The Census is one of the most important sources of official statistics, informing decisions about almost every aspect of life within the UK. The three Census offices – the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the National Records of Scotland (NRS) and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) – continue to prepare to deliver the Censuses in the UK and secure the real value of the Censuses which will be realised on the release of Census outputs.
We recognise that 2020 has brought a new set of challenges when it comes to delivering the Census. Census teams in ONS, NRS, and NISRA continue to assess the impact of COVID-19 and to understand the implications on their planning and delivery. In the case of Scotland Census, it was announced that the Census date is to be moved to March 2022. As more information becomes available, it will be very important that Census offices keep users up to date to explain any impacts on Census data and statistics.
The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is carrying out an assessment of the UK Censuses to allow us to recommend whether the Census outputs should be designated as National Statistics when they are first released. National Statistics designation means the data and statistics are reliable and provide valuable insights; that they meet the standards of trustworthiness, quality and value outlined in the Code of Practice for Statistics.
In October 2019, we published our first assessment report with a number of preliminary findings, or areas where we think the three Census offices could make improvements, to help inform their planning and developments. Today we have sent letters to each of the Census offices – in these letters we set out how they have responded to our findings and our views on this. While many of the Phase 1 findings can only be fully actioned or addressed over longer timescales, we are pleased to say that all three Census offices have taken on board our findings and we are seeing improvements in a number of areas which should benefit Census data users and other stakeholders.
The assessment work for the Census in UK continues, and as ever we welcome the views of Census data users to help inform our thinking. We are particularly keen to hear from those who are interested in and use data from across the three Censuses in the UK. If you would like to contact OSR please email firstname.lastname@example.org or if you would prefer to speak in person please call Marie McGhee – 01329 447702.