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Census 2021 - Count Carers In

Census 2021 is being held on 21 March 2021 in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) runs the census in England and Wales and is independent from the government.

We want all carers to identify themselves on their census form, as part of our #CountCarersIn campaign.

The census only happens every 10 years and it is used to informs decisions on services, such as healthcare, education, and transport, and it also provides a more accurate and up to date figure for the number of carers in the UK. National and local charities use the census to make the case for more services for carers.

Census 2021 contains a specific question (question 24 in England and Wales) on the provision of unpaid care:

“Do you look after, or give help or support to, anyone because they have long-term physical or mental health conditions or illnesses, or problems related to old age?”

It is vital that all those providing unpaid care identify themselves as a carer in this year's census, by ticking ‘yes’ to question 24 and indicating the number of hours they care for.

How you can support our campaign

If you are an unpaid carer, make sure you tick yes to Question 24 in the census. And you can help by sharing information on social media asking other carers to do the same. See suggested tweets below:

  • I will be identifying as an unpaid carer when I complete #Census2021 on 21 March, by ticking yes to question 24! If you look after someone but do not get paid for it, make sure you identify as a carer too! #CountCarersIn

  • As an unpaid carer for my …. I’ll be ticking yes to question 24 in #Census2021 on 21 March, helping to ensure we have an accurate measure of the number of carers in this country. #CountCarersIn

If you are a local organisation and would like to promote our #CountCarersIn campaign to carers, below we outline some simple steps you can take:

  • Share info about identifying as a carer when completing the census on your website.
  • Include information about the census in your regular emails to unpaid carers.
  • Put out Tweets/Facebook posts regarding the census, in the run up to 21 March.
  • Include info about the census in any engagement sessions you hold with carers.

We have published a detailed briefing for Carers UK's Affiliates regarding unpaid carers and the census - please see here.

We have also created a campaign toolkit which includes suggested content for each of the above ideas. You can access the toolkit here.

Why is the Census important regarding unpaid carers?

National and local carers’ organisations rely on the census as a vitally important data source regarding unpaid carers. This is especially the case due to a lack of other means at national level of identifying carers systematically.

Including a question on carers in the census also provides lots of information about carers and their lives, including: 

  • The gender breakdown of unpaid carers.
  • That carers are less likely to be in work than non-carers.
  • That carers providing a lot of care have poorer health than non-carers.
  • The breadth and range of ethnicity of carers.
  • How old carers are and how much this varies in different areas.
  • That deprived areas are more likely to have higher numbers of carers.
  • Rural areas have more older carers.
  • Which people are more likely to be a carer, and their religious identity.
  • For the first time, in 2021, the census will also provide information about LGBTQ+ carers.

The census also informs decisions on services, such as healthcare, education, and transport, and it also provides a more accurate and up to date figure for the number of carers in the UK. This information is used by National and Local Government to make decisions about these services and the different levels of support needed in different areas. This information is also used by organisations like Carers UK to campaign for greater rights and recognition for carers.

About Census 2021

Census 2021 will be the first digital-first census. To complete the census, people will be provided with an “access code” by ONS, this will be sent to every household through the post. To fill in the census online, households will enter the code into ONS’s secure website.

ONS state that “the safety of your information is our top priority. You cannot be identified in the statistics we publish. The personal information you give us is protected by law.” Find out more about how ONS handle data and security.

ONS have provided a FAQ for any questions you might have. See here.

ONS provides support for anyone finding it challenging to access the census. See here.

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