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Census consultation: future provision of population statistics

A three month public consultation on the Census and future provision of population statistics in England and Wales is launched today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

After each census, ONS reviews the future needs for information about the population and housing in England and Wales, and how these needs might be met.

The 2011 Census successfully provided population statistics that will be used for the next decade by planners, policy makers and researchers across the public and private sectors. Our population is changing rapidly, and the need to understand these changes will continue.  The Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Beyond 2011 programme is currently reviewing these needs, and how they might best be met in future.

Improvements in technology and in government data sources offer opportunities to either modernise the existing census process, or to develop an alternative census method that reuses existing data already held within government.

Our research has resulted in two approaches for taking the census in future.

  • A census once a decade, like that conducted in 2011, but primarily online. 

  • A census using existing government data and compulsory annual surveys.

Both approaches would provide annual statistics about the size of the population, nationally and for local authorities.  A census using existing data and surveys would provide more statistics about the characteristics of the population every year. An online census would provide more detailed statistics once a decade.

Peter Benton, the Beyond 2011 Programme Director, said: ‘Our population is changing rapidly, and we will always need good population statistics.  There are different ways we could take a census in future, and they have different strengths and weaknesses.  The best approach has yet to be decided, and this consultation will help us understand what matters the most’.

The consultation runs from 23 September to 13 December. We will publish our findings in 2014.

Read the consultation document and take part in the consultation (175.5 Kb Pdf) .

Find out about our consultation events

Contact Beyond 2011

You may find the answer to your question in our list of Frequently Asked Questions. If not, or you want to discuss any aspect of our work on Beyond 2011, please contact us:


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