Census to go ahead as planned, bar Scotland

Jo Francis
Friday, January 22, 2021

The 2021 Census in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will still go ahead as planned, with collateral set to start arriving at households next month – although Scotland has opted to push back the survey until 2022.

First 'digital' Census will still involve a lot of print
First 'digital' Census will still involve a lot of print

UK national statistician Sir Ian Diamond was interviewed on Radio Four’s Today programme this morning (22 January).

Diamond said that the census in England and Wales would go ahead as planned on 21 March. The Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (NISRA), is responsible for planning and running the census for Northern Ireland, where it will take place on the same date. 

“People will start to get some of the publicity through their postboxes in February and early March,” he stated.

Although this year’s census will be “largely online” in terms of the collation of the results, it still involves a substantial amount of print.

Households that are unable to complete the details either online or via phone will still be able to use paper forms.

HH Global won a big contract last year via the Crown Commercial Service’s 3785 (Managed Print and Digital Solutions) Framework to handle the Print and Post element of the census.

This includes postcards, initial contact letters, information leaflets, reminder letters and supplementary materials that are supplied on request.

The printing element for the paper questionnaires that were a familiar part of past censuses is part of a broader contract with technology services company Leidos Innovations UK.

It will prepare and dispatch up to 16 million paper questionnaire packs for households that cannot complete the details online. Printweek understands that YM Group is handling the print production for Leidos as a group-wide project.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) there were 27.8m households in the UK in 2019.

In its latest bulletin, the ONS stated: “At the ONS we’ve used past census information to help us understand how the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has affected people in different ways.

“Census 2021 will give us fresh information to improve our understanding of the pandemic. It will also help to make sure that the services you use meet the needs of our changing society. This could include hospitals, schools, universities and job centres.”

Census 2021 will be the 22nd census of England and Wales. To mark this the ONS will also be awarding 22 bespoke purple plaques for "local heroes who have gone the extra mile for their community".

The previous census in 2011, the last to be based on paper-based forms throughout, was printed by Polestar.

Last summer Scottish authorities agreed to push back the next census there to March 2022 due to the impact of Covid-19.

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