May 4, 2023

The Census 2021 data for England and Wales will be released on 5th June. However, for most of our customers, this isn’t as simple as it first appears. We recommend you read this article in full for more information on how the release will affect you when released.

Census 2021 Introduction

The UK 2021 census was carried out around March 2021 for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, due to the disruption caused by Covid 19, Scotland postponed their census by a year. It also caused delays in the release of the data collected by the other countries.

With data being made available for England and Wales, Northern Ireland estimating a summer 2023 release, and Scotland looking like a 2024 release, what does that mean for Vision and mapping projects?

Current Situation and Plan

The current plan is to release the census in three main stages.

Current Situation and Plan

The first release will include the Census 2021 data and geography for England and Wales, followed by Northern Ireland in late 2023 and then Scotland in 2024.

That means that in the initial update, customers wanting to use the England and Wales Census 2021 data will also have to continue using the 2011 data for Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The scheduled release date for the England and Wales 2021 census data is Monday the 5th of June.

What will be available on June 5th?

On the 5th of June, the 2021 census data for England and Wales will be available at the following geographies:

  • Postcode Sector, Postcode District and Postcode Area (2022 versions)
  • Wards and Local Authority Districts (2022 versions)

Remember, Scotland and Northern Ireland will still reference Census 2011 data until they release the updated data. We will still need additional time to process it and make it ready for Vision and Mapping projects.

What isn't going to be available on June 5th?

Unfortunately, due to the complications surrounding the Output Area geography, we’re having to postpone this release until we have the Scotland and Northern Ireland equivalents.

Considering the release dates for Scotland and Northern Ireland and our processing time, we would estimate a 2024 release for the new census data at Output Area or equivalent geography.

What are the requirements for updating to the latest census data and how do I update?

To access the England and Wales census 2021 data, you will need to update to the 2022 versions of the Postcode geography and Ward/Local Authority Districts. We will NOT be releasing the new census data for any of the previous versions.

England and Wales census 2021 data

Updating to the latest Postcode geography follows the same process that has been available for a few years. If you’re interested in what it looks like, you can find out more in our help centre article, updating to the latest boundary release.

Unfortunately, updating the newest versions of the Wards and Local Authority Districts isn’t as straightforward. Due to the changes made to these layers since the last census, and to keep them up to date moving forward, we’re having to carry out these updates on your behalf. When you’re ready to update, contact us, and we’ll schedule an update date and time to move you across. You can see all the update steps in the image below.

UK 2022 Ward and Local Authority Changes.

We’ve also created a couple of supporting documents to help you to navigate the changes to these layers; you can get these from our help centre article, UK 2022 Ward and Local Authority Changes.

Are there new or different demographics available with the new Census?

Yes, over 370 census demographics will be available for England and Wales. This includes lots of new demographics but also changes to existing ones to navigate. For more information, read our article about 2011 to 2021 new and changed demographics.

Something else to be aware of is that the definition of what a “Household” is has changed in the 2021 census. This means that when you update your territories to use the latest census data, it may surprise you that some of your territories might have decreased in the number of households rather than increased. For more information on the change, read our article, understanding households in the UK Census.

Is there any extra support available with this update?

Yes, we have put support packages in place for our clients, whether using our consultation services and mapping projects or subscribing to Vision. If you would like some extra support, then please get in touch with us.

Alternatively, you can download our Vision update packages document, or for mapping projects, the Census 2021 and your project document.