In March, all households in England and Wales will be asked to take part in the 2021 Census ­­– the once-in-a-decade survey that provides everyone from central government to the charity sector with the most accurate estimate of our communities.

The anonymised information from it will highlight areas of deprivation, show the ethnic make-up of the country, and provide further understanding of our living arrangements, health, education, and the jobs we do. This data will help inform policy at a local and national level — such as decisions on doctors’ surgeries, house planning, and new bus routes – for years to come.

Amid the pandemic, the census will also provide crucial insights into the impact of coronavirus on our society. During this time, the Office for National Statistics is taking steps to ensure it is accessible to everyone despite lockdowns.

Although the census will be online-first, paper questionnaires will be available for those who need them, while people will be able to complete the census over the phone with help from trained staff via our free phone contact centre.

A large print paper questionnaire pack including a guidance leaflet, Privacy Notice and return envelope can be ordered from the contact centre. This will be available once the census is live.

All the critical information in the census information pack going to every household is in 16pt font, the recommended size for Large Print. This includes the access code needed to log in to the online questionnaire. The packs have all been checked by the Digital Accessibility Centre are optimized for optical character recognition software.

A braille guidance booklet, including information about the census and a braille translation of the household paper questionnaire, can be ordered from the contact centre. This will be available once the census is live.  

The ONS aim to provide in-person support to complete the survey online through Census Support Centres where it is safe to do so and will continue to monitor the situation across England and Wales to assess whether they can open.

No-one can identify you in the census statistics we publish as we ensure they contain none of your personal information. Your census record will be kept secure for 100 years and only then can future generations view it.

Households will be sent a letter inviting them to take part in early March. Census day is 21 March.

For more information about all the help available, please visit www.census.gov.uk or phone for free, from March, on 0800 141 2021. For households in Wales, contact 0800 169 2021.