Completing the Census
Census day was on Sunday 21st March 2021. If you haven't already completed your census questionnaire please ensure you do so as soon as possible. If you are a student you must also complete the census. Please see below for further information about this and a link to the census website for students.
How can I get help to complete my questionnaire?
For the first time in its history, the census will be run predominantly online, with households receiving a letter with a unique access code from early March 2021 onwards, allowing them to complete the questionnaire on their computers, phones or tablets.
The help pages at census.gov.uk contain lots of information about how you can get help completing your census questionnaire. Help available includes general guidance, language assistance and a wide range of accessible formats including video and audio guides (English and Welsh).
There is also a free centralised helpline number for those living in England on 0800 141 2021.
You can order a paper questionnaire by phoning this number as well as receive a wide range of help and support.
There is also a text relay service - (18001) 0800 141 2021 and a language helpline 0800 587 2021. For further information please see the contact us link.
Ordering a paper questionnaire
Anyone can order a paper questionnaire including ordering them on behalf of another person:
- Visit www.census.gov.uk/en/request/paper-questionnaire/enter-address
- Ring 0800 141 2021, select self-serve (Option 1) and enter the 10-digit number from the Census letter you should have received
- Ring 0800 141 2021 and speak to an adviser (Option 3)
- Visit the help pages on our website www.census.gov.uk/help
A prepaid envelope is included with each paper questionnaire to post it back.
What if I don't speak English or Welsh?
People will need to complete the census in English (or in Welsh if they live in Wales), but there are Translation Guidance Booklets in 50 languages which provide a complete translation of the paper household questionnaire to assist those who may not have sufficient English skills to complete the census otherwise.
You can also call the call the free language helpline on 0800 587 2021.
How long will it take?
The census will take around 10-15 minutes per person to complete. It's easy to do and can be done on any device, including a computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone.
Census Support Centres
Please note the Census Support Centres are now closed. However the national helpline number including the language helpline remain open and you can also find information on the census website.
What happens if I don't complete my questionnaire?
Official census branded reminder letters are being sent to households who have not yet completed their census reminding them to fill it in. Please note that it is a legal requirement to complete the census. If you don't you could face prosecution, a fine (up to £1000) and a criminal record.
What if I am a student?
There has been a great response to Census 2021, but it is important everyone is counted and that includes students.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) wants to make sure as many students as possible complete a census for their term time accommodation to build an accurate and representative count of the student population.
This is important to ensure student communities are counted when it comes to planning and provision of services in their university and college towns and cities as well as at a family home.
“Census 2021 has gone brilliantly so far,” the ONS' director of operations Pete Benton said. “The overwhelming majority of people across England and Wales have already taken part but for us to have the most accurate picture of the whole population, we need everyone to fill in their questionnaire, including students. Even if you were included on your parents’ census because you were staying there on March 21, you still need to fill in one for your usual term-time address.”
Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, NUS Vice President of Higher Education, said: “It is so important that all students, including international students, are represented because the information collected helps to inform funding decisions that impact the student community and student experience. This includes services needed now and in the future like jobs and employment, training and opportunities, environmental policy, healthcare needs and university transport links.”
To find out more information and for details on how to fill in the census, please visit the census website for students.
Home visits after Census Day
From 22nd March until 3rd May 2021 census field officers from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) will visit homes around the country that have not completed the census. These ONS staff are classed as key workers and so are allowed to carry out these duties during lockdown. A census field officer may therefore knock on the door to provide help and encouragement to those who have not yet filled in their census questionnaire.
All will carry official identification cards with their name and their photo.
All visits will be between 9am and 8pm.
They will work in a socially distanced way, wear PPE, and they will not enter your home.
Census field officers will never ask for any money or bank details at any point. They will never ask for other personal details such as your national insurance number and do not need to enter your home.
You will never be issued with a fine by text message, phone call or email.
If you are concerned for any reason that the person on your doorstep is not a Census officer, ask them for the phone number on the critical workers letter that they can show you.
If you have any questions about the 2021 Census work being carried out this area, please phone the Partnership Team on 01329 447434. More information is available at www.census.gov.uk, or you can email [email protected]
Action Fraud have produced a useful Q and A guide to help keep the public safe from census related scams. Please see the action fraud website for more information.
What is the Census?
Households across Oxford will be asked to take part in the census which is a once-in-a-decade survey that gives us the most accurate estimate of all the people and households in England and Wales. It has been carried out every decade since 1801, with the exception of 1941 and is organised by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The census asks questions about you and your household to build a picture of all of us. It looks at who we are and how we live. There’s no other survey that gives as much information about our society and future needs.
It will include questions about your sex, age, work, health, education, household size and ethnicity. And, for the first time, there will be a question asking people whether they have served in the armed forces, as well as voluntary questions for those aged 16 and over on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Results will be available within 12 months, although personal records will be locked away for 100 years, kept safe for future generations.
Why should I take part in the Census?
It’s important that we all take part in the census. The census helps us understand what our society needs now and what it will likely need in the future. The information it collects helps with decisions on the planning and funding of services in your area.
Iain Bell, deputy national statistician at the Office for National Statistics describes the importance of the census as follows: “A successful Census will ensure everyone from local government to charities can put services and funding in the places where they are most needed. This could mean things like doctors’ surgeries, schools and new transport routes. That’s why it is so important everyone takes part and we have made it easier for people to do so online on any device, with help and paper questionnaires for those that need them.”
Charities also use census information to help get the funding they need. Businesses use it to decide where to set up, which creates job opportunities.
Why did the Census go ahead in 2021 given that we are in lockdown?
The ONS who run the census have released a statement about the importance of going ahead with the census in 2021 and how it is ensuring everyone can be safely counted in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Please see the following link for the ONS statement on why the Census is going ahead
Is my data kept safe?
Yes it is - all data collected from the census is kept secure and the personal information you put on your census questionnaire is only used for statistical purposes. The ONS' statistics don't contain any information that will allow you or anyone you live with to be identified. Personal information includes things like your name, date of birth and address. Furthermore the information that is collected in the census remains anonymous for 100 years.
Only carefully selected and approved staff can see your personal census information.
Your personal census information cannot be seen or used by:
- anyone who makes decisions about you or any services that you get
- anyone making decisions about your residency applications or immigration status
- anyone making decisions about individual services, such as taxes and benefits
- anyone wanting to find you or sell you anything - your personal information can't be sold to third parties
- anyone enforcing the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions or from NHS Test and Trace
Can I help someone else fill out their Census questionnaire?
Yes you can - if a person can't complete their own census, someone they trust, like a family member or friend, can complete it for them. If you are completing the census for someone else, you will need their paper form, or the access code from the letter we sent them. If possible, make sure you read the questions and answer options out to the person you're helping, and read the answers back to them at the end. For more information please see completing the census for someone else.
Where can I find out more about the Census?
- The 2011 census took place on Sunday 27 March 2011. All the statistics from the census have now been released, covering topics including population, housing, health and economic activity.
- The Statistics About Oxford pages contain information gleaned from the census. Findings from the 2011 Census, a presentation given in December 2013, outlines the key headlines for Oxford.
- A consultation about the proposed topics for the next census was conducted in 2015, and results of that public consultation were published in 2016.
Accessing data from the Census
The census provides a very rich source of information about the population. The quickest way to discover what information is available from the 2011 census is to visit the Census Table Finder on the Nomis website. The topics include:
- Population & household counts, age & sex
- Ethnic group, country of birth, year of arrival in UK, language
- Housing: tenure, overcrowding, type of dwelling, number of rooms, household composition
- Economic activity: industry, occupation, qualifications, employment, economic inactivity, students
- Health: disability, self-reported health, caring
- Transport: car ownership, mode and place of travel to work
All of this information can be broken down by age and sex, a wide range of other characteristics (e.g. disability by ethnic group) and for small areas within the city (down to the over 400 Output Areas in Oxford). Selected data from the 2011 census is published on our Statistics About Oxford webpages, much of which was originally downloaded from the ONS Nomis website.
Alternative sources are the Office for National Statistics website. The Office for National Statistics have also developed some interactive maps and charts and detailed analysis of the census stories.
Statistics from previous censuses
You can read this short document which describes how Oxford has changed since the first census in 1801.
A view of Oxford through the Censuses, from 1801 to 2001
You can view some historical census returns including ones from Charlotte Bronte, Sir Winston Churchill and Karl Marx on the Census Hall of Fame website. Personal information from the census is kept confidential for 100 years, so 1911 is the latest historical census which has been released.