Census day was held on Sunday 21st March 2021 and was the first 'digital-first' Census with 89% of households in England and Wales responding online.
Overall the response to Census 2021 exceeded expectations, with 97 per cent of households across England and Wales returning their Census questionnaires. Further information about return rates can be found on the ONS website.
What is the Census?
The Census 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 includes questions about your sex, age, work, health, education, household size and ethnicity. And, for the first time in 2021, there was 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.
Release of Census Data
The ONS has now started to release Census data by topic. As each set of data is released, we are producing summary reports detailing the key findings. You can find these summary reports here.
Please note that throughout the summary reports where a percentage increase of decrease is shown this denotes a change in percentage point(s) e.g. 'The proportion of residents aged 16+ years without qualifications is 12.6% and shows a decrease of 1.0% from the previous Census' describes a decrease from 13.6% in 2011 to 12.6% in 2021.
Below details these summary reports by topic:
Population and Household estimates data summary report – released on 28 June 2022.
Demography and migration data summary reports – released on 2 November 2022.
- Census 2021 Legal partnership and living arrangements summary report
- Census 2021 Year of arrival, length of stay and age of arrival in the UK summary report
- Census 2021 HH composition, size, by deprivation and CE summary report
- Census 2021 Migrant indicator and non-UK residents summary report
- Census 2021 Country of birth and passports held summary report
Armed forces and veteran data summary report – released on 10 November 2022.
Ethnic group, national identity, religion and language summary reports – released on 29 November 2022.
- Census 2021 Ethnic Group summary report
- Census 2021 National Identity and Language summary report
- Census 2021 Religion summary report
Labour market and travel to work – released on 8 December 2022.
Housing – released on 5 January 2023
- Census 2021 Number of bedrooms and occupancy rating
- Census 2021 Second address and communal establishments
- Census 2021 Tenure, accommodation, central heating and car availability
Sexual orientation and gender identity - released on 6 January 2023
Education – released on 10 January 2023
Health, disability and unpaid care: 19 January 2023
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 2021 Census is to visit the Census Topic Summaries page on the Nomis website.
All univariate was released as part of phase 1 of the Census schedule and it can be accessed through the ONS Census 2021 website. Multivariate data has also been released, and it can be accessed through the ONS ‘create a custom dataset’ tool, and Nomis ‘Ready-made tables’ (limited combinations). Please note that some of the datasets use statistical disclosure control to maintain confidentiality of individuals and therefore some data combinations might show incomplete data.
Where can I find out more about the Census?
Why is the Census important?
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 were in lockdown then?
The ONS who run the Census released a statement about the importance of going ahead with the Census in 2021 and how it ensured 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 went ahead
No doubt some Census data was impacted by the pandemic and the fact that a stay at home order was in place when it was taken, for example travel to work patterns during this time and the ONS provides information on the impact that the pandemic may have had on travel to work Census 2021 data.
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 making decisions about individual services, such as taxes and benefits
- anyone who makes decisions about you or any services that you get
- anyone making decisions about your residency applications or immigration status
- 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