Care about the environment? Want to know the best place to live for that dream job? Maybe you want to live in the city with the most single people?
If your answer to any of those questions is yes – then make sure you fill in the census.
And if it’s no – then still fill in the census because information it provides will be crucial in ways you don’t even realise. In March 2021, everyone in England and Wales will be expected to complete their census questionnaire – and it is vital to reach all students.
The census, run by the Office for National Statistics, is for everyone. Once every 10 years, it helps build the most complete picture of the country. Understanding the needs of the nation helps everyone from central government to organisations, such as councils and health authorities, plan and fund public services across England and Wales.
All students need to be included in the census, and they should complete it for their usual term-time address. If they’re currently living at their home address, they will need to be included in the census for that household too.
“Census data informs where billions of pounds of public funding is spent on services like transport, education and health – on cycle routes, schools and mental health care – and on improving the environment for all,” said director of census operations Pete Benton.
“For the first time, it will be a primarily online census, making it easy for students to complete on any device, from anywhere, whether you’re in halls of residence, private rented accommodation or at a home address – and international students, yes you also need to fill in the census if you’re studying for more than 3 months.”
Information from the census is also important in helping lots of other people and organisations do their work.
Charities and voluntary organisations often use it as evidence to get funding. It helps businesses to understand their customers and, for example, decide where to open new shops. Plus, those doing research, for instance university students, and people looking into their family history, use census data. It also provides important information on population diversity, allowing organisations to know whether they are meeting their responsibilities and triggering action where necessary.
As well as questions about sex, age, work, health, education and ethnicity, there are new voluntary questions on sexual orientation and gender identity for those aged 16 and over. Individual forms are available on request. Gathering this information will ultimately help local communities by allowing charities, local and central government to understand the services people from different groups need, and monitor equality.
Census day will be on March 21 and households will soon receive letters with online codes explaining how they can take part.
Results will be available in 2022, although personal records will be locked away for 100 years, kept safe for future generations.
For more information about all the help available, visit www.census.gov.uk or phone for free, from March, on 0800 141 2021. For households in Wales, contact 0800 169 2021.