The Census is one of the most important sources of official statistics, informing decisions about almost every aspect of life within the UK. It is of fundamental importance in allocating billions of pounds to local areas by the UK government and devolved administrations, as well as grants to voluntary sector organisations. The Census helps every person in the UK get a better understanding of the places in which they live and work.

The real value of the Censuses will be realised on the release of Census outputs. Census offices will have to deliver high quality data and statistics in a variety of forms to support the wide range of different uses required. It is essential that the data and statistics from the 2021 Censuses produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the National Records of Scotland (NRS) and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) are reliable and provide valuable insights, meeting the rigorous standards of trustworthiness, quality and value outlined in the Code of Practice for Statistics.

Our assessment report identifies a range of preliminary findings from the assessment of 2021 Censuses in the UK, which require action on behalf of Census offices to improve compliance with the Code. These findings build on the existing work being undertaken by Census offices and should provide further direction and focus on pre-existing plans for Census as we move toward Census day in 2021 and beyond.

We expect Census offices to act on these findings as part of enhancing the public value, quality and trustworthiness of the data and statistics from 2021 Censuses in the UK. We encourage Census offices to work collaboratively to address the findings. We expect Census offices to report back to us by May 2020, providing an update on progress.

The UK Statistics Authority will decide whether to confirm the National Statistics designation, based on OSR’s advice, prior to publication of Census outputs in 2022; Census offices’ actions to address these findings will help inform that advice.

We have shared this assessment report with relevant UK Parliamentary committees.


Related Links:

Letter from Ed Humpherson to NRS, NISRA and ONS (October 2019)

Ed Humpherson to David Marshall (NISRA): Assessment of 2021 Censuses in the UK (September 2020)

Ed Humpherson to Iain Bell: Assessment of 2021 Censuses in the UK – ONS Response to Preliminary Findings (September 2020)

Ed Humpherson to Paul Lowe (NRS): Assessment of 2021 Censuses in the UK (September 2020)