Households across Wigan will soon be asked to take part in Census 2021.
We've put together the following information to make sure any queries or concerns you may have are covered.
What is the census?
The census is a survey that happens every 10 years and gives us a picture of all the people and households in England and Wales. The information you provide helps decide how public services are planned and funded in your local area. This could mean things like doctors’ surgeries, housing or new bus routes.
It asks questions about you and your household to build a picture of all of us. It looks at who we are and how we live. There’s no other survey that gives as much information about our society and future needs.
Taking part in the census is your chance to help make sure you and your community get the services you need for the next 10 years and beyond.
When is it happening?
Census day is on Sunday, 21st March 2021. Your household will receive a letter in the post in early March, giving you details on how to take part in the mandatory survey.
You will also receive a unique access code, inviting you to complete the survey online, although paper questionnaires are available on request (external link).
Results will be available within 12 months, although personal records will be locked away for 100 years, kept safe for future generations.
Why should I take part?
The census helps us understand what our society needs now and what it will likely need in the future. The information it collects helps with decisions on the planning and funding of services in your area. This may include schools, doctors’ surgeries, emergency services or even local support groups.
Charities also use census information to help get the funding they need. Businesses use it to decide where to set up, which creates job opportunities.
What is different about this census?
For the first time, it will be a primarily online census, making it easy for most people to complete the census on any device. Whilst the census will be digital first, online support centres and paper questionnaires (external link) will be available for those who need them.
People will also be able to complete the census over the phone with help from trained staff via our free phone contact centre on 0800 141 2021.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) aim to provide in-person support to complete the census online through Census Support Centres where it is safe to do so.
How do I request a paper version of the census?
The census this year will be an online survey. However, if you want to fill in a paper census, you can request an individual paper questionnaire to be sent in the post.
What are the questions going to be?
The census will include questions about your sex, age, work, health, education, household size and ethnicity. And, for the first time, there will be a question asking people whether they have served in the armed forces, as well as voluntary questions for those aged 16 and over on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Robust data on the LGBTQ+ population is needed by local authorities and service providers to design and provide the right services and to monitor their effectiveness.
How long will it take?
The census will take around 10 minutes per person to complete. It’s easy to do and can be done on any device, including a computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone.
What if I don't speak English or Welsh?
Translation booklets are available to download (external link). If your language is not represented, please contact us on 0800 141 2021.
How can I get help to complete my questionnaire?
Help to complete your census is available on the census website (external link). You’ll find a wide range of support, including:
- General guidance
- Language assistance
- New access code or paper census
- Accessible paper versions of the questionnaire
- Video and audio guides (in English and Welsh).
You can also phone 0800 141 2021 or visit one of our support centres offering assistance.
Operating in line with the government’s latest COVID-19 guidance, field officers will be deployed across the country to contact those who have not responded. They will offer help and advice to those who need it. They will also remind people that their census response is required by law.
What happens if I don't complete my questionnaire?
Your census response is required by law. Everyone in England and Wales must complete a census or be included on a census for the place where they’re living or staying.
It is an offence to supply false information or to not complete the census, and you could be fined up to £1,000 and face a criminal record. Some questions are clearly labelled as voluntary. It is not an offence if you do not answer these.
Why are we having a census during a pandemic?
There’s never been a more important time to have a census. After a year of living with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Census 2021 will be essential to our long-term understanding of the health, social and economic impacts on the people and households of England and Wales.
The census will shed light on the needs of different groups and communities, and the inequalities people are experiencing, ensuring the big decisions facing the country following the pandemic and EU exit are based on the best information possible.
Will my data be safe?
Yes. The safety of your information is our top priority. You cannot be identified in the statistics we publish. The personal information you give us is protected by law. Your census record is kept secure for 100 years and only then can it be seen by future generations.
I want to answer separately from my household
If you need to answer separately from the people you live with, you can request an individual access code to start a separate census.
If you fill in an individual questionnaire, your personal information will not be shared with anyone else in your household. For example, this means your parents, housemates or landlord won't see your answers. No one in your household will be told that you have requested an individual access code.
What if I’m away on census day?
If you're away from the UK on census day (21st March 2021) for less than 12 months, you should still be counted in the census. You should be included on the form at your permanent or family address.
If there's someone staying or living in your home and they’re filling in the household form, they should include you there. If there's no one at home, please fill it in as soon as you get back. You can also use your access code to complete the census online while you're away.
I’m staying in the UK for less than three months
You are not responsible for filling in the census if you’re staying in the UK for less than three months. The owner, accommodation manager or householder where you’re staying may ask you some questions so that they can fill in the census about the people staying there.
Further information and advice