Everything you need to know about completing the 2021 census today

People in Peterborough will join millions of others across the country today (Sunday, March 21) in filling out the 2021 census.

Sunday, 21st March 2021, 5:00 am
The 2021 census will be digital first
The 2021 census will be digital first

Just once every 10 years, UK households sit down to complete the questionnaire to help paint a picture of who we are, how we live, and what we do.

The vast hoard of information is used by councils, central government and charities to help run vital public services such as hospitals, housing and schools.

The next one in England takes place this Sunday (March 21) and is likely to reflect some of the most seismic shifts in society for generations, from Brexit to the Covid-19 crisis.

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What has changed

According to 2011’s census, Peterborough had a population of 183,631, of which 51 per cent were women and 49 per cent men.

For the first time this year, people aged 16 and over can answer additional voluntary questions about their gender identity and sexual orientation.

The Office for National Statistics, which runs the census in England and Wales, says the answers will help shape services for the LGBT+ community and promote equality.

People in the area were also a little younger than others across England with an average age of 36.9 years – compared to the national average of 39.3.

Religion and ethnicity

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted harsh inequalities among different parts of the population, including between different ethnic groups.

In Peterborough, 82.5 per cent described their ethnicity as white in 2011, while 11.7 per cent were Asian, 2.8 per cent said they were of mixed ethnicity and 2.3 per cent black.

A further 0.8 per cent stated another ethnicity.

Of the major world religions, Christians formed the largest community, comprising around 104,200 people in 2011.

This was followed by Islam (17,300), and Hinduism (2,300).

“Information from the 2011 Census has already been crucial in our understanding of mortality for different groups during the pandemic,” said Pete Benton, census director of operations.

“With fresh data from 2021, we will be able to update the analysis we have already done to give us the richest data we have ever had.”

Country of birth

Around 79 per cent of people living in Peterborough in 2011 said they were born in the UK, while 11 per cent were from EU nations including Ireland, and 10 per cent from elsewhere.

“Over the last couple of years we have seen lots of reports about the decline in immigration from the EU – and more recently, with the Covid crisis, suggestions of an exodus of migrants from the UK,” said Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.

“Problems with data collection during the pandemic mean it’s not clear how many people left the UK last year.

“But even if there has been a big fall in the migrant population over the last couple of years, it’s unlikely to offset a decade of migration since 2011.”

The world of work

Few aspects of our lives have been changed as much by Covid-19 as how we work, and for many of us, where we work.

About 7,300 people aged 16 and over in Peterborough said they worked mainly at or from home at the last census, amounting to roughly six per cent of the working-age population – slightly lower than the England average of eight per cent.

“We know that about half of the UK workforce worked from home during the first lockdown in 2020,” said Christina Marriott, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health.

“This suggests that we can expect a significant rise in home-based working from the 2021 census results,” she added.

And while the charity’s research suggested there are many benefits to home working, such as saving time and money normally spent commuting, people can also feel isolated from colleagues and find it more difficult to switch off from work.

The RSPH is calling for employers to support staff to make home working a more positive experience.

What you need to know

- The census should take about 10 minutes for the household questions and a further 10 minutes per person for the individual questions, says the ONS.

- Every householder is responsible for completing it for their household, either by answering the questions for all household members or making everyone answer their own.

- If you do not complete the census, you could be fined up to £1,000.

- You won’t be fined next week if you haven’t completed your census form by Sunday (the non-compliance process includes a series of 5 reminder letters and 2 non-compliance letters)

- You can get help locally to complete your census form - PARCA (01733 563420) and GLADCA (01733 566343) are offering this service in Peterborough, and there are census support centres across England and Wales.

- Where face-to-face appointments are offered these are COVID safe and have been fully risk assessed

- To find your nearest Census Support Centre pop your postcode into the website - https://census.gov.uk/help/find-a-census-support-centre

- Peterborough City Council’s website has videos from local community leaders talking about the census in several languages - https://www.peterborough.gov.uk/council/about-peterborough/census-2021

- Census field officers will be visiting households who haven’t completed their census (starting from the middle of next week)

There are two national census helplines:

For general help with the census call 0800 141 2021 (TEXT RELAY 18001), option 1 is to request a paper copy of the questionnaire

For language support call 0800 587 2021

The Census website has materials to help people complete the Census:

There are language guides here

There are accessible formats (sign language/braille/large print etc) and guidance here

A video on how to complete the census online is here along with many other video resources