1. Output Areas (OAs)

Output Areas (OAs) are the lowest level of geographical area for census statistics and were first created following the 2001 Census. Using Census 2021 data, some changes were made to 2011 OAs as a result of population and household changes since 2001. Additionally, around 200 OA boundaries were selectively realigned to ward boundaries.

2011 OAs that were still made up of between 40 and 250 households and had a usually resident population between 100 and 625 persons did not change. Otherwise, new 2011 OAs were created by merging or splitting 2001 OAs to make sure they fitted within the population and household thresholds of the unchanged 2011 OAs.

There are some exceptions where OAs may have more than 625 people, for example, where there is a large prison.

Outputs from Census 2021 are for 2021 OAs and are made up of unchanged 2011 OAs and new 2021 OAs.

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2. Lower layer Super Output Areas (LSOAs)

Lower layer Super Output Areas (LSOAs) are made up of groups of OAs, usually four or five. They comprise between 400 and 1,200 households and have a usually resident population between 1,000 and 3,000 persons.

Using Census 2021 data, some changes were made to 2011 LSOAs as a result of population and household changes since 2011. New 2021 LSOAs were created by merging or splitting 2011 LSOAs to ensure that population and household thresholds were met.

Outputs from Census 2021 are for 2021 LSOAs and are made up of unchanged 2011 LSOAs and new 2021 LSOAs.

There are 33,755 LSOAs in England and 1,917 in Wales. View and download the names and codes of LSOAs on our Open Geography website.

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3. Middle layer Super Output Areas (MSOAs)

Middle layer Super Output Areas (MSOAs) are made up of groups of LSOAs, usually four or five. They comprise between 2,000 and 6,000 households and have a usually resident population between 5,000 and 15,000 persons. MSOAs fit within local authorities.

Outputs from Census 2021 are for 2021 MSOAs and are made up of unchanged 2011 MSOAs and new 2021 MSOAs.

There are 6,856 MSOAs in England and 408 in Wales. View and download the names and codes of the MSOAs on our Open Geography website.

OAs, LSOAs and MSOAs make up the different levels of the census statistical geographies.

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4. Wards

For Census outputs, statistics will be available for wards as at 5 May 2022. There are 6,904 wards in England and 762 in Wales.

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5. Parishes

Civil parishes are mainly found in rural areas in England. In Wales they are known as "communities" and cover the whole of the country. Councillors are elected to a parish council and carry out powers and duties set out in legislation.

As at 2022, there are 10,480 parishes in England and 878 communities in Wales.

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6. Built-up extents and built-up settlements

Built-up extents and built-up settlements are areas that have urban characteristics and include settlements such as villages, towns and cities. The built-up extents and built-up settlements are new enhanced versions of the 2011 Census built-up areas and built-up area sub-divisions, based on Census 2021 data.

Built-up settlements are areas that have been broken up from larger built-up extents to make smaller areas.

Following Census 2021, the built-up extents and built-up settlements are currently being finalised, further information will be available in September 2022.

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7. Workplace zones

A workplace zone is an area where people work.

They were designed so that they have similar numbers of workers in them, between 200 and 625 workers.

The current Workplace zones were made up by splitting and merging the 2011 Output Areas (OAs). They fit within the 2011 MSOA boundaries.

We are working to check what impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had on how respondents answered questions related to their workplace. We are considering whether to update the 2011 Workplace zones using Census 2021.

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8. Travel To Work Areas

A Travel To Work Area is an area where a large proportion of workers both live and work.

The current 228 Travel To Work Areas covering the UK are based on 2011 Census commuting data.

We are working to check what impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had on how respondents answered questions related to their workplace. We are considering whether to update the 2011 Workplace zones using Census 2021.

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9. Geographies used in Scotland’s 2022 Census

Scotland's Census took place a year after the rest of the UK, in March 2022. Read about Scotland's output plans on Scotland's Census website.

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10. Geographies used in Northern Ireland’s 2021 Census

Read about the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) plans for releasing Census 2021 statistics..

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