2011 Census: Ticking all the boxes

Principal authors: James Robertson and Simon Pride, Bray Leino; Gill Reid, MediaCom; Oliver Doerle, Office for National Statistics

Q1 What is this paper about?

A census campaign is totally unique: the task is simply to provide a comprehensive snapshot of the population by engaging 25.4 million households1 to accurately inform the allocation of £100 billion public expenditure2 every year for the next decade.

A once in a decade event3, there is no second chance to get it right. The campaign planning therefore has to be impeccable, because the census information becomes the nation's essential 'planning data'.4

The traditional methodology for implementing the census over the last 200 years5 has been an army of enumerators6, personally delivering and collecting questionnaires. But after the 2001 Census, this model had become inefficient and expensive, so 2011 required a radical overhaul in favour of a new model.