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Council Business

2021 National Census

The Office for National Statistics is working to make Census 2021 the most accessible census yet.

Published: 17 March 2023


The Office for National Statistics is working to make Census 2021 the most accessible census yet. Listed below are some of the routes we have developed to ensure everybody can participate.

General Support

The Contact Centre

The contact centre is a vital source of public support. It offers help over the phone, via web chat and SMS text message, and through the ‘Contact Us’ form on our website. Anyone can get in touch with the contact centre to order paper household questionnaires, individual questionnaires, Large Print questionnaires or continuation forms. Call handlers will be trained to answer a wide range of general census queries. The contact centre goes live on 1 March 2021. There will be separate lines for England and Wales, plus a language helpline, text relay and short text numbers (see below for more details).

Census Support Centres

Census Support Centres will provide face to face help (COVID permitting) for anyone who needs support completing their questionnaire online. They will provide access to the internet and to technology, such as computers and tablets, for those able to complete it independently. They’ll also provide practical support and guidance on the questionnaire for those who need it. Census Support Centres will be conveniently located in places where local people go as part of their daily routines, such as libraries and community centres. Members of the public will be able to use an online postcode lookup tool to find their nearest Census Support Centre.

Language Support

Information about language support will be available on the language pages of our website.

Products to inform

Members of the public will have access to a range of products to inform in many languages:

  • ●  Specialist engagement products in 19 languages
  • ●  Campaigns products in around 30 languagesLanguage helplineAny member of the public can call the language helpline to ask questions about the census via an interpreter (subject to availability). If interpretation is not immediately available in their language, people can book an appointment to speak to someone at a later time. We’ll provide the contact number for the language helpline (which is the same in England and Wales) once it’s available later in February 2021.Guidance bookletsGuidance booklets will be available in 49 languages in England and 19 languages in Wales. These booklets contain information about what the census is and why it is important. They also translate the questions in the household questionnaire, and the privacy notice. Guidance booklets will be available to download from the language pages on our website or ordered via the contact centre.

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Alternative Formats and Guidance

Paper Questionnaire

Paper questionnaires can be obtained by members of the public via the following routes:

  • ●  calling the contact centre and selecting self-serve. The voice recognition system will ask them toquote a 10-digit number. This can be found on the top right of the initial contact letter they willhave received in the post.
  • ●  calling the contact centre and speaking to an adviser, who can order them a questionnaire.
  • ●  requesting a questionnaire through our online help page.
  • ●  census field officers will also be carrying paper questionnaires during non-response follow-up.Electronic Questionnaire
    The Electronic Questionnaire is ​compatible with most assistive technologies​. This means that peopleusing supportive software such as screen readers or magnifying technology should find the Electronic Questionnaire compatible with their programme. You can read more about the accessibility of our website by visiting ​ Help pageThe Online Help page on our website covers important topics such as why we ask certain census questions and what they mean. This text should be accessible to anyone with a reading age of 8 or above.Videos with BSL, Audio and SubtitlesWe have produced accessible videos with BSL, audio and subtitles, working with the Royal Association for Deaf People. These include translations of the pack that people will receive in the post when they are invited to complete the census – the initial contact letter, information leaflet and Privacy Notice – as well as translations of the questions from the online questionnaire and a thank-you video for completing the questionnaire. These will be available once the census is live.Text RelayPeople with speech and/or audio impairments can use a text relay prefix when calling our contact centre. Text relay offers text-to-speech and speech-to-text translation services. Simply dial 18001 before the number of the contact centre, which will become available soon.Web chat guidanceWeb chat guidance is available for use online and could be useful for those who prefer to communicate in writing. This will be available once the census is live.Easy ReadAn Easy Read information leaflet about the census can be ordered after 1st March 2021.BrailleA 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 after 1st March 2021.Large Print (16pt)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 after 1st March 2021.


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