychwynnol defnyddwyr o ran cynnwys ar gyfer Cymru a Lloegr: Ymateb i’r ymgynghoriad

Topic-specific reports

Alongside the overview are a set of topic reports which provide more detail. These are listed alphabetically in, and downloadable from, the table below. Two research plans are included summarising proposed research and testing about suggested new topics.

Topic-specific reports
Armed forces community Carers'
Demography Education
Ethnicity and national identity Gender identity topic report and the Research plan for gender identity
Genealogy Health
Housing Income
Labour Market and socio-economic classifications Language
Migration and citizenship Outputs and enumeration bases
Religion Sexual identity topic report and the Research plan for sexual identity
Next steps

Ongoing research and stakeholder engagement will help us with the development of the questions and, as part of the 2017 Census Test, questions will be tested in several local authorities. This large-scale test (involving more than 100,000 households) will use a split sample design in order to test the inclusion of a question on sexual identity.

The testing and development stages will inform our proposals for the Census White Paper on the content of the 2021 Census questionnaire. The final decision on questions will be presented to Parliament for approval in 2019.

The consultation responses in full

Provided below are the responses we received. The views expressed in each response are those of the respondent and not necessarily ONS’s views. Where a respondent has not given permission to publish their name, their response is marked as ‘Anonymous’.

Organisations’ responses Individuals’ responses
A to C A to C
D to F D to G
G to K H to K
L to O L to O
P to S P to R
T to Z S to Z
Anonymous Anonymous 1
Anonymous 2

Previous reports

The 2021 Census – Initial view of content for England and Wales – You said: A summary of the results: 19 November 2015

The topic consultation of June-August 2015 received over 1,000 responses. ONS issued this early overview of the responses while evaluating all the responses against the criteria we had published in June 2015.

Download this report

How we ran the Consultation

ONS conducted the 2021 Census – Initial view on content for England and Wales consultation online using Citizen Space from 4 June to 27 August 2015. It asked users of census statistics for their views on the topics that the 2021 Census questionnaire might cover.

The supporting documents for the consultation are available to download.

Why we consulted

“Decisions based on the census can touch the lives of all of us. Individuals and organisations alike are able to make better decisions based on the unique and reliable evidence base that the census provides. But we can't run this major project alone. We need the help of census users to ensure that the census stays relevant and credible. So do please take the time to share your views through this consultation. Together we can make sure we understand as much as we need to about the population in 2021."

John Pullinger, National Statistician

Previous consultations

The census and the future provision of population statistics in England and Wales: December 2013

Please note this consultation has now closed.

This consultation ran from September to December 2013. ONS invited data users’ views on two potential approaches for taking the census in the future:

  • A census once a decade, like that conducted in 2011, but primarily online.

  • A census using existing government data and compulsory annual surveys.

You can read more about this consultation here.

Download our report on the outcome of this consultation.

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