Alternatives to the Census: consultation and guidance on responding
The public consultation on ‘The Census and future provision of population statistics in England and Wales’ was launched on 23 September 2013 and closes on 13 December 2013.
Research by the ‘Beyond 2011’ Programme has resulted in a clear view that there are two possible approaches to census-taking in the future:
- a census once a decade – similar to the 2011 Census but primarily online; or
- a census using existing administrative data and compulsory annual surveys.
Both approaches would provide annual statistics about the size of the population, nationally and for local authorities, as we do currently. A census using existing data and annual surveys would provide statistics about population characteristics every year. An online census would provide more detailed statistics but only once a decade. Different users will have different views on the approaches, depending on how they use the data, and the ‘Beyond 2011′ Programme welcomes views from anyone.
The consultation closes on 13 December 2013.
The Beyond 2011 Independent Working Group was established in June 2013 and has issued a call to Save our Statistics. The Group published a report in November 2013 aimed at helping those who have not yet responded and are looking for guidance.
The Beyond 2011 Programme was set up in April 2011 to investigate and assess alternative options for producing the population and socio-demographic data required by users in England and Wales. This work includes testing models for the use of administrative and survey data as an alternative to the UK’s traditional census approach. Beyond 2011 will provide recommendations to Parliament in 2014.
The first Beyond 2011 public consultation ran from October 2011 to January 2012. A total of 266 organisations and individuals provided responses to the consultation and 207 people attended the supporting workshops.
The Equality and Diversity Forum responded to the 2011 consultation.
‘StatsUserNet’ has been set up by the Royal Statistical Society and the Statistics User Forum, with support from the UK Statistics Authority. It provides an online forum for users of official statistics to engage with each other and with producers of official statistics. Consultations on issues related to official statistics are also promoted through ‘StatsUserNet’ to enable easy feedback from users to producers. Many topic-based statistics user groups have been established over the years, which are affiliated to the Statistics User Forum, and which have their own online ‘Communities’ and websites within StatsUserNet (for example, the Health Statistics User Group and the Labour Market Statistics User Group). A StatsUserNet online community has been created to support an Equality and Diversity Statistics User Group. The process for joining StatsUserNet is as follows:
- Go to http://www.statsusernet.org.uk/Home/
- If you are not already a member, click on ‘sign up’ in the middle of the page
- Enter your details and create a password
- Log on to StatsUserNet
You can then click on ‘Communities’ to see all the groups that already exist, and can choose to join any. You will see that some people have already joined the ‘Equality & Diversity Statistics Users’ community. You can also choose whether you wish to receive alerts whenever a new entry is created in your communities, or a daily digest. A library facility allows documents to be deposited for sharing, such as presentations from events, methodological papers and any other documents.
Dev Virdee, User Engagement Programme Manager for Official Statistics will be pleased to provide further information on ‘StatsUserNet’. His contact details are firstname.lastname@example.org.
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