Scotland’s Census 2021 – Homeless People Count

Sophie and Anna2With planning for the next census in 2021 well underway at National Records of Scotland, our Statistical Futures team are focussed on understanding the needs of our users, data users and respondents.

As part of our preparations, Sophie Davies and Anna Krakowska from the Enumeration team have been engaging with groups and organisations that work with homeless people, as well as with people who are currently or formerly homeless, to better understand their needs and any barriers to participation.

Sophie and Anna have met and held workshops with Fresh Start, Cyrenians, Crisis and Rowan Alba, as well as with Homeless Action Scotland, Edinburgh Council Housing Support Services and Heriot Watt University.  In the course of their research, Sophie and Anna also visited Edinburgh’s only homeless shelter, run by Bethany Christian Trust.

These discussions have inspired a strategic rethink for counting homeless people in Scotland during the 2021 Census. The data from the census in 2011 estimated that there were 98 people homeless or sleeping rough in Scotland, whereas Heriot-Watt researchers estimated there are currently around 600.

The Enumeration team is therefore designing and developing a detailed, tailored enumeration strategy, in collaboration with key stakeholders, to help improve data collected on homeless people in 2021.

The success of Scotland’s Census 2021 will require the continued support and contribution of many groups and organisations.  Sophie and Anna’s work is helping to ensure that the next census will provide valuable and high quality data.

Scotlands Census 2021 - Data Collection - Enumeration - Delivery Model - New

For further information on Scotland’s Census 2021, and to keep up to date with all the latest news, you can sign up to our newsletter or visit the Scotland’s Census website.

WW1 and the Census

Preparations are now under way for Scotland’s Census 2021 but a hundred years ago the First World War had a dramatic impact on the people who planned and delivered the census in 1921.

This photo shows Census staff in 1911 in what is now the Archivist’s Garden between General Register House and New Register House in Edinburgh.

The largely male staff of the 1911 census
The staff of the 1911 Census, pictured in what is now the Archivists’ Garden between General Register House and New Register House in Edinburgh


The 1921 photo was taken on the steps of George Heriot’s School in Edinburgh

The staff of the 1921 Census - including many more women than the 1911 Census.
The staff of the 1921 Census – including many more women than the 1911 Census.

The two pictures reflect a direct consequence of the First World War when women entered the workplace in large numbers, many for the first time, releasing men to go to war.  Some worked in occupations never previously done by women on the railways, in shipyards, munitions’ factories.  After the war – when the men returned – some left their employment but many remained in work. One such work opportunity – the decennial Census.

Continue reading “WW1 and the Census”

2021 – an online census

Scotlands Census 2021 - Communications - Scotlands Census logo 2021 - English.JPGDid you know the Registrar General for Scotland is responsible for conducting the census in Scotland and has been since 1861?* And did you know the next census is due to take place in 2021?

The role of Registrar General for Scotland sits with the Chief Executive of National Records of Scotland (NRS) and as an organisation we’re tasked with making sure the next census is a success. Planning for Scotland’s Census 2021 is now well underway and it will be designed and managed in Scotland to best meet the needs of all its users, whilst securing and protecting the personal information of all.

For the first time, the 2021 Census will be conducted primarily online. Although we were first able to complete our census questionnaires online in 2011 – and around 20% of respondents did so – we will be encouraging as many people as possible do so in 2021, if they can. This will improve the quality of the data we collect, and enable us to publish census statistics more quickly. For example, the online system will help ensure people respond consistently across the form and it will help reduce some of the issues we face relating to some people’s written responses . That said, we recognise there will still be some hand-writing involved as paper questionnaires will still be available where needed.

It will also of course reduce the environmental impact of the census. In 2011 we took great care in making sure the environmental impact of the census was kept to a minimum. Printed products were, where practical, produced using recycled or recyclable materials, but we still issued some 2.6 million (28 page) household questionnaires. In 2021 however, a national publicity campaign will encourage online completion. Whilst paper questionnaires will still be available where needed, we are clear there will be a significant reduction in the volumes needed.

As ever, there will be challenges, for example, not everyone will be able or want to respond online. So we are researching how we can support and encourage participation with all our partners, notably across the public sector. This in line with our desire to understand the needs of all involved:– those completing their census returns, those supporting and working with us on the operation as well as, importantly, the needs of those who use the valuable statistics provided by the census.

We will provide more information about work in these areas and all our plans for 2021 on Open Book in the months and years ahead. However, do also feel free to sign-up to the Scotland’s Census newsletter to stay updated.

Amy Wilson, Head of Scotland’s Census

*the first 10 yearly census took place in 1801 but became the responsibility of The Registrar General for Scotland from 1861