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Opinion : Did the 2021 Census miss key questions?

| March 22, 2021

Last Sunday 21st March 2021 happened to be Census day.

Was it really 10 years since the last Census? My, how times flies.

On Sunday every household in the country had to complete the Census again, however this time there was the opportunity to complete it on a computer.

Naturally my good self opted for a paper form, you won’t find my good self entering all my personal details into a computer on the interweb especially with all the naughty hackers and ‘bad actors’ around these days. No doubt the on-line census was secure but my good self would rather be safe than sorry.

Given the once in a ten year opportunity to gain information from every household my good self was surprised at the poor quality of the questions on the Census form.

Currently the UK is experiencing the effects of a pandemic as well as the fall out from Brexit, indeed there have been empty shelves in supermarkets. But what would happen if there was major disruption to the country’s food supply, perhaps as a result of war? I would have thought the following questions would have been on the Census to gauge the country’s preparedness for such an event :

  • Does your property have a garden where you can grow your own food?
  • Does you property have any fruit trees in the garden?
  • Does your property have a greenhouse?

The Census form asked if the person filling it in had served in the armed forces, thinking of the questions above perhaps it should have asked if they have gardening knowledge and can grow their own food?

Surely the Census would have been an opportunity to gauge the levels of wealth or poverty too? It asked what type of central heating a property has but perhaps the following questions should also have been included :

  • Does the property have double glazing?
  • Does the property have cavity wall insulation?
  • Does the property have Broadband and if so is that using fibre to the premises?
  • Do you have a subscription to a satellite or cable TV service?
  • Has the property been extended in any way since it was built?
  • Does the property have a loft conversion?
  • If building work has been undertaken was it covered by ‘permitted development’ rules? (To see how many people are taking advantage of the ‘permitted development’ regulations)
  • Does the property at least one garage for a car?
  • Are you in receipt of state welfare benefits?
  • Has your house even been burgled in the last 10 years?
  • Has your house ever been affected by flooding in the last 10 years?
  • In what year was the property built? (To gauge the age of the countries housing stock)

Sadly there was nothing about ‘green issues’ such as :

  • Of the cars to which you have access are any of then electric powered or hybrid fuelled?
  • Does your property have solar panels installed?
  • Does your property have an electric car charging point installed?
  • Do you engage with local recycling schemes?

On social issues surely the following questions would have been useful :

  • Do you have off street parking for all the vehicles at your property?
  • Do you run a business from your property? (If so are there commercial vehicles associated with the business and are they parked on road?)

As far as my good self is concerned the latest Census appeared to be a waste of time, not only did it fail to ask key questions but the information is by now out of date as people have moved home. Sadly the Census never asked if the people on the form were in the process of moving house, when they plan to move and where they plan to move to or even if they plan to emigrate.

On course those of a shady nature, criminals and illegal migrants are unlikely to put their details on the Census and no doubt at many of the countries unregistered Houses of Multiple Occupancy the landlord filled the form in as ‘nobody lives here’ effectively rendering the process inaccurate.

It is said this may be the last Census as the information on the form can be obtained from other sources, let’s hope that’s the case as at a cost of £900m in my opinion the latest Census was no more that a huge waste of public money that failed to ask key questions.

What do you think?

My blogs are published regularly here on the WycombeToday.com website.

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