So you’ve submitted your census form – what next?

In the last of our blogs for Census week, Edward Morgan, Head of Census Analysis Coordination at the Office for National Statistics shares, what next?

My only regret from filling out my census form this week was the absence of any celebratory music following a click of the submit button. On reflection, a casual ‘thanks’ doesn’t quite do justice to the years spent by the hundreds of people who have designed, tested and brought this extraordinary questionnaire to life. Nonetheless, seeing the back of my answers feels like the end of one chapter, and the start of another.

For the analysis teams at ONS, the clock starts ticking on Sunday. In the Census White Paper, we’ve committed to delivering our first results to the public within a year of census day. That’s a year to collect each and every form from every household in the country; a year to conduct the census coverage survey; a year to put each form through our processing pipeline; a year to quality assure the figures; a year for the National Statistician sign off the data; a year to lay it before Parliament; all before our first big release to the public. 

Thankfully, we have talented teams of statisticians and social researchers standing by for the biggest analytical project of their lives. With most of the work planned to be carried out on kitchen tables, makeshift home offices and the end of beds up and down the country, the sense that the census is an intimate part of our lives has never been stronger.

So what will we do with all this data? For us at the ONS it’s simple: we want to tell the latest chapter of the story of our population. We’re keen to update the world on the latest chapter of – not only our demographic story – but also our education story, housing story and health story amongst many others. 

Behind the scenes, the ONS is busy designing and planning the most ambitious Census Analysis Programme of its kind. Complete with all the wizzy graphs and interactive maps you can spend hours losing yourself in. It aims to shine a comprehensive light on our society that is inclusive of every person in the country and will likely reveal statistics on issues that make us feel comfortable and uncomfortable in equal measure. 

Later in the year, we will be publishing our proposed analytical and outputs programme, and ahead of our first data release in 2022, we would love to hear what you think. So do watch this space.

Until then, do fill out your census forms this weekend if you haven’t already done so. It only takes a matter of minutes, for a set of powerful statistics that will last a lifetime. 

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