At Evenbreak, we’re really keen for disabled people to engage in the census, so our voices can be included, and our needs accounted for. Here’s what the ONS say:
Every ten years, something truly amazing happens across England and Wales. The census, run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), counts the whole population, gathering vital information about who we are and how we live. Now that time has come around again: 2021 is a census year.
The census is unique. There’s simply nothing else that gives so much detail about us and the society we live in. This information goes on to shape the planning and funding of public services – things which affect everyone, like transport, education and healthcare.
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, and it helps businesses in creating jobs. In short, census information goes on to have a real impact in our lives and communities.
What you’ll need to do
Taking part in the census is designed to be quick and straightforward, and most people should be able to do it on their own.
Before Census Day, the ONS will send every household a pack through the post. It contains an access code which lets you log in to the online questionnaire.
You’ll then be asked to respond to a series of questions about yourself and your household. The questionnaire should be filled in on Sunday 21 March 2021, or as soon as possible afterwards.
The ONS will be offering a range of services to make sure everyone can part in the census. This includes an online help section on their website, and a free public contact centre to give help over the phone, in a webchat, webform, email and SMS. You can call the contact centre on 0800 141 2021 (for those living in England) or 0800 169 2021 (for those living in Wales).
There will also be support for different accessibility needs. If you’d rather not fill in your questionnaire online, you can order a paper questionnaire in standard or Large Print format. You can also get a braille guidance booklet (including information about the census and a braille translation of the household paper questionnaire) and an easy read information leaflet. These will be available from the contact centre nearer to census time – you’ll have the option of using a text relay prefix when you call.
The ONS has worked with the Royal Association for Deaf People to produce videos with BSL, audio and subtitles. These include translations of the pack that people will receive in the post when they are invited to complete the census, as well as translations of the questions from the online questionnaire.
The online questionnaire is compatible with most assistive technologies. This means that anyone using supportive software such as screen readers or magnifying technology should find the online questionnaire compatible with their programme.
Keeping your data safe
The census has a proud 200-year history of keeping the personal information you share on your questionnaire safe.
The ONS has a strict security regime that follows government standards. This includes physical and IT security measures to protect your data, covering people, processes and technology.
When statistics from Census 2021 are published, they won’t contain personal information. Nobody will be able to identify you from the answers you’ve shared.
The ONS keeps census information safe and confidential by law for 100 years. After that future generations can see the information, for example, those interested in family history.
Census 2021 is a great opportunity to make sure everyone’s counted when decisions are made about services for our communities. By taking part, each of us can help shape the future.