We ran a survey of the UK population on the 8th March as part of an ongoing project between IAESV and CURA to track attitudes and views during the coronavirus pandemic. In the survey we asked some questions about the upcoming Census in England and Wales.

One of the questions was open-ended – Why do you think it is important to complete the census? The following word cloud (created with TagCrowd) summarises what people said.

The vast majority of responses pointed to the need for accurate data in order to inform government policy and provide an informed snapshot of the population. The answers were, therefore, primarily positive in their outlook and positioned the census as a valuable exercise.

While some participants did mention compliance (there is a £1000 fine for not completing the census) and the requirement to fill in the census, this was relatively rare. Interestingly, civic duty and public duty was also mentioned by only a handful of participants.

It seems, therefore, that people see the completion of the census as important for the data it gives rather than as an act in itself (whether that be compliance or civic duty). This suggests that efforts to encourage completion of the survey should focus on how the census informs economic and social policy in the UK.

A total of 1104 participants took the survey of which 991 are living in England and Wales. The survey was broadly representative of the UK population. Read here for more about a related project to engage people of Leicester in the census.