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The Census takes place every year and aims to provide a ‘snapshot’ of UK life (Picture: PA)
There are just hours to go to fill out the 2021 Census and you risk a fine of £1,000 if you don’t make the deadline.
People in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are today being asked to complete an online questionnaire to provide a snapshot of life across the UK.
The once-in-a-decade survey asks the public to answer questions about every person living in their household, including their age, race, education and employment and health statuses.
For the first time, over-16s will be asked to answer voluntary questions on gender identity and sexual orientation.
Here’s our breakdown on the 2021 Census and what you need to do.
What is the Census and when does it take place?
The Census is an official count of every person and household in the UK on a given day – this year is Sunday March 21.
It has taken place every 10 years since 1801, excluding 1941, and is run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in England and Wales and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.
Scotland’s Census has been delayed until March 2022 due to the pandemic.
It provides the most accurate data on who lives in the UK and what they do. This year is set to provide a long-lasting impression of how Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic have impacted the country.
The ONS says it aims to create a ‘detailed snapshot of our society’ to help the Government and local authorities plan and fund services such as roads, education and GP surgeries by using statistics pulled from the huge survey.
Charities, hospitals, schools, universities, job centres and others also use the data to help improve their services.
The survey needs to be filled out today (Picture: PA)
How long does it take and what information do I need to provide?
This year’s Census will mostly be completed online due to the pandemic.
Officials say it takes around 10 minutes to complete the household questions and a further 10 minutes per person for individual questions.
You will be asked for details on every household member’s sex, age, ethnicity, occupation, education and relationship status.
There are also questions on your main language, national identity, living circumstances and even your commute to work if you are not working from home currently.
You do not have to answer any questions marked as voluntary. Some, such as those on religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, are not mandatory.
How do I fill in the form and when is the deadline?
All households should have already received letters with an access code to log into the form online via a computer, tablet or smartphone.
Access the form by visiting census.gov.uk, click ‘start census’ and you will be asked to enter your household’s 16-character access code.
When you’re finished completing the questions, remember to click ‘submit’ otherwise your details won’t save and you could be fined.
The Census should be completed on Census day itself – today.
The survey aims to help provide a better picture of who lives in the country and what they do (Picture: PA)
Do I legally have to fill in the form?
Yes, everyone must complete the Census by law otherwise you could be committing a crime.
You could be prosecuted and fined up to £1,000 if you do not fill it out or if you provide false information.
Every householder at an address is responsible for completing a Census questionnaire. They can answer the individual questions for all household members or make sure each member fills in their own.
People staying in the UK for less than three months do not have to fill it in but everyone else must do so.
Students – even those away on a year abroad – people with no fixed address, and those living in canal boats, care homes, refuges or serving in the armed forces must complete the Census.
Anyone who does not complete a Census will be contacted by the non-compliance team and PPE-cladded field officers will be sent to such households.
They will first encourage you to complete the form and help people to access any support needed to do so. If you still fail to fill it in, you will be committing a crime.
This year’s Census will provide a better picture of how the pandemic has impacted people (Picture: PA)
Will my data be private?
Your personal information provided on the Census is only used for statistical purposes, assured the ONS.
It will never sell or share personal information with anyone, including the Government or immigration authorities.
Peter Benton, director of population and public policy operations at the ONS, told the BBC: ‘The Census data is confidential.
‘We don’t pass it to Government, to the local authorities, to the immigration authorities; it stays locked away for 100 years – apart from the aggregate statistics that we produce.
‘If I were in the office now, underneath my desk we have a basement, and that has all of the 1921 forms in it, and they’re currently being scanned and digitised so that in 2022, 100 years later they’ll finally see the light of day.’
What is different about the 2021 Census?
For the first time in the Census’ 220-year history, the ONS has included voluntary questions on gender identity and sexual orientation for over-16s.
This will allow statisticians to put together the first ‘robust data’ available on the number of LGBTQ people living across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Iain Bell, deputy national statistician at the ONS, said: ‘While there are estimates of sexual orientation at a national and regional level, it is not possible to produce robust estimates for all local authorities – that’s what census data will give.
‘Without robust data on the size of the LGBT population at a national and local level, decision-makers are operating in a vacuum, unaware of the extent and nature of disadvantage which LGBT people may be experiencing in terms of health, educational outcomes, employment and housing.’
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