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Why I think the census should go further

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Those boycotting the census and joining the ‘Count Me Out’ campaign are missing the point – the census is a vital planning tool for government and councils, and I think it should go even further and ask us more.

I think the census is a great idea: it allows councils and government to target their resources on actual, rather than perceived, needs. And it gives us a clearer idea of who we are as a nation, celebrating and acknowledging the differences between us.

Plus, whether you call it social anthropology or simple curiosity, I want to know where I fit in with my fellow islanders – unlike Sarah Kidner who is more concerned about privacy issues than these benefits.

Understanding the bigger picture

For a start, the census is a vital planning tool for both central government and local councils – further budget cuts are coming and I want to know that my local council is targeting its spending exactly where it’s needed.

So if a family of five is sharing a two-bedroom house, the government needs to know about it, and needs to alter its social housing programme to reflect reality.

Even the sillier looking questions have a serious intent. For example, the question about how well you speak English is, at first sight, the census equivalent of ‘Do you understand this question?’.

But the sentiment behind it is a sensible one – if there is a significant proportion of the population unable to speak English, this situation needs to be remedied through targeted help. Conversely, if there isn’t a need for multilingual services in a particular area, councils shouldn’t be wasting money on them.

A voice for those without a faith

And yet, my biggest reason for supporting the census is that I can register my lack of religious faith. Personally I find it obscene that in 2011 members of religious organisations should still have an unelected vote in the House of Lords.

If we are ever going to separate state and religion, those of us without a faith need to make sure we’re both heard and acknowledged. The census offers us a voice.

All too often we hear about the religious ‘silent majority’. This fundamentally misses the point – as far as the state goes, religious groups of all persuasions should be silent. The secular French have the right idea.

Census should go further

The census isn’t all about big brother spying on every aspect of our lives – it’s also about making sure we get the government services and the representation we need and deserve. It may not be perfect, but the census offers one of the best ways to influence social and economic policy outside of the polling booth.

So I say, go further. Ask me more. Build a bigger picture. Ask me about my sexuality for a start. Things won’t change until our cocooned politicians and civil servants realise the true picture of Britain in 2011. Let’s celebrate our diversity by first gathering evidence of it.

Do you share this appreciation for the census, or are you still unconvinced? Sarah Kidner explains why she doesn’t want to be forced to fill it out here.

Are you for or against the 2011 census?

For (60%, 391 Votes)

Against (40%, 257 Votes)

Total Voters: 648

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Sophie Gilbert says:
24 March 2011

I agree that the census is a useful tool and I’m happy to complete the form. And yes, let’s celebrate human diversity wherever we are. In the grand scheme of things it may reveal itself to be psychologically as important to us and our survival as biodiversity physically is to planet earth. Who knows yet?


Happy with the census in general

I don’t think it should go into sexual preferences or any kind of personal questions because I do believe that there are privacy issues there. Besides, the world already has unofficial statistics about personal preferences and they can be bought freely from all the social networks. (Read the small print)

Personal preferences should not be included in a census and I think its a bit silly to suggest that.

Also to say that all religious groups should stay silent, hmm, you’re thin ice there in terms of democratic rights.

In a democracy, ALL people should have a voice, the fact that the media panders to the minority in order to make a story and sell papers, content, etc, is the real issue.


Actually, I think you are missing the point. The census isn’t really trying to find out about you personally, although it does need to know that the respondent is bona fide. This isn’t about knowing if you are straight or gay, black or asian, RC or CofE, but it is about finding out the distribution and number of people in particular groups: the make up and distribution of the population.

The more comprehensive the statistics, the better forward planning can be made to meet people’s needs. Knowing the ages and numbers of people living in an area has a direct bearing on planning schools, hospitals and everyday services we take for granted. If we don;t know that there will be 50% more 5-year-olds in three years time, how can schools be ready to meet this increase?


I wanted to fill mine out, but My Mum & Her Boyfriend fillied it out :/

Personally it should be for everyone, Not just the house hold & Yes we should be made to fill it out every 10 years or so,

Otherwise its hard to see what’s truely changing or stayed the same or got worse :/ 🙁


Scott, you have to fill it out as well. Each individual person has to fill it in. Your mum can complete the first part, and then each person has their own section… make sure to check.


I know,

I said this to My Mum, But She said no its for the house hold & You can fill out The 2011 Census at Your boyfriends flat,

I said I’m legally the rented tenant to where The 2011 Census was sent out & I may spend most of My time at My boyfriends flat, Yet I should fill out The Census were I live & pay rent & council tax 🙂

My Mum won’t listen, She’s probably already sent it off & Filled all of it out :/

As My Mum ignored Me when I said I’ll fill out My own section & Once its all filled out I’m sending it back Special Delivery 🙂


As far as I’m aware, it’s where-ever you are on the night of Sunday 27th. So, if you’re at your mum’s, or your boyfriend’s on Sunday, that’s where you’ll fill it out for. I’d suggest you’d put yourself as a ‘visitor’ for the latter, and fill out your own person section if it’s the former.


27th Of March 2011?.


27th later to come?.

I’ll probably be filling it out at My Boyfriends flat then, As an Visitor/Night stay over 🙂

As I spend most night’s at My boyfriends, Well for 2 years I have anyways 🙂

My Mum & Her Boyfriends homeless & Have been now for over 2 years, Even though in the eyes of the law & My Mum, they don’t see themselves homeless :/

Although My Mum has been staying at My rented flat for over 2 years now, Bet The Census 2011 doesn’t ask how people differ the term homeless from the law :/


I can see the point of the census for the reasons given – but what about the working questions? whether you’re self-employed with or without employees? How does that affect the planning? interesting for future generations, perhaps, but I think they’ll find plenty of ways to find out about us later, there’s *slightly* more channels of information now!