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The census should be completed by every household by Sunday, March 21 or as soon as possible after this date. If you’ve responded before the deadline but things have changed at home, you can contact the census for free to let them know. The census should take about 10 minutes for the household questions and 10 minutes per person. The last census took place in 2011, and the next one will be in 2031. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) runs the census in England and Wales, and if you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland, different rules will apply.
What happens if you don’t complete your census on time?
The Census is legally mandatory for everyone in the UK to fill in.
If you don’t fill in the census, there could be some consequences for you breaking the rules.
The Gov website states: “If you do not fill in the census, a census officer will contact you and encourage you to complete it.
“They will help you access any support you need to fill in your form.
“If you still don’t return or submit a completed census, you will be committing a crime and be contacted by our non-compliance team.
“If prosecuted, you may have to pay a fine of up to £1,000 plus court costs.”
If the case is that you are prosecuted for not completing the census and found guilty, you will get a criminal record.
The Census is mandatory through legislation, in particular the Census Act of 1920.
The Census Act introduced 101 years ago made it compulsory for everyone in England and Wales to take part in the census.
The law also sets the maximum fine of £1,000 for not completing the census.
Any census questions based on religion, sexual orientation and gender identity can be filled out on a voluntary basis, but completing the census is mandatory.
The census is also backed by the census order 2020 in both England and Wales.
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The census order sets:
- The date of the next census as Sunday, March 21, 2021
- The question topics
- The people who need to fill in the forms
- The people to be included on the forms
The order also requires all residents and visitors to be included on completed census forms.
In addition to the census order, there are census regulations too for England and Wales, also established in 2020.
These regulations include:
- How the census will take place
- The delivery and response options for the forms
- The duties of census employees
- The confidentially requirements for handling the forms containing personal information
- Copies of the paper forms and descriptions of the online forms
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