Ok so that’s not quite true. I’ve been working with a focus on population and society statistics for the past three years here at the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) and I love it. Working on areas such as migration, culture, wellbeing… it is fascinating. These statistics form such an important role in people, government and decision makers understanding and planning for our society in this country.

But even with my work hat off for a second, this is such an exciting time for statistics as we near Census day in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and work continues to prepare for Scotland’s Census in 2022. The Census is so important and a unique source of data. It will be used by many different people for many different purposes. For me, I think Census data can be most valuable when it is used to support how people understand their local communities, whether it be by local councils, community groups or even school students.  I am so eager to play my part and fill in my Census return – online this time of course.

Work hat back on and I have been leading OSR’s assessment of the Censuses in the UK. Undertaking this assessment is the role OSR has when it comes to Census data and statistics. We aren’t collecting the returns or producing the data but we are working closely with the Census offices to ensure what they are doing, ultimately delivering Census data and statistics to the public, is in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

We collect evidence from Census offices, speak with users of Census data, make our judgements on compliance with the Code; reporting on this through our formal assessment reports and public correspondence with Census offices. That is the nuts and bolts of the assessment process. The reality of the assessment and OSR’s involvement is that we are continuously engaging with Census offices as they are developing and delivering their Census plans to support the best possible outcomes. We meet with Census offices regularly to discuss their work, share our views on their developments, and talk through how they have taken forward our findings. It has kept me busy since 2018 and will continue to do so until well after the data and statistics are published.

This ongoing conversation as part of the assessment is overlaid with a more formal reporting structure. We have completed phase 1 of the assessment and are kicking off phase 2 for England and Wales and Northern Ireland. For each phase of the assessment, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) publish an accreditation report. These reports provide an update to Census users on how they consider the practices, processes and procedures for Census 2021 meet the standards of the Code. This provides OSR with evidence for our assessment and more importantly provides useful information on progress on the Census for all who are interested. You should definitely take a read!

We are always keen to hear from users of Census data and I have had some extremely valuable conversations with individuals and organisations to date – a big thank you if you have submitted feedback or if we have spoken in the past. As part of this second phase, we have opened up our user consultation once more . Your views and opinions are so important to help us understand what Census offices are doing well and how things could be improved. So please, do find out more and get in touch.

I hope you all are as excited as I am as we get closer to 21 March!