Scrapping the UK census could seriously undermine politicians’ ability to formulate evidence-based social policy, a committee of MPs has warned.
The Office for National Statistics is currently considering whether to abolish the national census, which has taken place every 10 years since 1801 (except for 1941, when it was cancelled as a result of the Second World War). The government has suggested that the census is too expensive – the 2011 census cost £480m.
Alternative data collection methods under consideration include making greater use of local administrative data sets and internet research methods. The ONS will reach a conclusion in 2014 about whether to carry out the 2021 census.
The Commons Science & Technology Committee has looked into the possible alternatives to the census. In a new report, it said that the social science benefits of the census “outweigh the financial costs”. It was “not convinced that the use of administrative data would be a cheaper option over a 10-year census cycle”, it said. Read more