Wednesday, 17th March 2021
Written by Millie Breeze
The census is a survey that takes place every ten years, with the purpose of obtaining accurate estimations of all the people and households in England and Wales. Every household is required by law to complete the census, so it is really important that people are aware of why the census is important and how they can fill it out.
The census collects a wide range of demographic information about every member of a household, including information about topics such as age, sex, marital status, health, education, and occupation. The information gathered creates a detailed snapshot of society, including population characteristics like age and size. Data collected then enables the government and local authorities to plan and fund local services, dependent on the needs highlighted in the census. Charities and other services can also use census information to improve services. A range of services can be funded or improved, including healthcare, education, and transport. Therefore, it is essential to complete the census to ensure that funding for required services in the local area is provided.
For the first time, the 2021 census will include voluntary questions regarding gender identity and sexual orientation for people over 16 years old. Currently, there are no official figures in the UK for those who identify their gender as different from the sex registered at birth. Gathering this information is vital as it can help to shape services, develop policy, and improve equality for the transgender community, according to the Office for National Statistics. Previously, census statistics on ethnicity and age have highlighted inequalities, and it is hopeful that this will be the case with identifying and tackling barriers that LGBTQ people face. Due to there being a lack of official statistics on the size of the LGBTQ community in the UK, policy makers may be unaware of the extent and nature of the disadvantages that the LGBTQ community experience, particularly in terms of education, health, and employment outcomes. Therefore, by providing information on gender identity and sexual orientation, a range of needs will be highlighted that can result in better funding of services for the LGBTQ community.
Voluntary organisations often rely on census information in order to obtain data about the communities that they are working with. Additionally, census information can be used as evidence for funding applications. For charities such as Trade Sexual Health, the new questions on sexual orientation and gender identity are particularly important for these reasons, as further knowledge of the needs of the LGBTQ community will result in more specific, tailored services aimed at targeted groups of people.
People are required to participate in the census on Sunday 21st March. This can be done online with the 16-digit access code that has been provided, on a computer, mobile, or tablet. Alternatively, a paper census questionnaire sent via the post can be requested by visiting the census website, or over the phone if internet access is an issue.
If you are in a household where your sexual orientation or gender identity is not disclosed, you can request your own individual access code and fill out the census yourself. No one in your household will be informed of this, and these answers will be given priority over any other information submitted about you in the household census. This is a really good way to provide accurate data if LGBTQ individuals are experiencing any difficulties at home, and Trade are encouraging these individuals to do this so that their needs can be heard.
Additionally, the Proud to be Counted campaign encourages the LGBTQ population to engage with the census, with the aim of giving the community a voice and demonstrating that reforms still need to be made. There is further information about the campaign and how to request an individual census form on the Proud to be Counted website, and you can use #ProudToBeCounted to raise awareness of the importance of the campaign.
It is essential to complete the census legally; but also so that local services can be shaped dependent on the needs of local communities. This can result in better services for a range of people, leading to better health outcomes and increased quality of life.