GKB: Geodemographics Knowledge Base

It’s now only a year and a half to the next Census Day – 21 March 2021. And, only two and half years until we plan to release the first outputs from the Census.  At ONS we’re busy developing our plans for how the census will work, what will be in it and what the outputs will look like.

One of the big milestones in the coming year is the 2019 Rehearsal.  The rehearsal will enable the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to test some of the systems and processes it has put in place ahead of the digital-first 2021 Census. As the census only takes place every ten years it is important we hold an operational rehearsal to ensure that all our processes run smoothly.

Residents of four areas of England and Wales will be taking part in a rehearsal that will ensure the overall success of the 2021 Census. People in Carlisle, Ceredigion, Hackney and Tower Hamlets will be asked to complete a questionnaire about those living in their household on 13 October 2019.

The four locations include urban, rural and mixed areas with varying internet coverage, places where there are Welsh speakers, students and residents of a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities. More details on how we chose the areas are here.

Late last year, the UK Statistics Authority made its recommendations on the content and conduct of the 2021 Census in a White Paper.

The recommendations include the proposal that, for the first time, the 2021 Census for England and Wales will be predominantly online.  We intend to make it easy to respond online on all devices, including mobiles and tablets, with Assisted Digital face-to-face help available for those who need it. Paper questionnaires will also be available.

There will be questions on gender identity (while keeping the existing question on sex) and sexual orientation for those aged 16 and over. As with the question on religious affiliation introduced in the 2001 Census, we believe these new questions should be voluntary and no individual should have to answer these questions if they prefer not to.

We will continue to ask questions on key themes including carers, demography, education, ethnicity and national identity, health, housing, labour market, language, migration and citizenship, and religion. A full list of topics is available within the White Paper (page 32).

The White Paper also sets out confidentiality provisions for personal data collection and digital security, and plans for the publication of, and access to, 2021 Census data.

Last year we ran a consultation on our initial view on 2021 Census output content design. Our vision is for flexible, timely and accessible census outputs. We want to make as many data available at the lowest geographic levels and as easily as possible, so users can access the data they need, whilst protecting confidentiality.

Overall, users agreed with our proposed output content and approach for disseminating 2021 Census data. There was strong support for our strategy to disseminate census data using a flexible dissemination system and the associated statistical disclosure control approach. We’ll continue to develop the products we outlined in the consultation.

Most importantly, we’ll continue to closely engage with users throughout the duration of the design and dissemination of outputs. This is to ensure we’re able to deliver products that meet their needs and address user concerns. You can read our response to the consultation here.

We value the contribution the MRS CGG makes to consultations, our Advisory Groups and the wider development of the Census design.

If you want to find out more about the 2021 Census, please do sign up to our message list to keep up to date with developments or contact us at 2021Census.Engagement@ons.gov.uk.

Neil Townsend
Head of Partnerships,
Communications Division,
Office for National Statistics


Geodemographics - blogs and resources

Visit the Geodemographics Knowledge Base (GKB) for expert blogs and links to useful sources of geodemographic data and knowledge.

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