UK Census data

Working with Office for National Statistics and National Records of Scotland to provide Census data for the UK.

Overview

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) is responsible for planning and conducting Census 2021 in Northern Ireland. National Records of Scotland (NRS) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) are responsible for Census 2022 in Scotland and Census 2021 in England and Wales, respectively. In addition, ONS coordinates the production of Census statistics for the UK.

The previous UK censuses took place on 27 March 2011. Following this, the ONS disseminated Census 2011 statistics for the UK via its UK Censuses data webpage. It also produced a 2011 Census UK Comparability Report (PDF 930KB) showing comparability of the census questions and outputs across the UK.

For the upcoming Census, NISRA, NRS and ONS aim to work together effectively to produce high-quality population and housing statistics for each constituent country and the UK, which meet the needs of data users. NISRA and ONS will conduct their censuses simultaneously in March 2021, while NRS will be undertaking the census in Scotland in March 2022.

UK Harmonisation

In order to support harmonisation activities and coordinate engagement with users of UK data, we meet regularly with ONS, Welsh Government and NRS. We are working closely to ensure we continue to produce the UK-wide population statistics necessary and will continue to engage with users through the ONS-led UK Data User Working Group. UK population estimates for mid-2021 will still be delivered, but they will be based on the 2021 Censuses in Northern Ireland and England and Wales and “rolled-forward” from the 2011 Census in Scotland.

The November 2019 update to the statement of agreement between the National Statistician and the Registrars General for NI and Scotland on the conduct of the 2021 Censuses in the UK outlines progress made in aspects where the three Census offices aim to harmonise. This follows on from the November 2016 update.

The Censuses across the UK have been designed to be conducted in a consistent manner. The three Census offices collaborate effectively through multiple topic-based working groups to harmonise elements of Census 2021 where possible and facilitate the production of UK-level Census data products.

Owing to varying user requirements, there will be differences in some of the questions asked in the upcoming census across the UK. Furthermore, there will be some differences in the data processing methods employed. As we move forward, the three offices will provide information on ongoing harmonisation activities on their respective websites. Work will continue at pace to share the lessons learned, best practice from each Census office and to identify and explain to stakeholders any areas where UK harmonisation is not achievable.

Are you a UK data user?

We would be keen to hear from anyone who uses UK census data so we can understand and best support your data needs.

Please contact census@nisra.gov.uk to share your UK census data needs.