Census Day 2021: Why you have to complete the form and what it told us about life in Sheffield 10 years ago

People across the UK are being asked to complete the 2021 Census today, with those failing to fill in the form facing a fine of up to £1,000.
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The once-in-a-decade survey aims to capture a snapshot of life across the country, with households answering questions about their health, education, employment status and more.

It has taken place every 10 years since 1801, with the exception of 1941, during the Second World War.

People who fail to fill in the Census face a fine of up to £1,000 (pic: Victoria Jones/PA Wire)People who fail to fill in the Census face a fine of up to £1,000 (pic: Victoria Jones/PA Wire)
People who fail to fill in the Census face a fine of up to £1,000 (pic: Victoria Jones/PA Wire)
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The Census is run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in England and Wales and by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Scotland’s Census has been delayed until March 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Covid outbreak also means the Census in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be the first to be primarily completed online.

The Census questions ask for details on people’s sex, age, ethnicity and the status of their health, education and occupation.

There are also questions on your main language, national identity and marital status.

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Some questions, such as those on sexual orientation, gender identity and religion, are optional.

Officials say it takes about 10 minutes to complete.

Peter Benton, director of population and public policy operations at the ONS, told the BBC that the Census is the “fundamental bedrock of our statistical system”.

Organisations such as local authorities and charities use the information it gathers to build a picture of what services communities might need, such as around transport, education and healthcare.

For example it could inform the planning and funding around doctors’ surgeries, housing or bus routes.

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Census day is Sunday March 21 and households should provide information about themselves as it stands on that date.

Households should have already received letters containing an access code to log in and complete the form online via a computer, smartphone or tablet.

Paper questionnaires can also be requested to be sent in the post.

The Census should be completed on Census day itself or as soon as possible afterwards.

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People are required by law to complete the Census, with anyone failing to do so risking prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

At the end of March and into April, Census field officers will visit households which have not submitted a completed Census form to encourage them to do so.

The ONS said officers will never need to enter a house, will be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and will work in line with Government guidance.

It added that personal information on a Census is only used for statistical purposes and it will never sell or share personal information with anyone.

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In 2011, the Census provided a wealth of information about life in Sheffield at that time.

The city’s population back then was 552,698, though it is estimated to have grown since then to around 585,000.

Almost a third of households in 2011 comprised one person living alone, while 36 per cent included children.

Just over 58 per cent of Sheffield’s households owned their own home and there were almost as many cars in Sheffield as there were households, although a third of households had no access to a car or van.

Despite the city’s industrial history only nine per cent of workers were employed in manufacturing, with 34 per cent working in the public sector.