Sunday 21 March 2021

What is a census and why is it important?

The next census in England and Wales will take place on 21 March 2021, and will be administered by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The census seeks to collect demographic information from all households and communal establishments.


The 2021 census will be the first to be carried out primarily online.

Census data provides a level of detail that isn’t possible from other government surveys – information is available about small population groups, and for small geographic areas.

Census data contributes to policy decisions, including local government funding allocations, and provides a benchmark for other official statistics.

The ONS target is to have 75% of census returns completed online, with the remainder completed on traditional paper forms.

Most households will receive a unique code in the post which will allow them to complete their census returns online.