The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has secured a deal with social charity Good Things Foundation as part of plans to help people without digital skills to complete the "digital first" Census in England and Wales, taking place in 2021. Launched in 1801, the Census has been run once a decade – apart from 1941 due to the war – ever since but soaring costs have forced ONS to investigate other methods of gathering the data.
The organisation been investigating alternatives and has commissioned four pilot schemes that are due to report back to make the Census more relevant to modern life.
Good Things Foundation will work with organisations in the national Online Centres Network to help people in need of support through trained staff in community locations. People will also be given the option of completing the Census by telephone, on paper or at community events run by ONS field staff.
A census rehearsal, led by the ONS, will take place later this year in four areas of England Wales.
Good Things Foundation chief executive Helen Milner said: “We’re delighted that ONS has recognised the importance of supporting those who lack digital skills or access to participate in the ‘digital first’ Census. It’s vital that everyone has a voice and is counted.
“By working with community organisations in the Online Centres Network, we’ll be able to provide support that recognises the other barriers faced by those who are offline, including unemployment, low confidence and disability. We’ll also be able to create the opportunity for people to keep building their digital skills, through other programmes offered by Online Centres.”