Modernising the Census

Enumerator in The Netherlands, 1925

In March 2014, the National Statistician recommended that the census in 2021 should be predominantly online, making increased use of administrative data and surveys to enhance the statistics from the 2021 Census. This recommendation was endorsed by the Government’s formal response, which also set out its ambition that “censuses after 2021 will be conducted using other sources of data and providing more timely statistical information. However, any final decision on moving to the use only of administrative data beyond 2021 will be dependent on the dual running sufficiently validating the perceived feasibility of that approach.”


Following the National Statistician’s recommendation and the Government’s response, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) established a programme in January 2015 to take forward three high level deliverables:


·    A predominantly online census of all households and communal establishments in England and Wales,

·    Development of alternative administrative data census estimates, to be compared to the 2021 Census,

·    User focused, improved and expanded population statistics through increased use of administrative data and surveys.


I am the chair of the independent review panel set up as part of this programme. The panel will run until 2023.  Further details are available here.