NEWS5 October 2021

Online responses to census exceed ONS targets

News Public Sector Trends UK

UK – Almost nine in ten respondents to the 2021 England and Wales census chose to submit online, beating pre-census targets, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said.

Blurred people

The ONS had originally targeted 75% of census respondents submitting their census answers online, but 88.9% – 22 million households – chose to do so digitally when the census took place earlier this year.

Covid-19 had meant the ONS encouraged a digital-first census, and the census had an overall response rate of 97%.

Mobile phone was the most common method of responding to the electronic questionnaire, accounting for 56.4% of responses, while 35% used a desktop computer and 9% used tablets.

The average completion time per household was 23 minutes, which was in line with ONS expectations.

Tower Hamlets in London had the highest online share for ‘online first’ areas, with 97.3% submitting online. In Wales, Cardiff had the highest rates of online responses with 95.2%.

Data and analysis from the census will be released throughout 2022 and 2023, and quality assurance of the data is ongoing.

Pete Benton, director of the 2021 census, said: “We had a fantastic response to census 2021 with more than 97% of households completing their census to make sure they are represented for local services like school places, hospital beds and emergency services and it was great to see the overwhelming majority use our digital services.”