Those asked to take part in the census survey should be careful not to bin the letters, as it’s actually a legal obligation to take part and answer the questions. This is ahead of Census Day, on March 21.
But what exactly is the survey for, why do we have to take part and when will the forms arrive?
Here’s all you need to know…
What is the census survey and why is it important?
The census is a survey that only occurs once every decade, with its purpose being to inform the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The ONS sends out the forms via the post to households all over England and Wales, inviting people to take part in the survey to paint a picture of life in their countries.
Every household is being encouraged to complete this survey either on, or soon after Census Day, which is on Sunday, March 21, 2021.
The survey does happen in Northern Ireland (NI) and Scotland too, but things are slightly different.
For those living in NI, Census Day also falls on March 21, 2021.
However, it’s run by the Northern Ireland Statistics Agency (NISRA) and not the ONS.
In Scotland, the survey won’t run until next year and will be conducted by the National Records of Scotland.
When will the census form arrive and what needs to be done?
One invitation letter for the census survey will arrive at each household in England and Wales very shortly.
There is no exact delivery date set out, but it should arrive before March 21.
The letter you’ll receive will contain a unique access code, which you can then use to complete the census online via census.gov.uk.
However, you can complete the census online or via a paper form.
If you’d rather the paper form, you can contact the ONS on 0800 141 2021 in England or 0800 169 2021 in Wales and ask for one to be posted out.
What shall I do if I haven’t received anything?
If you’re getting worried about March 21 rapidly approaching, you can always contact the ONS or request online access via their website.
Do we have to complete the census survey?
If you don’t complete the census form you could be fined up to £1,000.
After Census Day, census field officers will visit households from which they’ve not received a completed census form. They will encourage people to complete the census form and offer help to do so.
It is an offence to supply false information or to not complete the census, and you could be fined up to £1,000.
Every householder for each address is responsible for filling in the census questionnaire for their household.
The majority of the questions are compulsory, meaning that the householder should answer all of the questions on behalf of the other household members, or ensure all members answer their own questions, i.e the ones about dates of birth.
The majority of the survey’s questions are simple, asking for details on the country of birth of household members, how many bedrooms are in the home, and so on.
However, other questions which ask for detail on household members’ sexual orientation, gender and religion are voluntary, but the form will detail which ones you have to answer.
When do you have to complete the form?
The ONS has stated that people should fill in the form and submit it on March 21, as this is the day they use to capture life in 2021 for this decade’s census.
Any time as soon as possible following this date should also be okay, with online forms being allowed for submission until early May.