It’s census day: Everything you need to know about the census

census 2021 west leeds

Words: Richard Beecham, Local Democracy Reporter

It’s that time of the decade again.

The census is the biggest questionnaire in Britain, and it is once again time to fill out yours and spill the beans on where you’re at in life.

But what is the census? When should I do it? What is the information used for? And will I get told off if I don’t fill it out?

We have all the information you need on the census below. Happy form-filling!

What is the census?

It’s a huge national survey that takes place every 10 years and goes to every single household in the country.

It is to give the government and local authorities a good idea about where everyone is at in their lives, and helps inform decisions on big structural things
like public spending, transport, education and healthcare.

As the last census took place in 2011, the time is here for the next one – set to take place Sunday March, 21.

When should I complete it?

Census day is today (Sunday, March 21), meaning all information should be filled out around that particular date. Therefore, if you’re moving out the following week, or expect to change jobs in a month’s time, it shouldn’t be included.

The overall household questions should should take about 10 minutes to complete, and additional questions should take 10 minutes per person in the household.

What’s the point of a census?

The information you give can help give organisations a picture of the needs of everyone in the country.

Local councils and charities use this picture to plan and fund services, including transport, education and healthcare. Without the census, it would be much more difficult to get an accurate picture of what situation communities and individuals are in.

What happens if I don’t fill it out?

The law around the census is surprisingly strict – it is an offence to not complete the census or include false information, and you could be fined up to £1,000. However, some of the questions are labelled as voluntary, and it is not an offence to avoid answering these.

How do I fill it out?

You can fill in the census online by visiting – you will need to put in a 16-digit code that you should receive through the post. Although the census is online-first, you can request a paper copy if you prefer.

What did the last census say about Leeds?

Census data from 2011 showed there were 751,485 people in Leeds living in 320,596 households.

The median average age of every resident in Leeds was 35, meaning if you were over 35, there would be more people living in the city who were younger than you than older – a sobering thought!

Of the total number of residents, 665,341 were born in the UK – 647,767 were from England. 4,762 were born in Ireland, while 20,302 were born in other EU countries. A total of 61,080 were born in countries outside the EU.

In terms of the types of homes households lived in, 48,361 were in a detached house or bungalow, with 122,757 in a semi-detached, 88,276 in a terrace, 72,449 in a flat or maisonette and 381 in a caravan or temporary structure.

Just over 102,000 of the households had access to a car or van, while 3,701 had four or more cars or vans!

355,225 of residents aged 16-74 were in employment, with 39,240 working more than 49 hours per week. More than one third of these households (109,082) contained no adults in employment,

The largest areas of employment were wholesale and retail trade (56,612), health and social work (47,811), education (37,153) and manufacturing (29,611).

250,309 residents over 16 were listed as never married, while 256,187 were listed as currently married or in a civil partnership. A total of 15,910 were separated but legally married, 51,653 divorced and 39,933 were widowed.

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