Census Day - 21 March 2021 and COVID-19 Update

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Census 2021

Census 2021 plans in light of COVID-19

21 October 2020

Census Day - 21 March 2021

To: all local authority Chief Executives

Copy: Census Liaison Managers and Assistant Census Liaison Managers

With 5 months until everyone in England and Wales will be asked to take part in Census 2021, I wanted to update you on our plans in light of Covid-19.

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted us all in different ways, and it has further emphasised the need for up-to-date data about the population to help organisations such as local authorities shape services for society for the years to come.

We have reviewed and refined our Census plans and we are confident that everyone will be able to provide their census information safely and securely.  Our design now means we can conduct the main census field data collection operation without anyone ever needing to enter a house. All contact will be socially distanced, field staff will be equipped with PPE in line with government guidance and our recruitment and training have been moved wholly online.

We understand that the pandemic has, and continues to, put great strain on your staff and resources.  We are, therefore, greatly appreciative of the support we are receiving from your team to deliver the successful census that is in all our interests.

Some 200 full time ONS-employed census engagement managers (CEMS) have recently started work across England and Wales, responsible for engaging communities in local areas and raising awareness of the census. They will shortly be reaching out to your census liaison managers and assistant census liaison managers. The advice and support your team can give our staff will help them maximise the effectiveness of their work.  Our CEMs will regularly report their progress to your teams and give them opportunity to review and advise.

Our Deputy National Statistician, Iain Bell, has recently published a blog on our plans for running the census in the time of coronavirus. If you have any questions about Census 2021, please get in touch with our Census Local Authority Partnerships team (email: 2021Census.LA.Liaison@ons.gov.uk).

Yours sincerely, and with very best wishes in these challenging times.

Pete Benton


Director of Census and Survey Operations

Office for National Statistics