• there were 9 new topics included in the 2011 Census: number of bedrooms, type of central heating, second address, month and year of arrival in the UK, intended length of stay in the UK, national identity, passports held, main language and visitor information

  • reoccurring census required by law under the 1920 Census Act

  • census information is available for the last 210 years - every 10 years since 1801 (apart from 1941)

  • the latest census was held on Sunday 27 March 2011

Every 10 years since 1801, the nation has conducted a census - an estimate of all people and households in England and Wales. It is the most complete source of information about the population and is unique because it covers everyone at the same time and asks the same core questions. This makes it easy to compare different parts of the country. It is the only source of directly comparable statistics for both small areas and minority population groups across England and Wales.

For the 2011 Census around 25 million pre-addressed questionnaires were posted out to all households using a specially developed national address register. Householders were given the choice to submit their answers online or by post. A team of approximately 30,000 collectors were then deployed to follow up households who had not returned a completed questionnaire within the allotted time.

No census is perfect and some people are inevitably missed. We use complex statistical techniques to adjust the census counts for those people missed.

The information the census provides allows central and local government, health authorities and many other organisations to target their resources more effectively and to plan housing, education, health and transport services. It is also used as a 10 yearly benchmark for our annual mid-year population estimates, which are vital to central and local government for planning, monitoring and resource allocation.

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