Select Committee on Treasury Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 11

Further supplementary memorandum by the Office for National Statistics[4]

REASONS FOR REFUSING TO COMPLETE OR RETURN A CENSUS FORM, AND THE EFFECTS LOW RESPONSE RATES WOULD HAVE ON CENSUS OUTPUTS

The Census Helpline

  We understand that over 2.6 million calls were received on the helpline when it was operational between 1 April and 30 June 2001. Can you provide an analysis showing the number of calls received each week? Presumably the vast number of calls were received at the end of April and early in May?

2001 Census Helpline—number of calls received per week England & Wales (1 April to 30 June 2001)
Week BeginningCalls to Helpline
1 April4,675
9 April110,562
16 April329,650
23 April1,146,525
30 April446,003
7 May117,354
14 May230,888
21 May137,893
28 May65,540
4 June23,614
11 June9,519
18 June4,569
25 June2,663
Total2,629,455


The Response Rate

  The Sub-committee would welcome any information you have on the reasons for refusing to complete or return a Census form, and the effects low response rates would have on Census outputs.

  ONS estimates that 98 per cent of the expected number of households returned a form. In the vast majority of cases, no information is available on the reasons for non-response. Reliable information is only available for those people prosecuted for refusing to complete a form—these are mainly people refusing as a matter of principle. But for the reasons given by Len Cook and John Pullinger in their oral evidence to the Committee these represent only a very small fraction of the total non-response.

  The Census Coverage Survey was designed to measure the proportion of non-responding households and people by geographical area. This survey was deliberately designed to be much larger than in previous Censuses in order to properly estimate differential underenumeration and so enable reliable population estimates by area to be produced. The One Number Census programme was set up to use these results to adjust the output from the Census for underenumeration. With the adoption of this improved statistical system, the effects of underenumeration on Census output are minimised and the output will be far more consistent than previously.

30 January 2002


4   Memorandum supplements oral evidence given by the National Statistician on Wednesday 24 October 2001. See p. Ev 16. Back


 
previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 6 March 2002