Ongoing consultations

13 July 2021 to 5 October 2021 - Census 2021 outputs: content design and release phase proposals

In this consultation, we’re asking you to feedback on our proposals for the content design and release of Census 2021 data and analysis. We want to know if our proposals will meet your needs and to get a steer on your evolving priorities for census data.

We’ve grouped our proposals into sections, so that you to pick and choose the topics you want to consult with us on. These include:

  • The shape of the outputs and analysis release schedule
    This asks about the approach to providing guidance on revised geographical boundaries. It also asks for feedback on the recommended ordering of data releases, and the analytical outputs that we will produce.

  • Main changes to variables compared to the 2011 Census

    This asks about plans for producing statistics and analysis using responses to the new questions on sexual orientation, gender identity, armed forces veterans and proxy response. It also asks about ethnic group, age and country of birth classifications and plans for using data from new response options in Census 2021 questions.

  • Proposals for feasibility work to derive new variables

    This asks about proposed new variables or indicators. It also asks if there are any further user needs that we could meet through innovative use of the data collected through the Census 2021 questionnaire.

  • Population-base specifications

    This asks questions about what analysis data users would conduct using alternative population bases and their needs for small population data.

  • Taking a census during a period of change

    This asks about users' needs to understand how the pandemic has impacted place of residence, economic activity, employment, travel to work and other topics. It asks about data needs for workplace zones and where there are impacts on the utility of the data for decision making.

  • Paradata

    This asks about users' needs for paradata on how we collected the data.

Your feedback will help us to make decisions on the final design of the Census 2021 outputs for England and Wales.

The consultation is open until midnight on 5 October 2021.

The best way to respond to the consultation is through our online questionnaire on Citizen Space. Other ways of responding are available. For example, you can download a Word version of the questionnaire from Citizen Space’s ‘related links’ section and email your response to

Closed consultations and results

5 November to 18 December 2020 – ONS Census 2021 Output Geography Policy, products and services

We carried out a consultation from 5 November 2020 to 18 December 2020 on Census 2021 Output Geography Policy, products and services.

On 12 March 2021, we published our response to the user feedback we received from the consultation.

The aim of the consultation was to gather census users’ views on our plans for the dissemination of census statistics and our proposed Census Geography Policy. This policy focuses largely on our plans for maintaining small area geographies; Output Areas, Lower Layer Super Output Areas, and Middle Layer Super Output Areas. We also set out our plans for producing geography products and services. The feedback we received will help us prioritise our future research and development of Census 2021 geography outputs.

28 February to 23 May 2018 – Initial View on Census 2021 Output Content Design

We carried out a consultation from 28 February 2018 to 23 May 2018 on our Initial View on Census 2021 Output Content Design.

On 18 December 2018, we published our response to the user feedback we received in the consultation.

Previously, on 15 August 2018, we published a short update on the responses received in the consultation.

The consultation aimed to gather our data users’ views on our initial design of 2021 Census outputs to ensure our proposal will meet their needs. This feedback will help us to prioritise our future research and development of 2021 Census outputs. It will also inform the order in which we release our products.

28 June to 20 September 2017 – Estimating the number of rooms and bedrooms in the 2021 Census: An alternative approach using Valuation Office Agency data – consultation

Following the 2021 Census topic consultation, where it was decided it was not appropriate to continue to ask two questions on the number of rooms and bedrooms to meet a single information need, we made a commitment to explore the use of administrative data from Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to produce estimates for number of rooms. This commitment was updated to include producing estimates for number of bedrooms.

We published a report on an alternative approach for producing estimates on rooms and bedrooms using VOA data and carried out a consultation to help us understand the impact this change could have on our data users’ work.

The 2021 Census topic consultation

Latest – 23 May 2016: The 2021 Census – Assessment of initial user requirements on content for England and Wales: Response to consultation.

Our consultation (June to August 2015) asked users of census statistics for their views on the topics that the 2021 Census might cover.

Beyond 2011 consultation

The topic consultation followed on from our extensive research after the 2011 Census into new ways of counting the population. This included a major public consultation in 2013 on the future provision of population statistics, when we proposed two approaches to census-taking. This process culminated in a successful recommendation to government. Full details can be found in our Beyond 2011 Programme archive, including the National Statistician’s recommendation.