In June 2015, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) launched a public consultation asking census users for their views on the topics that the 2021 Census questionnaire in England and Wales might cover.

Anyone could take part in this consultation, which closed in August 2015, and the resulting users’ feedback is informing further research which will contribute to the development and testing of appropriate census questions. The outcome of the consultation is described in the “Response to consultation” section.

What we're doing now

Further question development work is being carried out before our recommendations inform a government White Paper in 2018.

You can see the latest updates on our question development pages.

Past news and reports

19 October 2017, Update on 2021 Census for England and Wales

An update from the census director on the 2021 Census for England and Wales.

Response to consultation


This report, published on 23 May 2016, presents ONS’s full response to the consultation, updating our initial view on 2021 Census content for England and Wales.

The report provides an overview of the evaluation process we used to assess the responses and summarises the results of the evaluation. It sets out ONS’s updated view on the topics to be included in the 2021 Census, including a summary of proposals for new topics, next steps and an overview of our plans.

Download the 2021 Census – Assessment of initial user requirements on content for England and Wales: Response to consultation

Cyfrifiad 2021 – Asesiad o ofynion cychwynnol defnyddwyr o ran cynnwys ar gyfer Cymru a Lloegr: Ymateb i’r ymgynghoriad

Topic-specific reports

Alongside the overview are a set of topic reports which provide more detail. These are listed alphabetically in, and can be downloaded from, Table 1. Two research plans are included summarising proposed research and testing about suggested new topics.

Table 1: Topic-specific reports
Armed forces community Carers'
Demography Education
Ethnicity and national identity Gender identity topic report and the Research plan for gender identity
Genealogy Health
Housing Income
Labour Market and socio-economic classifications Language
Migration and citizenship Outputs and enumeration bases
Religion Sexual identity topic report and the Research plan for sexual identity

The consultation responses in full

Provided in Table 2 are the responses we received. The views expressed in each response are those of the respondent and not necessarily ONS’s views. Where a respondent has not given permission to publish their name, their response is marked as “Anonymous”.

Table 2: Consultation responses
Organisations’ responses Individuals’ responses
A to C A to C
D to F D to G
G to K H to K
L to O L to O
P to S P to R
T to Z S to Z
Anonymous Anonymous 1
Anonymous 2

Earlier summary report – 19 November 2015

ONS issued this early overview of the responses (PDF, 976KB) while evaluating all the responses against the criteria we published in June 2015.

The consultation

How we ran the consultation

ONS conducted “The 2021 Census – Initial view on content for England and Wales” consultation online using Citizen Space from 4 June to 27 August 2015. It asked users of census statistics for their views on the topics that the 2021 Census questionnaire might cover.

The supporting documents for the consultation are available to download.

Why we consulted

“Decisions based on the census can touch the lives of all of us. Individuals and organisations alike are able to make better decisions based on the unique and reliable evidence base that the census provides. But we can't run this major project alone. We need the help of census users to ensure that the census stays relevant and credible. So do please take the time to share your views through this consultation. Together we can make sure we understand as much as we need to about the population in 2021."

John Pullinger, National Statistician

Previous consultations

The census and the future provision of population statistics in England and Wales: December 2013

This consultation ran from September to December 2013. ONS invited data users’ views on two potential approaches for taking the census in the future:

  • a census once a decade, like that conducted in 2011, but primarily online

  • a census using existing government data and compulsory annual surveys

Read more about this consultation.

Download our report on the outcome of this consultation.

Related downloads