Office for National Statistics (ONS)
The 2011 Census - Briefing Note - July 2009
The 2011 Census White Paper 'Helping to shape tomorrow' (Cm 7513) was presented to
Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales in December 2008. This announces the UK
Statistics Authority's proposals for the 2011 Census in England and Wales. It sets out the
questions proposed for inclusion and highlights the changes in methodology. It also
emphasises the high priority of data security and confidentiality.
Next Legislative Steps
A Census Order will be laid before parliament (planned for November 2009) for approval by
February 2010. The Order will prescribe the date of the census, who is to be included, the
persons responsible for making a return, and the information to be collected. Following
approval of the Census Order, the Census Regulations will be made. They must be agreed
by Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales by March 2010 in order to enable field
staff to be appointed in sufficient time before the census.
Proposed Date of the Census
The Government has decided, in agreement with the UK Statistics Authority, that the next
Census of Population should be taken in England and Wales on Sunday 27 March 2011.
There will be censuses in Scotland and Northern Ireland on the same day.
Proposed Census Questions
Consultation on the topic content for the 2011 Census resulted in a much larger demand for
questions than is possible to accommodate on a form that households could reasonably be
expected to complete. Topics that will be new to the 2011 Census include:
• Number of bedrooms, type of central heating and questions about second residences;
• Citizenship, National Identity and Language;
• Month and year of entry into the UK and intended length of stay;
There will also be additional response categories in the ethnicity question.
Proposed Delivery and Return of Census Forms
Forms will primarily be delivered by post (to as many as 95 per cent of households). ONS is
therefore developing an address register that meets Census requirements in terms of quality
and coverage. The public will be able to return completed forms online, as well as by post or
doorstep collection. Help will be available to anyone who has difficulty in completing the
ONS have started a programme of user consultation on 2011 Census Outputs, which
includes a blog. An initial online survey ended in May but further consultations on the detail
of output content will take place later after finalisation of the Census form.
Further Detailed Information
ONS 2011 Census Home Page: http://www.ons.gov.uk/census/2011-census/index.html
Population Trends (articles re Census questions and methodology in 2009 Spring and
Summer editions): http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vlnk=6303
Census White Paper: http://www.ons.gov.uk/census/2011-census/2011-census-
Census Output Consultation Blog http://www.ukcensusoutputs.net/