The Census is a once-in-a-decade survey organised by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), and gives us the most accurate estimates of all people and households in England and Wales. It collects data on characteristics including education, religion, ethnicity, working life and health. Census day took place on 21 March 2021.
The Census gives decision-makers in national and local government, community groups, charities and business the opportunity to better serve communities and individuals, underpinning decision making on provision of services such as education, housing and healthcare. The population estimates from the Census are also used to allocate public money to a range of organisations including the devolved administrations, local government and the health service.
Census population estimates are vital in helping to shape the communities in which we live and work, as they:
- underpin policy making and council funding allocation from central government;
- provide information to help plan and prioritise service delivery;
- give a benchmark for estimates of population between censuses; and
- provide unique detailed demographic information about local small area populations.
It is important that Census estimates are accurate so that funding and services can be put in the places where they are needed. In between Censuses, central government funding is allocated locally based on the ONS’s mid-year population estimates. The Census acts as an important sense check and reset to these mid-year population estimates.
Census 2021 in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Liaison Team for Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough Council is co-ordinating work around Census 2021. This work has spanned several years and includes:
- Participating in the ONS’s Census Advisory Group.
- Working closely with the ONS Census Engagement Managers for our areas in preparing for Census 2021, reaching out to our communities, to inform, engage and promote Census participation.
- Establishing the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Census 2021 Network, a forum to bring together Cambridgeshire and Peterborough councils to share ideas and working practices, work collaboratively where we can, support one another and avoid potential duplication of work around Census 2021. The forum meets regularly and has worked together to maximise Census response rates across our area all the way through to quality assuring the provisional Census estimates received from the ONS;
- Liaising with the ONS Census 2021 Quality Assurance team on data validation and quality assurance for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, providing local data to highlight areas of concern
- Working closely with district and city councils to participate in the Local Authority Quality Assurance process with the ONS. This process completed on 25th April. It involved the ONS providing provisional aggregated census population and household estimates to a limited number of representatives from each local authority (LA), under the strict terms of a non disclosure agreement. We reviewed the data provided and fed back any inconsistencies that may require further investigation by the ONS. This feedback was corroborated by evidence using locally held data sources.
- Undertaking a User Needs’ Survey for local Census 2021 data, to help the Business Intelligence Research Team to formulate its plans for the publication of Census 2021 data.
Read our Census 2021 newsletters to get an update on our work programme:
High rates of online completion
Census 2021 was the first digital-first census Overall, 97% of households across England and Wales responded to Census 2021. The ONS had set a pre-census target of at least 75% online completion – this target was exceeded, with 88.9% of households responding to the census choosing to do so on a digital device. Mobile phone was the most common way of completing the electronic questionnaire, with 56.4% of households choosing to do so that way. Nearly 35% used a desktop computer, while 9% used a tablet. View our Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Online Share of Census 2021 Responses, including maps for each district showing the proportion of households that responded to Census 2021 online.
Publication of Census 2021 data
The ONS has recently announced that it will publish the first data from Census 2021 at 11am on 28th June 2022. This will include five datasets containing population and household estimates for England and for Wales, rounded to the nearest 100, at local authority level. These are:
- usual resident population by sex
- usual resident population by 5-year age group
- usual resident population by sex and 5-year age group
- usual resident population density
- number of households
The ONS then aims to release topic summaries roughly every two to three weeks over the Autumn / Winter 2022, with the exact timing of these releases yet to be announced. Each topic summary will include data tables for single variables (univariate) down to the most detailed geographies. The order of release of these topic summaries is:
- Demography and migration
- Ethnic group, national identity, language and religion
- Health, disability, and unpaid care
- Labour market and travel to work
- Sexual orientation and gender
- UK armed forces veterans.
The ONS will provide further updates to its plans for the release and publication of Census 2021 data on its website: ONS plans for publication of Census 2021 outputs.
Following completion of Phase 1, the ONS will begin Phase 2 of the census outputs programme. This is when multivariate data and more complex analysis based on usual resident population will begin to be released, and this is expected to begin in Winter 2022 / 2023. Phase 3 will then follow, and this will see the start of publication of data related to alternative population bases, small population data, origin destination data and micro-data. The release timings for Phases 2 and 3 are yet to be announced.
The ONS held a consultation on the Census 2021 outputs in the Summer of 2021. The findings from the consultation were published in two parts and are available on the ONS website: ONS Census 2021 outputs consultation.
ONS publishes provisional Census 2021 data in response to Russian invasion of Ukraine
In certain exceptional circumstances, the National Statistician can give authority to share data with policymakers ahead of publication. The ONS has published preliminary counts of country of birth by local authority for Ukraine and neighbouring or relevant countries to help local and national emergency response planning. These are not final census estimates but they are the best available at the present time – the final published data will differ.