Martin Lewis reminds viewers to complete Census survey
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The census is a survey that takes place every 10 years, and it gives the Government and authorities the most accurate estimate of all the people and households in England and Wales. The census asks questions about you, your household and your home and in doing so, helps to build a “detailed snapshot of our society”, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The information is also used to help local authorities to plan and fund local services, such as education, doctors’ surgeries and roads. The ONS is the responsible body for planning and running the census in England and Wales, while Scotland has its own system.
Why is the census different this time?
Normally, the census comes via a paper form posted to all households, but this year people have been encouraged to fill out the information online.
For the first time, there were voluntary questions on gender identity and on sexual orientation for those aged 16 and over.
In the UK, there are no official statistics for people who identify their gender as different from what was registered on their birth certificate.
Gathering this information is going to help develop policy, provide services and improve the quality of already existing options, says the ONS.
Can you get fined for not filling in the census?
You could get fined, that’s definitely a possibility, but before things escalate that far you’ll be given chances to avoid the penalty notice.
By law, you have to complete or be accounted for in the census and anyone who doesn’t fill it out will be contacted by a census officer.
They will encourage you to complete it and even help some people access any support needed to provide the information.
If you still don’t return or submit a completed census form by that point, things will likely get worse.
Failing to complete the census is a criminal offence and you’ll be contacted directly by the non-compliance team.
If prosecuted, you could be forced to pay a fine of up to £1,000, plus the cost of court and legal fees.
Providing false information in the census is more ground for being fined.
If field officers arrive at your home address, they will be wearing PPE and don’t actually need to come inside the house.
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When will the 2021 census data be released?
Data collected in the census won’t be available to the public until March 2022, and the final release comes out another year later in March 2023.
The data will enable users to access information down to local authority level.
But crucially, personal details including anything that could be used to identify an individual, won’t be accessible for 100 years.
An ONS spokesperson said: “Like all our data collections, at the heart of the census is keeping the information safe, confidential, secure and private – no one can find out individual’s details for 100 years.”
That means the full census won’t be available until 2121, by the time this generation will have passed on.
Anyone keen to learn more about their family and history will be able to read the 1921 census, once it’s published in January 2022.
However, the census could soon be on its way out, according to Professor Sir Ian Diamond, the UK’s national statistician.
Professor Diamond said last month he is looking at cheaper and more up-to-date alternatives as well as researching data from other sources like the Ordnance Survey, GP lists, council tax records and driving license details could replace it.
The professional statistician said combined with regular, large-scale population surveys, this could provide more detailed information in a cheaper and quicker way.
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