1. Key points

  • According to the 2011 UK census, more than a quarter (27 per cent, 13.9 million) of the UK population aged 16 and over had achieved a Level 4 or above qualification such as a degree or other higher qualification or equivalent. This exceeded the proportion that had no qualifications (23 per cent, 11.9 million) in 2011

  • Of the constituent countries of the UK, residents of England were most likely to have a Level 4 or above qualification (27 per cent, 11.8 million) while residents of Northern Ireland were most likely to have no qualifications (29 per cent, 417,000)

  • In 2011, more than two thirds (70 per cent, 32.3 million) of the usually resident population of the UK aged 16 to 74 were economically active at the time of the census, and 30 per cent (14.1 million) were economically inactive. Of those who were economically active, 89 per cent (28.6 million) were employed, 6 per cent (2.1 million) were unemployed and 5 per cent (1.6 million) were full-time students

  • In 2011, economically active females were four times as likely to be working part-time (33 per cent, 5.0 million) as economically active males (8 per cent, 1.4 million). In contrast more economically active males worked full-time (62 per cent, 10.7 million) compared with females (47 per cent, 7.1 million)

  • ‘Wholesale and retail trade’ was the largest industry sector in 2011, accounting for 16 per cent (4.7 million) of usual residents aged 16 to 74 in employment. The largest industry sector for males was also ‘Wholesale and retail trade’ at 16 per cent (2.5 million) while for females it was ‘Human health and social work’ activities at 21 per cent (3.0 million)

  • The three largest occupation groups in the UK in 2011 for usual residents aged 16 to 74 were ‘Professional occupations’ (17 per cent, 5.2 million); ‘Associate professional and technical occupations’ (13 per cent, 3.8 million) and ‘Skilled trades occupations’ (12 per cent, 3.5 million)

  • According to the 2011 UK census, the largest socio-economic group in the UK was ‘Lower managerial, administrative, and professional occupations’, which accounted for 21 per cent (9.6 million) of all usual residents aged 16 to 74

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2. Introduction

Summary

In this statistical release, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) presents further results from the 2011 Census of the UK. These results build on previous releases of UK census results and provide results for the UK on the following topics:

  • Qualifications

  • Labour market

This bulletin is supported by a set of 14 Key Statistics (KS) and 8 Quick Statistics (QS) reference tables for the above topics. KS and QS tables show information about a single topic or question from the 2011 Census such as highest qualification or hours worked.

Censuses were conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in England and Wales, National Records of Scotland (NRS) in Scotland and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) in Northern Ireland. 2011 UK census statistics are based on combined results from the individual censuses which took place on 27 March 2011.

Statistics published in this release are based on outputs that have already been published by each constituent country. Therefore the content and level of detail of the statistics available in this release are constrained by the country specific outputs that are currently available. For some topics the published country specific outputs do not allow comparable UK outputs to be produced. In addition, certain questions and response categories differ across the three UK censuses; therefore some outputs are not fully comparable across the UK.

Further information from the UK censuses:

Further results

This release represents the second part of the publication of Key and Quick Statistics from the 2011 UK Censuses. Key and Quick Statistics on the topics of population, ethnic group, country of birth, health, and housing and accommodation were published as part of Release 2.1 on 11 October 2013. Further key results on the remaining topics, including households and families will be available when all constituent country data have been published. It is planned that later releases will include more detail in the form of cross-tabulations.

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3. Qualifications

In this statistical release, information on qualifications from the 2011 UK censuses is presented for the highest level of qualification achieved by usual residents aged 16 and over. The highest level of qualification is derived from the country specific census questions on qualifications, and respondents were able to indicate a range of academic qualifications held (including ‘no qualifications’) as well as professional, vocational and non-UK / foreign qualifications.

There were differences in the question asked on qualifications across the country specific censuses which reflected the different information requirements of each country and the different qualifications that exist in the UK. These differences should be borne in mind when considering UK-wide census outputs presented on qualifications held. Appendix 1 shows the country specific qualifications questions that were asked in the 2011 UK censuses.

Key differences in the qualifications response categories for the constituent countries of the UK were:

  • In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, a separate response category was provided for non-UK / foreign qualifications and respondents were asked to indicate the closest UK equivalent qualification (if known). In Scotland a separate response category was not provided for non-UK / foreign qualifications. Instead respondents were asked to indicate foreign qualifications held within three separate ‘Other qualification’ categories (each of which related to different of of qualification).

  • In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a separate category was provided for vocational or work related qualifications held. No specific category for vocational or work-related qualifications was included in Scotland’s census question on qualifications.

  • In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a separate response category was provided for apprenticeships held. No specific category for apprenticeships was included in Scotland’s census question on qualifications.

Although not a new question in 2011, the results on highest level of qualification are not directly comparable between the 2001 and 2011 censuses. This is due to a number of factors including changes in the level assigned to some qualifications, changes to the questions asked and differences in response categories.

The table 'Levels of qualification' provides a brief description of the different qualification levels presented in census outputs.

Figure 1 shows that in 2011 more than a quarter (27 per cent, 13.9 million) of usual residents aged 16 and over in the UK had achieved a Level 4 or above qualification. This was a higher proportion than those who had no qualifications (23 per cent, 11.9 million). Usual residents who reported no qualifications includes those aged 16 and over who were still studying i.e. had not completed their formal education at the time of the census.

Table 1 shows that roughly a quarter of all usual residents aged 16 and over had a Level 4 or above qualification in each of the constituent countries of the UK. England had the highest proportion of residents with a Level 4 or above qualification at 27 per cent (11.8 million) while Wales and Northern Ireland had the lowest proportion at 24 per cent (614,000 and 339,000 respectively). In Scotland, 26 per cent (1.1 million) of residents aged 16 and over had a Level 4 or above qualification.

Table 1 also shows that more than one in four of usual residents aged 16 and over in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales reported having no qualifications in 2011. Residents of Northern Ireland aged 16 and over were most likely to have no qualifications at 29 per cent (417,000), compared with the UK average of 23 per cent (11.9 million). In Scotland, 27 per cent (1.2 million) of usual residents aged 16 and over had no qualifications and in Wales 26 per cent (651,000) had no qualifications. Residents of England were least likely to have no qualifications at 22 per cent (9.7 million).

Residents of London were most likely to have the highest levels of qualification in 2011. Table 2 shows that nine of the top 10 local authorities (or equivalent) in the UK which had the highest proportion of Level 4 or above qualifications in 2011 were London boroughs. This may be related to increased level of graduate employment opportunities in London and surrounding areas. The City of London had the highest proportion of usual residents aged 16 and over with Level 4 or above attainment - more than two thirds of residents achieved this level (68 per cent, 5,000). The London borough of Wandsworth had the second highest proportion of residents with Level 4 or above attainment at 54 per cent (137,000).

The top 10 local authorities (or equivalent) in the UK which had the highest proportion of usual residents aged 16 and over with no qualifications is shown in Table 3. The local government district of Strabane in Northern Ireland ranked the highest with more than two fifths of the population aged 16 and over who reported having no qualifications (41 per cent, 13,000). Blaenau Gwent in Wales had the second highest proportion of usual residents with no qualifications (36 per cent, 21,000).

Map 1 shows the proportion of usual residents in each local authority (or equivalent) in the UK aged 16 and over with a Level 4 or above qualification. Map 2 shows the proportion of usual residents in each local authority (or equivalent) in the UK aged 16 and over with no qualifications.

Map 1: Percentage of usual residents aged 16 and over with Level 4 or above qualifications

Local authorities (1) in the United Kingdom, 2011, Usual residents aged 16 and over

Map 1: Percentage of usual residents aged 16 and over with Level 4 or above qualifications

Notes:
  1. Local authorities or equivalent in the UK: local authorities, unitary authorities and London boroughs in England, unitary authorities in Wales, council areas in Scotland, local government districts in Northern Ireland.

Map 2: Percentage of usual residents aged 16 and over with no qualifications

Local authorities (1) in the United Kingdom, 2011, Usual residents aged 16 and over

Map 2: Percentage of usual residents aged 16 and over with no qualifications

Notes:
  1. Local authorities or equivalent in the UK: local authorities, unitary authorities and London boroughs in England, unitary authorities in Wales, council areas in Scotland, local government districts in Northern Ireland.

Data on qualifications are provided in tables KS501UK and QS501UK

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4. Economic activity and hours worked

In this statistical release, economic activity is presented for all usual residents aged 16 to 74. A usual resident is considered economically active if employed, self-employed or unemployed but looking for work and able to start work within two weeks. Those classified as economically inactive include people not working and not looking for work as they may be retired, students, looking after their home or family, or long-term sick or disabled.

Information on economic activity as collected by the 2011 UK censuses is not directly comparable with 2001 census information due to factors that include changes in the underlying classification and improvements to the questions asked on the census questionnaires. Any comparisons should be treated with caution. Similarly, this report does not compare economic activity data from the 2011 Census with the Labour Force Survey (LFS) because statistics on economic activity derived from the 2011 census may differ to those from the LFS. The ONS report ‘A comparison of the 2011 Census and the Labour Force Survey (LFS) labour market indicators’ discusses the reasons why outputs from the two sources may vary. Any comparisons between census and LFS estimates of economic activity should therefore be treated with caution.

Economic activity

Economic activity is categorised into various groups as shown in Figures 2 and 3. In 2011, 70 per cent (32.3 million) of the usually resident population of the UK aged 16 to 74 were economically active and 30 per cent (14.1 million) were economically inactive. The economically active group was primarily composed of full-time employees (38 per cent, 17.9 million), part-time employees (14 per cent, 6.3 million), the self-employed (9 per cent, 4.4 million), the unemployed (4 per cent, 2.1 million) and full-time students (3 per cent, 1.6 million) in work or looking for work.

The 30 per cent of the UK population aged 16 to 74 who were economically inactive was composed of people who were retired (14 per cent, 6.4 million), students (6 per cent, 2.7 million), long-term sick or disabled (4 per cent, 2.0 million), looking after their home or family (4 per cent, 2.0 million) and others (2 per cent, 1.0 million).

Table 4 shows that England had the highest proportion of economically active usual residents aged 16 to 74 at 70 per cent (27.2 million). This compared with 69 per cent (2.7 million) in Scotland and 66 per cent in both Wales and Northern Ireland (1.5 million and 870,000 respectively). The highest proportion of economically inactive people aged 16 to 74 was observed in both Wales and Northern Ireland at 34 per cent (768,000 and 444,000 respectively). This compared with 31 per cent (1.2 million) in Scotland and 30 per cent in England (11.7 million).

In 2011, 89 per cent (28.6 million) of the economically active population of the UK aged 16 to 74 were in employment (excluding full-time students in employment). England had the highest proportion of usual residents aged 16 to 74 who were in employment at 89 per cent, while the other constituent countries all had a slightly lower proportion than the UK average: 88 per cent in Wales and Scotland, and 87 per cent in Northern Ireland.

According to the 2011 census, 6 per cent (2.1 million) of the economically active population in the UK aged 16 to 74 were unemployed (excluding full-time students looking for work). Of the 2.1 million unemployed, 39 per cent were long-term unemployed (year last worked in 2009 or earlier) and 16 per cent had never worked. More than one quarter (28 per cent) of those who were economically active and unemployed were aged 16 to 24 years. The proportion of the economically active population that were unemployed was similar across the countries if the UK. In England, 6 per cent (1.7 million) of those economically active were unemployed. In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, this proportion was 7 per cent (97,000, 189,000 and 65,000 respectively).

Economic activity by sex

Figure 2 highlights the differences between the proportion of males and females aged 16 to 74 in the different economically active categories. In 2011, economically active females were four times as likely as economically active males to be working part-time: 33 per cent (5.0 million) of females compared with 8 per cent (1.4 million) of males. In contrast, 62 per cent (10.7 million) of economically active males worked full-time compared to 47 per cent (7.1 million) of females. Similarly, economically active males were twice as likely as economically active females to be self-employed: 18 per cent (3.1 million) of males compared with 9 per cent (1.3 million) of females.

Figure 3 compares the economically inactive groups by sex. In 2011, nearly half of all usual residents aged 16 to 74 who were economically inactive, were retired (46 per cent, 6.4 million). The proportion of males and females who were retired were similar at 47 per cent (2.7 million) and 44 per cent (3.7 million) respectively. In contrast, economically inactive females were seven times more likely than males to be ‘looking after home or family’: 22 per cent (1.8 million) of females compared with 3 per cent (190,000) of males.

Data on economic activity are provided in tables KS601UK, KS602UK, KS603UK, QS601UK and QS603UK.

Hours worked

The 2011 UK censuses asked respondents how many hours they worked in a typical week in their main job including paid and unpaid overtime, but excluding second jobs and other voluntary work. In this statistical release, the number of hours worked is classified as part-time if 30 hours or less per week and full-time if 31 hours or more.

In 2011, 64 per cent (29.8 million) of the usually resident population of the UK aged 16 to 74 were in employment (including full-time students). Of these 29.8 million usual residents, 29 per cent (8.7 million) worked part-time (30 hours or less per week) and 71 per cent (21.2 million) worked full-time (31 hours or more per week). The proportion of usual residents working part-time across the constituent countries of the UK were similar and ranged from 28 per cent (706,000) in Scotland to 30 per cent (412,000) in Wales. Correspondingly the proportion working full-time ranged from 70 per cent (952,000) in Wales to 72 per cent (1.8 million) in Scotland.

There is a marked difference in the number of hours worked by males and females aged 16 to 74 in employment in the UK. In 2011, 85 per cent (13.3 million) of men in employment worked full-time compared with 56 per cent (7.9 million) of women in employment. In contrast the proportion women who worked part-time (44 per cent, 6.2 million) was nearly three times the proportion of males who worked part-time (15 per cent, 2.4 million).

Figure 4 shows that the proportion of males and females aged 16 to 74 working full-time and part-time across the countries of the UK in 2011 were very similar.

Figure 4: Hours worked (1)

United Kingdom and constituent countries, 2011, Usual residents aged 16 to 74 in employment

Figure 4: Hours worked (1)

Source: Census - Office for National Statistics, National Records of Scotland, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Notes:
  1. ‘Part-time’ is defined as working 30 hours or less per week. ‘Full-time’ is defined as working 31 hours or more per week.

Data on hours worked are provided in tables KS604UK and QS604UK.

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5. Year last worked

The ‘Year last worked’ question was asked to all respondents who were not in employment in the week before the census. In 2011, 36 per cent (16.6 million) of usual residents aged 16 to 74 in the UK were not in employment in the week before the census. For people who were not in employment but had been previously employed, the year last worked is the year they were last employed.

Table 5 shows the year last worked by those aged 16 to 74 for the UK and constituent countries. In 2011, 17 per cent (7.8 million) of usual residents in the UK aged 16 to 74 had never worked or had last worked more than 10 years ago, an increase of two percentage points compared with 2001 (15 per cent, 6.3 million). This accounted for nearly half (47 per cent) of all those aged 16 to 74 who were not in employment in the UK in 2011.

Northern Ireland had the highest proportion of usual residents in 2011 who had never worked or had last worked more than 10 years ago (22 per cent, 284,000). The equivalent proportion was 19 per cent (438,000) for Wales, 17 per cent (662,000) for Scotland and 16 per cent (6.4 million) for England.

Data on year last worked is provided in table QS612UK.

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6. Industry

For the 2011 UK censuses, the industry of employment was derived from information provided by respondents about the main activity of their employer or business and was coded using the Standard Industrial Classification 2007 (SIC 2007). In 2001 a different classification was used to code responses. This, in conjunction with improvements to the question asked in 2011, means that direct comparisons between the two sets of census results are not possible for this topic.

Table 6 shows that the largest industry of employment in the UK in 2011 was the ‘Wholesale and retail trade’ sector which accounted for 16 per cent (4.7 million) of usual residents aged 16 to 74 in employment in the week before the census.

The ‘Wholesale and retail trade’ sector was also the largest employer in each UK country, accounting for 16 per cent (4.0 million) of employed usual residents aged 16 to 74 in England, 16 per cent (213,000) in Wales and 18 per cent (139,000) in Northern Ireland. In Scotland, the ‘Wholesale and retail trade’ and the ‘Human health and social work’ sectors were jointly the largest employers in Scotland, each accounting for 15 per cent (377,000) of employed usual residents aged 16 to 74.

The largest employer of males in the UK in 2011 was again the ‘Wholesale and retail’ sector (16 per cent, 2.5 million). The second largest employer of males was the ‘Construction’ sector (13 per cent, 2.0 million) closely followed by the ‘Manufacturing’ sector (13 per cent, 2.0 million). In contrast, the largest employer for females in the UK was the ‘Human health and social work’ sector (21 per cent, 3.0 million). The ‘Wholesale and retail’ sector was the second largest employer of females (16 per cent, 2.3 million) followed by the ‘Education’ sector (15 per cent, 2.1 million).

Data on industry are provided in tables KS605UK, KS606UK, KS607UK and QS605UK.

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7. Occupation

In the 2011 UK censuses, the occupation of employment is derived from information provided by respondents about what they did in their main job and their job title. These responses were then classified into occupation groups using the Standard Occupation Classification 2010 (SOC 2010). In the 2001 a different classification was used to classify responses, therefore direct comparisons between the two sets of census results are not possible for this topic.

The three largest occupational groups in 2011 for usual residents aged 16 to 74 in employment in the UK were: ‘Professional occupations’ (17 per cent, 5.2 million), ‘Associate professional and technical occupations’ (13 per cent, 3.8 million) and ‘Skilled trades occupations’ (12 per cent, 3.5 million). The smallest occupational group was ‘Process, plant and machine operatives’ which accounted for 7 per cent (2.2 million) of usual residents aged 16-74 in employment. In 2011, the ‘Professional occupations’ group was also the largest occupational group in each constituent country of the UK and ‘Process, plant and machine operatives’ was the also smallest occupational group in each country.

A number of occupation groups consisted mainly of female employees while others consisted of mainly male employees. Figure 5 shows that in 2011, around four in five of all those employed in ‘Administrative and secretarial occupations’, and ‘Caring, leisure and other service occupations’ groups were female (78 per cent and 82 per cent respectively). In contrast male employees dominated the ‘Skilled trades occupations’ and ‘Process, plant and machine operatives occupations’ where they accounted for 89 per cent and 88 per cent respectively of those employed in these occupation groups.

Data on occupation are provided in tables KS608UK, KS609UK, KS610UK and QS606UK.

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8. National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SeC)

The National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SeC) provides an indication of the socio-economic position of people based on their occupation title, combined with employment status, whether they are employed or self-employed, and whether they supervise other employees (and, if so, how many employees they supervise). For the purpose of 2011 UK census statistics on NS-SeC, full-time students are recorded in the full-time students category regardless of whether or not they are economically active.

Figure 6 shows that in 2011 the three largest NS-SeC groups in the UK for usual residents aged 16 to 74 were: ‘Lower managerial, administrative and professional occupations (21 per cent, 9.6 million); ‘Semi-routine occupations (14 per cent, 6.6 million) and ‘Intermediate occupations (13 per cent, 5.9 million). Excluding the ‘Never worked and long-term unemployed’ category, the smallest NS-SeC group was ‘Lower supervisory and technical occupations’ at 7 per cent (3.3 million).

‘Lower managerial, administrative and professional occupations’ was also the NS-SeC group with the highest proportion of the population in each constituent UK country. In line with the UK, both England and Northern Ireland had the smallest proportion of usual residents belonging to the ‘Lower supervisory and technical occupations’ group. In Scotland the smallest NS-SeC group was however ‘Small employers and own account workers’ and in Wales it was ‘Higher managerial, administrative and professional occupations’

Figure 7 compares the different socio-economic groups by sex for the UK. In 2011, the largest percentage point difference was seen in the ‘Intermediate occupations’ group with 19 per cent (4.4 million) of females belonging to this category compared with 7 per cent (1.6 million) of males. This NS-SeC group includes clerical, administrative and sales and service occupations. In contrast, there were more than twice as many males as females in the ‘Small employers and own account workers’ and ‘Lower supervisory and technical occupations’ groups: 13 per cent (3.0 million) of males compared with 5 per cent (1.3 million) of females, and 10 per cent (2.3 million) of males compared with 4 per cent (939,000) of females respectively.

Data on NS-SeC is provided in tables KS611UK, KS612UK, KS613UK and QS607UK.

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9. Appendix 1: 2011 UK Censuses – ‘Qualifications Held’ Question by Country

England

‘Qualifications Held’ Question by Country - England

Wales

‘Qualifications Held’ Question by Country - Wales

Scotland

‘Qualifications Held’ Question by Country - Scotland

Northern Ireland

‘Qualifications Held’ Question by Country - Northern Ireland

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10. Appendix 2: Assignment of qualifications held to highest level of qualification categories presented in 2011 UK census outputs

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11 .Background notes

  1. Simultaneous but separate censuses took place in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. These were run by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) for England and Wales, National Records of Scotland (NRS) for Scotland and Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) for Northern Ireland.

  2. ONS is responsible for the publication of UK statistics (compiling comparable statistics from the UK statistical agencies above).

  3. The census provides estimates of the characteristics of all people and households in the UK on census day, 27 March 2011. These are produced for a variety of users including government, local authority areas, business and communities. The census provides statistics from a national to a local level. This bulletin discusses the results for the UK as a whole, for the four UK constituent countries and for local authority areas in the UK.

  4. For the 2011 Census, a usual resident of the UK is anyone who, on census day 2011, was in the UK and had stayed or intended to stay in the UK for a period of 12 months or more, or had a permanent UK address and was outside the UK and intended to be outside the UK for less than 12 months.

  5. A person’s place of usual residence is in most cases the address at which they stay the majority of the time. For many people this will be their permanent or family home. If a member of the armed services did not have a permanent or family address at which they were usually resident, they were recorded as usually resident at their base address.

  6. Figures and percentages may not sum exactly due to rounding.

  7. In this statistical bulletin, percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number for ease of reading. Figures in the bulletin tables, charts and text are rounded to the nearest thousand, or to one decimal place if quoted in millions.

  8. Due to definitional and other differences, the UK census estimates of economic activity may differ from other sources such as the Labour Force Survey (LFS). A recently published report discusses the reasons why outputs from the two sources may vary. The most authoritative and up-to-date information on the UK labour market and economic activity are labour market statistics from the LFS published by ONS. The census is valuable in providing a detailed picture at the time of the census of the characteristics of the economically active population.

  9. In this statistical release, full-time students who are economically active (in employment or looking for work and able to start within two weeks) are included in the ‘Economically active: Full-time student’ category only. In other labour market statistics, economically active full-time students are generally included within the relevant categories of employed and unemployed.

  10. Further information on the methodology and quality assurance processes used to produce 2011 Census estimates is available from the ONS, NRS and NISRA websites for their respective countries.

  11. The Statement of Agreement (5.01 Mb Pdf) of the National Statistician and the Registrars General for Scotland and Northern Ireland ensures that the independent censuses carried out in each constituent country of the UK are able to provide consistent and high quality statistics that meet user requirements for UK level data.

  12. There will be further releases of data from the 2011 Census; information is available online in the 2011 Census prospectuses for each country: England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Further information on forthcoming UK releases can be found within the ONS Census Prospectus.

  13. Copyright © Crown copyright 2013

    You may use or re-use this information (not including logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence, or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: psi@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk.

  14. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Peter Stokes
census.customerservices@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1329 444972