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UK census data

The responsibility for running censuses in the UK is split between:

The Office for National Statistics is also responsible for publishing census statistics for the whole of the UK.

Because Scotland's Census is taking place a year after the rest of the UK, there will be a difference in reference dates. This will impact the comparability of UK census data.

The 3 census offices are working closely to develop UK-wide census results that best support the information needs of users where possible.

This involves consideration of how best to meet the challenges around comparability, coherence, timeliness and accessibility of the information.

2011 census data

The previous UK censuses took place on 27 March 2011- see 2011 census statistics for the UK.

After the 2011 census, the Office for National Statistics published a report on how the 3 UK censuses compare (PDF, 930kb)

Future censuses

A key aim for the 2021 and 2022 censuses is to produce consistent and coherent outputs for:

  • the whole of the UK
  • each country within the UK

The then Registrars General of Scotland, England and Wales, and Northern Ireland initially agreed to hold censuses at the same time in 2021.

However, the 2021 census in Scotland was moved to 2022 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are working closely with ONS and NISRA and our data users on implications for UK outputs.

Working together

We are working to design the next Scottish census in a way that is consistent with the other UK censuses. You can find out more about how we will work together in:

The 3 census offices work closely with each other in many areas, such as:

  • the topics the census asks about
  • lessons learned from each census
  • best practice

The aim is to harmonise our approaches and increase our ability to produce UK-wide outputs.

However, there will be some differences to:

  • the questions asked
  • how the data is processed
  • some of the detailed methodology

We will continue to report on efforts to harmonise the UK's censuses, as well as areas where it is not possible to be fully aligned.

Are you a UK census data user?

A new user working group has been set up for UK census data for 2021 and 2022.

The group will be an opportunity for census offices and UK census data users to share information and feedback.

Membership includes:

  • the UK census offices
  • academics
  • researchers
  • representatives from local authorities and councils
  • central government
  • charities
  • commercial organisations

2021 and 2022 survey

In March and April 2021, the working group surveyed its own members about the direction and priorities of the group. This included:

  • what UK census data is used and what for
  • geographical and topic needs
  • any other issues about UK census data

Get involved

The group is looking for UK census data users in Scotland to understand what UK data they are using and what would be useful.

If you are interested in contributing to or joining this group, please contact scotlandscensus@nrscotland.gov.uk.