Posted by: John Brace | 8th March 2011

Census 2011 – Continued – Further Questions

Some of these I answered yesterday, but there are some more people have now.

Q. Why isn’t the question about religion compulsory?
A. It always has been voluntary (as far back as I can recall for at least the last 100 years). I’m not sure why it is now, but there used to be discrimination on religious grounds in the workplace regarding promotion for government jobs. Information on people’s religion has been used previously for ethnic cleansing. We only have to look to the history of Northern Ireland to see why it could cause problems if you made this a mandatory question as some people don’t trust government with this information.

Q. Why is there no question 17 in the census?
A. Q.17 is Can you understand, speak, read or write Welsh? so it doesn’t appear on the English Census.

Q. Is there a legal obligation to fill in the census?
A. Yes.

Q. What if I’m on holiday for the census?
A. You still need to fill it in, and if on holiday in the UK registered as a visitor where you are on the 27th March.

Q. Can I be fined for not filling out the census?
A. Yes.

Q. Can I refuse to answer some questions on the census?
A. Yes, the religion question. As to the rest I’m unusure.

Q. Does the government census get sold to marketing companies?
A. Census data is given away for free in its raw data form after 100 years and is used to compile statistics before that. Basically the answer is no.

Q. Is information on a census form checked?
A. There would be checks done on the statistics before they are published, however every detail on every census form returned won’t be double-checked.

Q. In what order are census forms sent out?
A. I don’t know.


  1. I can’t seem to look at this page from my smartphone!!

    • What’s the problem you have looking at this page with your smartphone?