The Lockdown Census – March 21st 2021


Here’s another appeal for your participation at this most difficult of times. Only just about a fortnight ago we asked for your support in redesignating the Forum, a consultation that closes on 19th March (click the link to be reminded why). And now we are going to lend our weight to a campaign to have you complete the census just two days later.

Attempting to run a census under gradually easing lockdown conditions is quite brave is it not? , However eased conditions may be March 21st, a Sunday, is the day of the census,

Nevertheless, the Forum urges you to complete the form as thoroughly as you can. We have heard rumours that significant changes have taken place over the past twelve months, but it is unwise to base a plan on rumours. So please do respond to the postal invitation you should soon receive to fill in the questionnaire online, and encourage others to do so.

The Rumours

What have we heard?

  • Firstly that one million people have left London in the past twelve months. That would be a big proportion of the (roughly) 9 million former population. If it is true it will make a huge difference to demand for housing, schools, GPs, public transport and possibly even cycle lanes. But planners, and that includes the Forum, need to know, not just the numbers but whether those left behind are old people, or working age; school children or women of child bearing age; have private incomes or are deserving of benefits.
  • That Transport for London will need an entirely new funding model. Public Transport has been an obvious victim of the twin curses (Sars-CoV-2 and Brexit). Last Friday at 5pm I walked across the empty concourse at King’s Cross, in normal times just the moment when offices empty and commuters head home while weekenders are setting off. Outside there was a fleet of empty Transport for London buses taking almost nobody anywhere. Transport related questions might be difficult to answer – “How do you get to work?” – “I get up and walk across the landing” or “Work? Sorry , no I don’t recall, what is that?”
  • That the High Street is finished. Shopping has changed a lot. Anything non-essential that you absolutely must have comes these days in  a brown cardboard box, or a resealable plastic bag, in the back of a van. Just a for instance in Haringey, the Arena Shopping Centre only has 12 shops and of those Next, Argos and Carphone Warehouse have moved out.

What is in the Census?

There’s quite a useful briefing paper in the House of Commons Library called CBP-8531

It contains a graphic showing how questions have changed since 1841. A few have survived for all that time, though the picture is weighted heavily to the right hand side. But “infirmity” seems to have lived up to its name and not survived to the 21st Century.

Census content since 1841

New this year are three questions. Two relate to sexual orientation and gender identity to which acceptable answers are “mind your own business”. But you must confess whether or not you’ve served in the British Armed Forces.

census 2021 questions

What the organisers say

We have been supplied with some text by the Haringey Engagement Team. I reproduce it here in full.

The census is coming. By taking part, you can help inform decisions on services that shape your community, such as healthcare, education and transport.

The census is a unique survey that happens every 10 years. It gives us a snapshot of all the people and households in England and Wales – the most detailed information we have about our society.

It’s important that you fill in your census questionnaire. Without the information you share, it’d be more difficult to understand your community’s needs and to plan and fund public services.

In one way or another, your information touches the lives of every single person living in England and Wales, whether it’s through using census information to plan new schools, doctors’ surgeries or bike lanes.

Because these things matter to us all, everyone needs to complete the census. Do not worry, government officials dealing with applications you’ve made or payments or services you receive cannot see it.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) runs the census in England and Wales and is independent from the government. Your details are protected by law and information published is always anonymous.

Census Day is Sunday 21 March 2021. You can fill yours in online as soon as you get your access code in the post. If your household circumstances change on Census Day, you can let the ONS know.

Everyone should have the support they need to fill in the census. If you, or anyone you know, needs help, there’s a wide range of support services available.

These include a contact centre that can give you help over the phone and guidance in a range of languages and accessible formats, including paper questionnaires and large print.

If you need help or have any questions, visit



  1. Mark Afford

    The basic census outputs look to be published in March 2022, but in May 2022 the new ward boundaries will be operational (at the next council elections).

    I imagine the census people know this and will publish the outputs on the new ward boundaries? It’ll make direct comparisons on 2011 a bit tricky.

    Getting deeper into geek territory, will the LSOAs and MSOAs change to fit the new ward boundaries? I don’t know.

  2. Adrian Essex Author

    Timing issues are particularly significant at the moment. The last 12 months have been hugely disruptive and if it is true that this has resulted in changes in population, employment, travel and commerce, then a document such as the Haringey Local Plan, made up in part of documents going back to 2017, and having been developed alongside the lockdown/Brexit, stand a very good chance of being badly directed even before they are published.


Leave your thought