Assessment of Censuses in the UK

We are carrying out an assessment of the Censuses in the UK, produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the National Records of Scotland (NRS) and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). We will be assessing the extent to which the Censuses meet the professional standards set out in the statutory  Code of Practice for Statistics.

In October 2019, we published our first report as part of the assessment – Assessment of 2021 Censuses in the UK: Preliminary findings. Our report highlighted areas of good practice and innovation in Census planning and development as well as identifying some areas where improvements could be made. These findings build on the existing work being undertaken by Census offices, to provide further direction and focus on their existing plans. In September 2020 we wrote to ONS, NRS and NISRA with our views on how they responded to our preliminary findings.

The next phase of the assessment will involve revisiting the work of the Census offices through the running of the Census itself. We will be publicly reporting on our findings and will aim to be in a position to make a decision on the National Statistics designation of the first Census outputs. Given the different timing for the Censuses to be undertaken and first outputs to be delivered, the reporting of our findings and designation decisions will vary between the different Census offices. In autumn 2021, we plan to publish a second assessment report on the Censuses in England and Wales, and Northern Ireland; reporting for Scotland is planned for autumn 2022.

There will be a third and final phase of the assessment, which will start approximately 18 months after the first outputs are published, and will involve a review of the Census outputs in light of users’ views.

The views of users, and potential users, of Census data such as you are really important to help us form our judgements – to help identify areas where Census offices are working well and how what they do could be improved.

User Views

The Code of Practice covers a wide range of principles around meeting the ‘public good’ such as the quality of the statistics and their need to add value and insight to users. We would very much welcome your feedback on Census developments and plans for Census outputs. Please let us know if you have any views, concerns or positive feedback that you want to share with us. We are particularly interested to hear your views on the following topics.

1. Your use of Census data and statistics

  • For example: Which of the Census data and statistics do you use, and for what purposes? Are you more interested in UK Census data or data on specific countries within the UK? Are you more interested in published summary statistics or in access to Census microdata? Are there particular data you use such as lower level geographies? What questions do you need the statistics to be able to answer for you?

2. Assuring the quality of Census data

  • For example – Are you aware of how they plan to ensure data quality? Do you have any concerns regarding the methods which will be used to produce the statistics?

3. Census outputs

  • For example – To what extent do you feel that outputs from the current Census will provide the insights into the population that you need? Are you aware of plans for Census outputs and any changes to Census questions? Do you feel that the plans for current Census outputs adequately incorporates improvements or lessons learnt from the 2011 Census?

4. Engaging with users

  • For example – How satisfied are you with the way that the producer teams in ONS, NRS and NISRA have engaged and consulted with you as they develop and deliver their plans for Census? Are there any areas where you would welcome improved engagement? Have been involved in any consultation exercises?

We welcome comments on any other aspect of these statistics which you think might be relevant to our assessment. Please do get in touch by email or over the phone.

Email: You can contact us by email at

Telephone: If you would prefer to speak in person please call Marie McGhee – 01329 447702

We may want to contact you to discuss your views. Please indicate whether you are happy for us to do so and provide contact details. We will keep a record of your contact details, emails and written correspondence with you and notes we record of any meetings with you. These records form an important part of the evidence base to help inform our regulatory judgements. Our Privacy Policy explains how we handle and protect your personal information, your legal rights and who to contact if you have any questions about how your personal information is being used.