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News and events

Census 2021 question development reports – 4 March 2020

The ONS is publishing a series of Census 2021 question development reports. These provide a detailed explanation of the research, testing and evaluation we have carried out to arrive at our question designs for Census 2021.

These reports explain our approach to question development, the design process of the online and paper census questionnaires, how we ordered the census questions, the criteria we used to evaluate the final question designs, and our next steps as we prepare for Census 2021.

How the Office for National Statistics is ensuring the 2021 Census will serve the public – 12 June 2019

Today, we at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have published our report, How the Office for National Statistics is ensuring the 2021 Census will serve the public. The report addresses in detail our progress so far in designing and preparing for the 2021 Census against the three pillars in the Code of Practice for Statistics.

The ONS to hold five regional roadshows in the spring – 4 February 2019

The ONS will be holding five regional roadshows in March 2019, covering our transformation agenda and the 2021 Census.

At these roadshows, we’ll share the latest news on our plans for the 2021 Census as well as wider updates on our Population and Public Policy transformation.

The roadshows will take place in:

  • Bristol on Tuesday 12 March

  • Leeds on Tuesday 19 March

  • Nottingham on Wednesday 20 March

  • Wrexham on Thursday 21 March

  • London on Wednesday 27 March

Find out more and book your place.

2019 Rehearsal areas announced – 31 January 2019

This autumn, the ONS will be holding a census rehearsal as part of our preparations for the 2021 Census. Today, we’ve announced that the rehearsal will be taking place in four local authority areas of England and Wales, which are:

  • Carlisle

  • Ceredigion

  • Hackney

  • Tower Hamlets

Find out more about the 2019 Rehearsal and how we chose the rehearsal areas.

Initial view on 2021 Census output design: response to consultation – 18 December 2018

Today, we’ve published our response to the user feedback we received in our consultation, Initial View on Census 2021 Output Content Design.

Our vision is flexible, timely and accessible census outputs. We want to make as much data available at the lowest geographic levels and as easily as possible so users can access the data they need, while protecting confidentiality.

Overall, users agreed with our proposed output content and approach for disseminating 2021 Census data.

Previously, on 15 August 2018, we published a short update on the responses received in the consultation.

2021 Census White Paper — 14 December 2018

On 14 December 2018, the White Paper, ‘Help Shape Our Future: The 2021 Census of Population and Housing in England and Wales’, which outlined the recommendations for the 2021 Census, was published on GOV.UK, along with the associated Equality Impact Assessment.

2021 Census topic research update — 14 December 2018

We've published an update on our research and testing of questions and topics for the 2021 Census.

Report: Annual assessment of the ONS’s progress on the Administrative Data Census – 23 July 2018

This report describes what we mean by an Administrative Data Census, highlighting the main challenges and how to address them. This report is the third assessment, using a set of evaluation criteria, of how we’ve progressed on our Administrative Data Census project.

Read the report.

Integrated Data for Population Statistics conference – 9 and 10 July 2018

We held a research conference on 9 and 10 July 2018 at the University of Surrey. The theme was “Integrated data – Combining data to answer society’s biggest questions”. The event was aimed at those interested in:

  • integrated data and the 2021 Census

  • statistics using alternative data sources

  • methods to combine and link different types of data for population statistics

Find out more about the event.

Public consultation: Initial View on Census 2021 Output Content Design – 28 February to 23 May 2018

From 28 February to 23 May 2018, we carried out a public consultation in which we outlined our initial proposed design of 2021 Census outputs and the dissemination channels for England and Wales.

We wanted to hear your views on our initial design of 2021 Census outputs to ensure our proposal would meet your needs. This feedback helps us to prioritise our future research and development of 2021 Census outputs. It also informs the order in which we release our products.

This consultation was our first step towards understanding what you need from 2021 Census outputs, including specialist products.

On 15 August 2018, we published a short update on the responses received in the consultation. We’re currently undertaking a full evaluation of all the consultation responses. We plan to publish our response to your feedback in autumn 2018.

2021 Census and statistics about the Sikh community – 23 October 2017

The ONS invited organisations and individual experts who may have an interest in statistics about the Sikh community to an open meeting on 23 October 2017 in London. We shared progress in developing the questions for the 2021 Census and discussed how the need for statistics about the Sikh community can be met by the ONS.

The ONS had conducted an online survey with households in Wolverhampton and Hounslow, and interviews with members of the Sikh community. Results from the research and our current assessment of questions were presented. There was an opportunity for feedback and discussion.

2021 Census roadshows – July 2017

The ONS ran an extensive consultation on the content of the 2021 Census in England and Wales. Following this, we held four regional roadshows to share the latest news on the proposed content for the 2021 Census questionnaire.

This was an opportunity to ask experienced ONS staff questions and to find out about progress towards an Administrative Data Census beyond 2021. The roadshows covered:

  • a summary of question development and testing since publication of topic consultation outcomes and progress towards 2021 Census questionnaire design

  • developments towards meeting user requirements for data on sexual identity, gender identity and veterans

  • research and question development for the ethnic group question, including consideration of additional response options and online question design

  • the ONS’s assessment of using Valuation Office Agency data to produce estimates of numbers of rooms

  • updates on other census topics including education, volunteering and central heating

  • latest news from the Administrative Data Census Project on progress towards an Administrative Data Census beyond 2021

The roadshows took place in:

  • Newcastle upon Tyne

  • Birmingham

  • Cardiff

  • London

Report: Annual assessment of the ONS’s progress towards an Administrative Data Census post-2021 – 20 June 2017

This report described what we mean by an Administrative Data Census and highlighted the main challenges and how to address them. Using a set of evaluation criteria, this report delivered our second assessment of our ability to move to an Administrative Data Census in the next decade.

2017 Test – spring 2017

The ONS organises and conducts the census. It needs to assess a range of elements planned for the 2021 Census questionnaire to ensure that it asks the right questions and gets the maximum response.

In spring 2017, a large-scale test in preparation for the 2021 Census took place in seven local authorities and across other addresses in England and Wales. It was an exciting opportunity to shape the future of the census. Those who took part in the test influenced directly the formulation of the 2021 Census. The ONS is using the information from the test to help ensure the 2021 Census returns the most accurate picture of every neighbourhood in the country. This is essential to plan for the schools, hospitals, healthcare and leisure facilities needed in the future.

The 2017 Test took place to give us the information we need to make critical decisions ahead of the 2019 Rehearsal. The rehearsal will be the ONS’s last chance to test protocols, systems and processes before the 2021 Census.

Outcomes from this and future tests will help to inform decisions on proposed topics to be included in the White Paper for the 2021 Census. The Census Order and Regulations will be presented to Parliament to agree the final questionnaire content for the 2021 Census.

2016 Test in Telford and the Wrekin – June and July 2016

The 2016 Test in June and July of that year marked the start of an exciting period of testing and development for census teams. The test asked for information from 10,000 households, hotels and care homes, which gave us invaluable data for preparing the 2017 larger-scale test.

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

Read the full report from this consultation.

Outputs reference group formed – April 2016

Ahead of the 2011 Census, the ONS established an “outputs working group” where a small group of users helped to develop census outputs. This group was superseded by an “outputs reference group” for 2021 to provide a more reactive means of sharing plans. Rather than holding formal meetings involving travel from across the country, the new group largely holds meetings online. This is to reduce the burden on users and to be more reactive to what develops. An initial meeting of the group was held in April 2016 to test the technology that will be used in the 2021 Census.

Annual Research Conference (Winchester) – 28 to 29 June 2016

“Transforming the census – to 2021 and beyond”

This conference covered the latest research and current thinking from the Census Transformation Programme. You can find out more about the conference, including the session documents produced after the conference.

Better Data for Britain – 27 May 2016

Former Census Director, Ian Cope, attended the ‘Better Data for Britain’ event in London. The census slides from this event are now available.

Market engagement supplier briefing events – February 2016

In May 2015, the ONS hosted the initial supplier briefing event for the Census Transformation Programme.

Following this market engagement activity, we ran a series of supplier briefings in February 2016 in London, Cardiff and Manchester to promote future Census Transformation Programme procurement opportunities.

These briefings updated potential suppliers on our emerging procurement plans and provided the opportunity to receive feedback. For more information about the supplier briefings, please visit the Contracts finder website.

Topic consultation roadshows – June 2015

In June 2015, the ONS held a series of public roadshows to support the consultation on topics for the 2021 Census questionnaire. You can download the roadshow agenda (PDF, 177.4KB) and the roadshow slides (PowerPoint presentation, 4.4MB). The roadshows took place in:

  • Newcastle

  • Birmingham

  • Cardiff

  • London