2021 and 2011 Census

Completing the Census

Census day was on Sunday 21st March 2021 and the deadline for submitting your Census has now passed. The response to Census 2021 exceeded expectations, with 97 per cent of households across England and Wales returning their Census questionnaires and further information about return rates can be found on the ONS website. 

Release of Census Data

Over the next year, the ONS will process the answers from all the census questionnaires. This is so they that  can publish the initial Census 2021 findings one year after the census and the main releases two years after the census.

​​​​​​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 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.

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 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 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 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.

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.