Stockton's Infinity Bridge

ANEC Responds to Office for National Statistics (ONS) consultation on the census

13 December 2013

The Association has responded to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) consultation paper on the census and future provision of population statistics, on behalf of its member authorities.  Given the linkages between local authority funding and census data, any major shift in approach to the census could have far-reaching implications.

The consultation paper outlined two potential approaches to taking the census in the future:  an online census once a decade, or a census using administrative data and surveys.

Of the two options, our preference is for option A – an online census once a decade.  Our member authorities see the key advantage of this option as being its ability to provide information down to quite small geographic and population levels (Lower Super Output Areas) and allowing local authorities to track changes over time and build an understanding of the impact of their policies and interventions.  This would be lost under option B.  The census also provides a snapshot of the entire population at a single point of time, which administrative data, collected at different points of time, could not provide.

The Association has made clear in its response the key risk, as the consultation paper recognises, of Option A potentially excluding some people and households due to its heavy reliance on online submissions.  In the North East we have relatively low rates of access to the internet.  Whilst online access is rapidly increasing and will no doubt increase further between now and 2021, it will be critical to ensure that groups that are less likely to use the internet have easy access to other methods of completion and we would seek reassurance from ONS that this will be the case.

Read the full consultation response here.