The census is coming

The decennial census is almost upon us and now it’s your chance to provide a snapshot of modern society.

Households across South Yorkshire will soon be asked to take part in the nationwide survey of housing and the population before Census Day on Sunday 21st March.

ONS Census 2021

The unique survey has been carried out every ten years since 1801, with the exception of 1941. It gives the most accurate estimate of all the people and households in England and Wales.

For the first time in its history, the census this year will be run predominantly online. Households will receive a letter with a unique access code allowing them to complete the questionnaire on their computers, phones or tablets. Paper questionnaires will be available on request.

The census will include questions about your sex, age, work, health, education, household size and ethnicity. For the first time, there will be a question asking people whether they have served in the armed forces, as well as voluntary questions for those aged 16 and over on sexual orientation and gender identity. Remember, it’s up to you to decide how you would like to answer each question. Do it in the way that you feel best represents you.

Ethnicity, religion and national identity

You can identify with your chosen background, religion and national identity. If you cannot find the option you require, you can use the search-as-you-type function.

Alternatively, you can request a paper questionnaire. That will allow to you write in the identity that you feel most accurately represents you.

Sexual orientation and gender identity

For the first time there will be voluntary questions about sexual orientation and gender identity for people aged 16 and over. This is to provide more accurate information on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations and to help organisations combat any inequalities these groups face and show where services are needed.

If you do not feel comfortable identifying on the same form as the rest of your household, you can request an individual census questionnaire and answer separately.

Armed Forces

For the first time, the census will ask those aged 16 and above if they’ve served in the UK Armed Forces to help the ONS understand numbers, locations and ages of our armed forces community. This will show where resources and services are needed to make sure those who have served, and their families, are treated fairly.

ONS Census 2021

By taking part, you can help shape your community. Information households provide will help decide how services are planned and funded in your local area. This could mean things like doctors’ surgeries, housing, new bus routes and bike lanes, more apprenticeship schemes, or nursery spaces. Your information makes a difference to the life of every single person in England and Wales.

But don’t worry – government officials dealing with applications you’ve made or payments or services you receive cannot see it. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) runs the census in England and Wales and is independent from government. Your details are protected by law and information published is always anonymous. 

Results will be available within 12 months, although personal records will be locked away for 100 years, kept safe for future generations.

Everyone should have the support they need to fill in the census. If you, or anyone you know, needs help, support options are available. These include a contact centre that can give you help over the phone, and guidance in a range of languages and accessible formats, including paper questionnaires and large print.

For more information, visit