The next census is almost upon us and features some brand new questions.
This once-in-a-decade survey – run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – will take place on March 21.
And it’s really important you take part because the information collected helps to decide where public money is spent and to plan services.
Among the changes for 2021 are new questions for the LGBTQ+ communities and armed forces veterans.
Many people will be wondering what they will be asked – and if indeed they have to answer. Below we’ve got all the vital information – or for more details about the census, visit census.gov.uk
What are the new LGBTQ+ questions?
These questions will be asked of those aged 16 years and over and are purely voluntary, so no one will be forced to answer if they do not want to. People can also request an individual census questionnaire and give their answers separately from their current household if they wish.
There are two new questions relevant to LGBTQ+ communities on sexual orientation and gender identity, each developed following discussions, testing and research with the public, charities and government bodies.
The aim is for the results of these questions to give a better understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations. This will help organisations to combat any inequalities these groups may face and show where services are needed.
Iain Bell, deputy national statistician at the ONS, said: “Without robust data on the size of the LGBTQ+ population at a national and local level, decision-makers are operating in a vacuum, unaware of the extent and nature of disadvantage which LGBTQ+ people may be experiencing in terms of health, educational outcomes, employment and housing.”
The two new questions on sexuality and gender will read:
Which of the following best describes your sexual orientation?
Straight or Heterosexual
Gay or Lesbian
Other sexual orientation
(Write in sexual orientation)
Is the gender you identify with the same as your sex registered at birth?
(Enter gender identity)
What is the new armed forces question?
Another new question this year’s census asks is whether they have served in the armed forces.
The aim of this question is to support commitments made by central and local government under the Armed Forces Covenant – the deal between the nation and those who have served it.
Anyone who has been a member of the armed forces for at least one day is classed as a veteran.
A better understanding of the numbers, locations and age ranges of our armed forces veterans will help the Government, NHS and service charity sectors provide resources and expertise where they are needed most.
The Royal British Legion led a campaign for the inclusion of the new question.
Charles Byrne, director general of the Royal British Legion, said: “The RBL believes as many as 1 in 10 people in the UK are members of the armed forces community but there is currently very little definitive information about where they are located or what their needs may be. This question will have a huge impact on service personnel, veterans and their families well into the future as it will ensure that we, along with other charities and service providers, can deliver the best service possible to them when and where it is needed most.”
Why do we have a census – and how do I take part?
The results of the census provide the most accurate picture of all the people and households in England and Wales. This huge survey has been carried out every decade since 1801, with the exception of 1941.
Census 2021 takes place on March 21 and will shed light on the needs of different groups and communities, and the inequalities people are experiencing. It will also be key to ensuring big decisions on the future of our hospitals, schools, transport and other public services, following the pandemic and EU exit, are based on the best information possible.
This year’s census is the first run predominantly online: households will receive a letter with an access code in March, allowing them to complete the questionnaire on a computer, mobile phone or tablet. You can complete your census as soon as you get your code.
The survey is quick and easy, taking around just 10 minutes per person to complete. You can request a paper questionnaire if you need it, and there will be lots of support available.
Results will be available within 12 months, though personal records will be locked away for 100 years, kept safe for future generations.
For more information about the census, visit census.gov.uk
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