Census 2021 for Slough


The once-a-decade national census survey will be conducted on Sunday March 21 this year.

It will be the first digital census where the majority of people will fill in the form online.

Asking questions about who Slough residents are and how they live, Census 2021 will develop a picture of what is required in the future.

The snapshot survey is required to be completed by every person present in the country on the third Sunday in March every 10 years.

Census 2021 is an apolitical survey, is accountable to parliament only, and is not conducted by the council. The Office for National Statistics asks councils to inform residents of their obligation to fill in the survey

The census has its roots in the ancient world, with the Ancient Babylonians in 4,000 BCE using a census to determine how much food they needed to source for each member of their population. In Britain, the earliest census was the Domesday Book commissioned by William the Conqueror in 1086. 

Since the first modern census in 1841, each survey has changed to reflect technological changes in the intervening years from paper and pencil to this watershed moment – the first ever digital-first census. In 2011, just 16% of respondents completed the census online. This year the target set by the Office of National Statistics is over 75%. 

The coronavirus has not scuppered this year’s census which has historically been resilient, having only been cancelled once in 1941 because of The Blitz.

Changes to the census also reflect societal changes in the last decade. New questions include an optional question about gender, sexuality, and another about whether the respondent provides unpaid care, in addition to who lives in a property and what possessions are in the house.

The census is the gold-standard for information about society – who lives where, the types of work carried out, backgrounds, and how residents identify themselves. This information is used by everyone from government, charities and businesses. There is no greater source of information to identify our current needs and plan for the future. 

Because of its importance, the census has been mandatory for everyone present in the UK on census day since 1920. There are teams across England and Wales dedicated to ensuring everyone can participate. 

The Office for National Statistics field employees may visit residents who have not filled it in as a reminder to complete the survey, or offer assistance, as soon as possible after census day. Coronavirus precautions will be taken.

For Slough, the census is an important opportunity to ensure an accurate estimate of the population, as well as the needs of Slough residents. This helps to determine how much money comes to the area from central government and how services such as schools and hospitals are planned.

All census forms are securely collected and anonymised for 100 years. This means statistical analysis can be drawn from the document but no individual can be identified from the responses.

Historically, groups such as recent migrants, elderly people, and young men in urban areas have been undercounted in the census. Census data cannot be used by the government or police for regulatory, immigration or prosecution reasons, so everyone should take part, regardless of residency status.

Census material is also hugely important for those researching their ancestry for example and this census will assist future generations to learn about how people lived in the 21st century. 

Charlotte Spear, census engagement manager for Slough, said: “Census 2021 is for everyone, this is your chance to help us understand the needs locally.  

“Watch out for the cards coming through your door and please go online when you get your household code. 

“The census can be completed on any device online or you can ask for a paper copy. 

“Your personal information will be locked away for 100 years. The ONS just gathers statistical information that helps the borough plan for the future, to ensure all communities and resources are supported.”

Although the census is digital-first, paper census forms are available on request to all households. Some households, identified by the government as unlikely to be able to fill it out online, will be sent a paper census automatically. 

Support to fill in the census will be available in multiple languages. It takes around 10 minutes per member of your household to fill in.

For more information about the census, privacy, and how to get involved, visit the census website.

Published: 8 February 2021