With March 21 just around the corner, Census 2021 is in full swing.

Run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the census is the once-in-a-decade survey that gives the most accurate estimate of all people and households in England and Wales.

Letters, with unique access codes, have been sent out and responses are already coming in.

“A successful census will help give the best picture of the needs of everyone living in England and Wales,” Iain Bell, deputy national statistician at the ONS, said.

“It helps us understand what our society needs now and what it will likely need in the future. We’ve already had a fantastic response to the census through our engagement work across the country. Now I’d encourage everyone who can, to complete their questionnaire, whether that be on your laptops, phones or computers.

“It takes around 10 minutes per person and if you can’t get online, there are paper forms available for those who need them. Now is the time to make your mark on history.”

Census 2021 is coming at a critical point. It will be fundamental to understanding the impact the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) – and EU exit – has had on different communities and how everyone lives.

It will not only provide a fresh picture of the population and their health – it will also shed light on social and economic changes to their lives. It will provide new information that will be used for years to come. This information will inform decisions on public services, including hospitals, schools, universities and job centres, to meet the needs of a changing society.

Assistive technologies

The electronic questionnaire is compatible with most assistive technologies, while the ONS has produced accessible videos with British Sign Language, audio and subtitles, working with the Royal Association for Deaf People.

People with speech and/or hearing impairments can use a text relay prefix when calling the contact centre and web chat guidance is also available online for those who prefer to communicate in writing. These options will be available nearer to census time.

Easy Read information leaflets about the census, Braille guidance booklets, including information about the Census and a Braille translation of the household paper questionnaire, and a large print paper questionnaire pack can all be ordered from the contact centre once the Census is live.

No-one can identify you in the census statistics the ONS publish, including other government bodies. Census records, which include your personal details, will be kept secure for 100 years and only then can future generations view them.

For those who can’t get online, paper questionnaires are available on request, along with language support. People can also complete the census over the phone with help from trained staff via the ONS’ free phone contact centre.

The ONS is aiming to provide in-person support to complete the census online through Census Support Centres where it is safe to do so.

The census includes questions about your sex, age, work, health, education, household size and ethnicity. And, for the first time, there is a question asking people whether they have served in the armed forces, as well as voluntary questions for those aged 16 and over on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Census field officers will follow up with households after Census Day on March 21 if they have not yet completed their questionnaire. They will never enter a house, they will always be socially distanced, be equipped with PPE and work in line with all government guidance.

Results will be available within 12 months, although personal records will be locked away for 100 years, kept safe for future generations.

To complete your census, and to find out how you can get help, please visit census.gov.uk or call 0800 141 2021.