Released on behalf of the ONS.

22 March 2017

In preparation for the 2021 Census, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is carrying out a census test in randomly-selected households in Sheffield on 9 April.

With the next census set to be predominantly online, the 2017 Test is designed to check that systems and services are working correctly, while also trying out new questions that may be used in 2021. Included in this test are proposed new questions on sexual identity and volunteering[1].

Selected households will receive a covering letter and unique access code inviting them to take part in the 2017 Test. All they need to do is head online to and fill in their questionnaire by answering a few questions about themselves and the people who will share their household with them on 9 April.

“The census is important to all of us, as it’s used to help plan and fund a range of services for communities such as transport, education and health,” Acting Census Director Ben Humberstone said.

“The 2017 Test will give us a great chance to test our plans for the 2021 Census – including questions, systems and services. We can then learn and make improvements before census day.

“If your household receives an invite, I’d like to encourage you to take part in this test. It will take just 10 minutes per person. If you do, you’ll be helping us shape the 2021 Census and therefore the future of both your area and our country.”

Sheffield City Council is one of seven local authorities across England and Wales chosen to take part in the test[2].

Whatever households tell the census test will be in strictest confidence and will be used by ONS only to assess questions and systems ahead of 2021.

Census officers will be in the area from 13 April to help households fill in their questionnaires and to offer assistance to any households who haven’t responded.

For more information visit or contact the census helpline on 0300 068 3001.


ONS Media Relations contact
Richard Miles: tel 01633 456 393, email

[1] ONS is using a split sample to test the question on sexual identity. Therefore not all households will receive a questionnaire with that question in it.
[1] The seven local authorities part of the test are Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Blackpool Borough Council, Powys County Council (Cyngor Sir Powys), Sheffield City Council, South Somerset District Council, Southwark Council, West Dorset District Council.