Following feedback from the Census 2021 topic consultation, we committed to collecting information on each of these topics. We also committed to reviewing the question design and response categories for the ethnic group question. For the main language question, we committed to reviewing the response options.

Each piece of research is part of a wider programme of testing and question development. You can read about the findings from our research in the Census 2021 topic research report: December 2017 and the Census 2021 topic research report update: December 2018.

This question development and testing informed the recommendations in the government White Paper Help Shape Our Future: The 2021 Census of Population and Housing in England and Wales (PDF 886KB), published in December 2018.

News and reports

26 June 2020, National identity, ethnic group, language and religion question development report for Census 2021 and Ethnic group tick-box prioritisation report (part 2).

The question development report provides information on our research on the ethnic group, national identity, language and religion topics for the 2021 Census. The prioritisation report shows the assessment used to determine the most appropriate response categories for the ethnic group question in Census 2021.

19 June 2019, The ethnic group prioritisation tool: 2021 Census in England and Wales (PDF, 220KB)

In order to evaluate requests for additional ethnic group tick boxes for the 2021 Census, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reviewed and updated the prioritisation tool first used in 2011. This paper provides information on how that was done.

Details of the tool used in 2011 can be found at Ethnic group prioritisation tool v1.1 (PDF, 956KB).

20 March 2019, Ethnic Group Stakeholder Follow-up Survey – Summary of responses

The ONS ran an “Ethnic group stakeholder follow-up survey” between November 2016 and January 2017, to gain a deeper understanding of user needs for ethnic group information.

The ONS assesses inclusion of topics against a range of evaluation criteria, which were set out in the May 2016 census topic consultation report (PDF, 796.4KB). User requirement is included within evaluation criteria used to assess question and topic inclusion for the 2021 Census.

This survey confirmed a need to continue to collect information on ethnic group and highlighted the specific user needs of responders.

The “Ethnic group stakeholder follow-up survey: Responses (Excel, 97.9KB)” Excel sheet includes the exact responses from the “Ethnic group stakeholder follow-up survey”. Responses have contributed evidence for the evaluation of the ethnic group question for the 2021 Census.

The views expressed in each response are those of the respondent and not necessarily the ONS’s views. Where a response has been made on behalf of an organisation, the organisation name has been provided. The names of individuals have not been published.

Recommendations put forward in the White Paper, The 2021 Census of Population and Housing in England and Wales, are based on extensive research and assessment, against all criteria. The 2021 Census topic research update: December 2018 provides details of recent research conducted that supports these recommendations.

13 December 2017, Summary of meeting with the Sikh community: 23 October 2017

This is a summary of the meeting with the Sikh community in October 2017. It also covers feedback provided by those who attended the meeting, at or after the meeting. This note is structured around the themes raised from the feedback. We have also published the slides presented at the meeting.

9 August 2017, Summary report: 2017 ethnic group question test – Sikh ethnic group and religious affiliation findings

This report summarises findings from testing a Sikh ethnic group response option within the 2017 Ethnic Group Question Test. We commissioned the research as part of question development work for the 2021 Census. The research feeds into our evaluation of requests for additional response options for the census ethnic group question.

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

After our consultation, “The 2021 Census – Initial view on content for England and Wales”, and our response, we ran a follow-up survey as the next step in the development of the ethnic group question for the 2021 Census.