COMMONS

Census should not be scrapped

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17 April 2014

The Public Administration Select Committee publishes their report urging the Government not to scrap the 2021 Census.

Background

Good figures on the people in the country are of fundamental importance to the statistical system, policy makers and society more widely, and the ten-yearly census gives detailed information on small areas. The Report follows the National Statistician’s announcement in March 2014 that she recommends that Government keep the Census in 2021, but that it should be conducted largely online, and that the Government should make much greater use of the data which it already holds in order to improve the accuracy of population estimates.

Recommendation

The Committee supports the recommendation from the National Statistician, but urges the Office for National Statistics to do much more to make the best use of the data which the Government already collects, for example through the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs and the Department of Health. The Committee says that the Office for National Statistics’ work on the future of the Census has, to date, been limited, and recommends that the Office for National Statistics now sets out a much more ambitious vision for the use of this data to provide rich and valuable population statistics.

Chair's Comment

Bernard Jenkin MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

“The Government has previously indicated that the ten-yearly census should be axed, but we believe that it is too soon to decide whether or not to scrap the Census. We think there should still be a census in 2021. The Government should make far greater use of the data it already holds in order to improve population estimates. We urge the Government to address public concerns about data sharing and to learn the lessons from the flawed rollout of the “care.data” programme, so that the best use can be made of the information already collected and held by the Government. The Government’s objective of “better, quicker information, more frequently and cheaper” depends upon it.”

Further information

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