Census? What Census?

Now we had the 2011 Census a few weeks ago. Sunday 27th March 2011 was the day we were all supposed to fill in the form telling the government everything about our lives. The forms are great and include questions like question 19 which asks

How well do you understand English? – the options for answers range from very well to not at all.

Now how can you get through the first 18 questions if you don’t understand or speak English. Also, how would you understand that question?

(Before you ask, I know about this as it has been in the paper and I have seen other people’s copy of the form)

Now, as you know it is compulsory for every household to complete the census. So, how do you do it? Well you can either fill in and post back the paper form OR do it online.

Now, I have not received a paper form, so that option is not open to me. So, I decided to complete it online. Simple eh? Well, its the government, so not at all simple.

So, I find the government website to do the census online. That’s easy, then the first task is as follows

Please enter your personal internet access code to begin your online questionnaire, or to finish one you have already started.

  • First block of your access code
  • Second block of your access code
  • Third block of your access code
  • Forth block of your access code
  • Fifth block of your access code. If you make a mistake, please close your browser and start again.

You will find your personal internet access code on your paper questionnaire

Your personal internet access code can be found on the front of your paper questionnaire in the top right hand corner.

Oh yes, that will be the paper questionnaire they have not sent me!

Never mind, the government have said they will send people round to houses who have not returned census forms and if necessary issue new forms. So, I’ll wait for them to give me a form and then fill it in.

I returned home from my week away to find a hand delivered card through the door telling me I am one of the few people who have not completed the census form and to complete the paper form and return it or use the personal internet access code on your paper questionnaire and do it online. Oh and it helpfully tells me that I face a £1,000 fine if I do not complete the form. Remember, this is the form they have not sent me yet and the personal internet code is on the form they have not given me!

Oh, I also have a letter via the Royal Mail telling me I have not completed the census form and that the quickest way to complete it is to “Go to www.census.gov.uk and use the internet access code on the front of the questionnaire”. This will be the number on the form they have not sent to me yet.

So, when they prosecute me for not completing the form they haven’t sent me or for failing to fill it in on line using the personal internet access code  they have not supplied me, will it be a defence to not fill in the form they have not sent to me.

Now it seems to me that if they want me to fill in the form, they should supply me with the form or the means to fill it in online.

Now after trawling round the website www.census.gov.uk I find the following section

What happens if you don’t take part
1. If a questionnaire is not completed and returned, reminders will be sent out to households.

2. Census staff will visit and offer to help householders complete their questionnaire.

3. If the householder continues to refuse, information will be forwarded to the census office.

4. A letter will be sent, along with a replacement questionnaire, to enable householders to take part.

5. If the householder continues to refuse, census officers will make a final visit. They will offer to help the householder complete the questionnaire

6. If the householder continues to refuse, the case will be referred to solicitors.

7. Prosecutions will take place in magistrates’ courts. Successful prosecutions will result in a fine of up to £1,000 and a criminal record

I presume that the letter in the post was item 1. The card through the door was meant to be item 2? As I have not refused to complete the form and indeed want to complete the form (its my civic duty) how can they complete item 3.

Rather than this would it not have been simpler simply to send me a form in the first place?


Whilst typing this blog post, I have just seen an advert on the TV about the referendum on 5th May on the potential change to the voting system. It says that the changes are explained in the booklet “Local elections and Referendum on the voting system used to elect MPs to the House of Commons” that has been delivered to every household.

All I can say is that the leaflet must have been in the same envelope as my census form as it also has not arrived. Now, before you ask, I am on the electoral roll and have received my polling card for the referendum.


So Mr Politician any chance of sticking a census form in with the leaflet preferably BEFORE the referendum takes place? If you took a few minutes away from your expenses claims you could get a system that works.

HM Government – wasting your money on half baked ideas since 1066!

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