Census 2021: I live in Scotland – do I have to complete the Census this year?

Van-Tam says ‘other countries will be interested’ in UK data

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Census 2021 will compel people living in the UK to provide their household information to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). While this seems invasive, the organisation keeps hold of the data, which goes improves local services. Not everyone will take part this year, however, as census dates sometimes vary.

Do you have to complete the census if you live in Scotland?

The census is traditionally a UK-wide affair which asks households for their details across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

But each nation operates with a devolved administration and experiences its own crises.

As such, there are occasions where some census dates may differ.

In 2021, Scots will miss the census, as the Scottish Parliament has suspended it.

The National Records of Scotland (NRS) conducts the national census and announced earlier this year it would move to 2022.

The organisation cited COVID-19 in its decision, stating the virus has impacted “vital preparations for the census”.

Instead, authorities will take the time they need and administer the questionnaire by March next year.

Paul Lowe, NRS Registrar General and Chief Executive, said the organisation wanted to make sure everyone could participate.

He said: “The priority and responsibility of NRS is to put in place a census that enables everyone across Scotland to participate, so that information collected can be used to produce the analyses and deliver the benefits required by the people of Scotland.

“The census is a unique count of every household in Scotland and in the next census, for the first time, the majority of people will be encouraged to complete their questionnaire online.

“This will require a significant field force and face-to-face engagement in an effort to support digital participation, engage with the public and raise awareness of census across the population.”

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Mr Lowe added waiting would allow Scotland to provide a “high quality and safe” census next year.

He said: “The census is a major logistical operation and the twelve months running up to a census are vital in planning and testing the effectiveness and security of systems and processes.

COVID-19 restrictions have delayed or prevented many of these key activities, including engagement with key organisations, from taking place over recent months.

“This is the right decision for Scotland which will allow us to undertake a high quality and safe census in 2022 that will produce the rich data we need for many years to come. That remains our absolute priority.”

Scotland’s decision to suspend the document is rarer than the survey itself.

Including the latest suspension, authorities have only suspended the survey three times over its 220-year history.

The first census debuted in 1801, and Ireland was the first to postpone it in 1921.

The UK had to miss the occasion as a whole in 1941 due to World War 2.

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