2021 and 2011 Census

Census 2021

When did the Census take place?

Census day was on Sunday 21st March 2021.

If you haven't already completed your census questionnaire there is still time so please ensure you do so as soon as possible.

There is lots of help and support available - please see below for further details.

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

For more information see keeping your information safe and what we do with your information.

How do I fill out the Census?

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. Residents will then have until end of April to complete the census questionnaire.

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.

How can I get help to complete my questionnaire?

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:

A prepaid envelope is included with each paper questionnaire to post it back.

What if I don't speak English or Welsh?

Online guidance on languages can be found via the language support link. This includes a link to a video with British Sign language translations. 

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.

Census Support Centres

In Oxford we have set up two Census Support Centres. These are places where residents can go and get help in person from an advisor in order to fill out their census online and have access to the internet. One centre is based at the community centre in Rose Hill (Carole’s Way, Oxford OX4 4HF) and one in the community centre at East Oxford (44 Princes St, Cowley, Oxford OX4 1DD). The Census Support Centres will be open until 4th May 2021.

You will need to make an appointment in order to see an advisor in person. To make an appointment at East Oxford community centre please call 01865 792168. To make an apppointment at Rose Hill community centre please call 01865 749597. To find a census support centre near you please visit the find a census support centre link.

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.

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.

Home visits after Census Day

From 22nd March 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] 

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. Please therefore use the help available such as the helpline, online information, ordering a paper questionnaire, asking someone to help you fill it out and the Census Support Centres where you can. 

Census Scams

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.

Where can I find out more about the Census?

More information about the 2021 census is available on the Census website or from the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

Census 2021 Job Opportunities

Census 2021 job opportunities with the Office for National Statistics are currently being advertised.

Census 2011

Quick facts 

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.