2 The 2001 Census in London|
- As a national exercise, the 2001 Census was deemed broadly successful.
- Estimated rates of non-participation in the 2001 Census were disproportionately high in London. The average response rate across all London boroughs was 85%, compared with 94% nationwide. In Inner London boroughs the estimated response rate was 78%.
- Several London boroughs have told us that they considered the 2001 Census to have undercounted the population in several categories considered hard-to-count, in particular among ethnic minority groups.
- There is evidence that the methods used to ensure an accurate count in 2001 were not equal to the challenges faced in some inner-city areas. A substantial number of these areas were in London boroughs.
- The ONS acknowledges that London has "pretty much the full set of challenges" for preparation of an accurate address register for the 2011 Census.
Issues arising from the conduct of the 2001
20. The Statistics Commission, the body which monitored the arrangements
made for the 2001 Census, concluded in its report on the 2001
Census in Westminster that "the 2001 Census was, in most
respects and on the evidence available, a success. It produced
robust local estimates across most of the UK. But for a relatively
small number of areas, particularly some inner city ones, there
is now evidence that the methods used were not equal to the challenges
21. It is acknowledged that several of the areas
identified by the Statistics Commission were in London boroughs.
The City of Westminster and the London Boroughs of Southwark and
Wandsworth challenged the outputs from the 2001 Census and eventually
secured an official revision to the figures reported in each borough.
Other boroughs argued successfully that their populations had
been underestimated and secured additional funding for borough
services as a result.
22. Though he acknowledged shortcomings in some local
authority areas in his evidence to us, Glen Watson, ONS Census
Director, argued that the 2001 Census nationally had been broadly
"Most people considered the Census in 2001
to be a success. We counted 49 million people and coverage-adjustedthrough
the Census Coverage Surveyanother
3 million people [
] It was in the series of challenges that
followed that we adjusted the population of 52 million upwards
by 0.3 million. So that was very important for some local authoritiesmost
notably for Manchester and Westminsterbut
for the vast majority [of local authorities] the results stood,
and they still stand, and for a few more the results were adjusted
by relatively small amounts. I do not want to play down the significance
of the problems experienced in parts of London, in particular
Westminster, but I want that context to be understood."
23. While we acknowledge the overall success of
the 2001 Census exercise in counting the population of England
and Wales, it is important not to lose sight of the serious and
acknowledged issues which arose in counting the population in
London. We recommend that particular issues with a potentially
serious effect on the accuracy of the 2011 Census in London are
UNDER-ENUMERATION IN LONDON BOROUGHS
24. The ONS, in its evidence to us, acknowledged
that the most significant likely source of error in the 2001 Census
in England and Wales was non-response or under-enumeration. In
2001, ONS estimates that 6% of the population did not respond
to the Census. Although only a small non-response rate when compared
with national government surveys, this non-response rate to a
compulsory survey was greater than in 1991, when 4% of the population
did not respond.
25. The estimated rates of response in London were
disproportionately low as a result of the particular challenges
facing the Census in London, which we discuss further below. As
a result of this acknowledged low response rate in London, which
was a contributory factor in significant undercounting, 2001 was
the first Census after which data from a census coverage survey
was used to adjust the final results to take account of under-coverage.
26. The ONS told us that the response rate to the
2001 Census was significantly lower in Greater London than in
the rest of the country. The average response rate across the
whole of London was 85%, compared with 94% nationwide.
This was even lower in certain boroughs, especially in the inner
city, the lowest of all being Kensington and Chelsea, where the
2001 Census response rate was around just 65%.
Several other inner London boroughs also told us that they had
significantly lower Census response rates in 2001 than the national
normWestminster had a 74% response rate, and Hackney 72%.
POPULATIONS COUNTED AND NOT COUNTED
BY THE CENSUS
27. The Census seeks to count all of those who are
"ordinarily resident" on Census night. In 2001, it did
not count short-term migrants (that is, people who move to a country
other than that of their usual residence for a period of at least
three months but less than twelve months). Several of the London
boroughs which submitted evidence to us suggested that one of
the flaws of the 2001 Census from their perspective was that it
did not count their numbers of short-term migrants.
London is a traditional entry point for the majority of new migrants
arriving in England and Wales, and its boroughs have disproportionately
higher numbers of short-term migrants than other parts of the
country. London also experiences significant short-term population
churn through internal migration.
28. Several of the London boroughs told us that
they considered the 2001 Census to have undercounted some of their
harder-to-reach ethnic minority groups. Evidence supplied by Lambeth,
for instance, suggested that the second most important factor
associated with a higher Census non-response in 2001 was whether
households consisted of occupants who were of the Black, Asian,
Chinese or Mixed ethnic groups.
Witnesses also expressed concern that the 2001 Census had suffered
from a low response rate in London boroughs because of the inability
of enumerators to access all addresses.
29. The unique make up of London's population makes
it particularly difficult to enumerate in a Census. London has
a high concentration of those in hard-to-count categories. In
evidence to the Committee, the ESRC's Census Study Programme stated
that "London presents instances of extreme enumeration challenges."
Census Director Glen Watson acknowledged that "London has
pretty much the full set of challenges" for preparing an
accurate list of residential addresses for use in the Census.
30. One recent assessment of hard-to-count categories
in the Census lists the following groups as particularly difficult
to reach via the Census:
- renting privately;
- where the occupants are of Black, Asian, Chinese
or Mixed ethnic groups;
- paying part rent/part mortgage;
- containing a single person;
- where the average age of the people within the
household is between 23 and 29 and 29 and 34;
- where the average age of the people within the
household is 70 or over;
- renting from housing associations or the council;
- where more than two thirds of occupants had a
different address one year earlier;
- living in commercial buildings;
- in an area with a higher Index of Multiple Deprivation
- where the average age of the people within the
household is between 60 and 69;
- living in accommodation that is not self-contained;
- living in a converted or shared house;
- where the average age of the people within the
household is under 23;
- containing a single parent family; and
- where more than two thirds of occupants aged
between 18 and 29 are students.
CONSEQUENCES FOR LONDON BOROUGHS
OF 2001 CENSUS OUTPUTS
- There have often been substantial discrepancies between the official population estimates derived from the 2001 Census baseline produced for London boroughs and boroughs' own estimates of their resident populations.
- Boroughs argue that this lack of precision about the size of their resident populations has had a substantial effect on their ability to plan and provide resources for the public services they are required to deliver.
- Evidence suggests that ONS estimates have failed to take into account a temporaryand therefore largely uncountedpopulation.
Mid-year population estimates
31. The Committee heard that one of the consequences of the 2001
Census's inability to fully record numbers of short-term migrants
and ethnic minorities has been a substantial discrepancy between
the official population estimates produced for London boroughs,
derived from the 2001 Census baseline, and boroughs' own estimates
of their actual resident populations drawn from a variety of other
valid sources of administrative data.
32. Evidence submitted by the London Borough of by
Southwark, for example, suggested that ONS estimates had failed
to take into account a temporaryand therefore largely uncountedpopulation
of some 21,000 residents, an estimate made by a comparison of
ONS estimates and the number of people known to be registered
with GPs in the borough.
Colin Barrow, Leader of Westminster City Council, suggested that
his borough probably had at least 10,000 residents who had not
been not counted because they were short-term residents.
Sir Robin Wales, the elected Mayor of Newham, told us that his
research commissioned by his borough suggested that around 20,000
people were uncounted in Newham.
33. Professor David Martin, Chair of the Census Study
Group, told us that one source of data for preparation of the
mid-year estimates was the International Passenger Survey.
This records the movement of people into the country, but does
not provide information about movements around the country or
subsequent departures from the country, and cannot therefore be
relied upon for an accurate portrayal of population.
34. The relationship between mid-year estimates and
Census outputs highlights the need for both sets of figures to
be reliable. This issue is in part exacerbated by what Keith Dugmore
of the Demographic User Group termed the 'inter-censal drift',
that is, the accumulated error in population estimates over the
period since the last census. Whilst the outdating of statistics
cannot be easily remedied, the fact that mid-year estimates are
rebased according to Census figures means it is crucial to have
an accurate Census in order to validate subsequent figures.
35. Boroughs argue that this lack of precision about
the size of their resident populations has had a substantial effect
upon their ability to plan and provide resources for the public
services they are required to deliver, which include education,
waste, transport and housing. Local authorities such as Hackney,
as well as the Greater London Authority and the Government Office
of London, use population estimates to plan capital investment
for public services in the short, medium and long term.
36. While there is no evidence to suggest that minority
communities disproportionately use public services, their use
of these services introduces a further degree of complexity to
the considerations of local authorities planning them. Most notably,
their use of services can often mean that information about them
has to be supplied in a range of different languages. In Southwark
alone, over 100 languages are spoken to the local authority's
customer service centre, and 125 languages are catered for in
primary schools in Hammersmith and Fulham.
37. It is also important to note the effect on borough
populations of short-term migrants to London from within the UK,
who are equally difficult to count in official statistics but
who also consume London borough services.
Effects on funding and service provision
38. Many of the London boroughs who provided evidence
to the Committee considered that their populations had been undercounted
at the 2001 Census. Several London boroughs had their population
estimates reviewed following claims of under-enumeration in 2001.
While only three (Westminster, Wandsworth and Southwark) had changes
made to their population estimates as a result, other boroughs
such as Islington have received some additional funding in recognition
of discrepancies between mid-year estimates and actual population.
39. The London Borough of Hounslow has estimated
that it had lost around £4.5 million between 2005 and 2008
as a result of the use of inaccurate ONS population data by the
Department for Communities and Local Government.
This is one example of the numerous estimates of underfunding
submitted to us in evidence by individual London boroughs: there
is no official estimate of the total sums in grant which local
authorities in the capital may have foregone through the application
of undercounted population figures to grant formulae.
40. The London Borough of Newham considers that,
as a result of the undercount it estimates in the 2001 Census,
the Borough has subsequently not received, after damping, £5.8
million of Formula Grant which it believes it ought to have received
by virtue of the size of its population. Sir Robin Wales told
us that "because all [Newham's] resources are based on that
figure and then the mid-year estimates, we have had a decade of
underfunding based on that poor Census data."
41. Hackney and Newham consider the situation so
serious that they do not now rely on data from ONS for planning
"Hackney Council no longer has sufficient
confidence in the ONS population statistics to rely on them for
most areas of our work, although we are required to use them for
Newham, Hackney and Ealing now choose to use locally-held
data sources such as GP registers, school registers and requests
for National Insurance numbers to estimate their populations.
42. At least three London boroughs have engaged independent
consultants to carry out population counts based on administrative
data sources, for the purposes of comparison against ONS mid-year
estimates. Brent, Hackney and Newham have all independently engaged
Mayhew Associates to conduct studies of their populations in order
to provide an accurate population count. The studieswhich
may include some short-term migrants not included in mid-year
population estimatesfound that Hackney's population had
been undercounted by 13,515 in the 2007 mid-year estimate and
Newham's by 20,500 in the same period.
43. Dissatisfaction with the accuracy of the outputs
from 2001 in London is persistent. The High Ethnicity Authorities
Special Interest Group (HEASIG), on which many London boroughs
are represented, believe that the Department for Communities and
Local Government should acknowledge the imprecise nature of the
population data used in allocating funding and that those boroughs
who can provide evidence of this should receive additional funding
as a result.
44. The representatives of London boroughs who gave
evidence to us on 8 February were all critical of the perceived
deficiencies of present population estimates based on the 2001
Census and equally critical of their use by the Department for
Communities and Local Government for calculating local authority
grant allocations. Colin Barrow told us that approaches to Ministers
on the issue had had no effect, even though it was widely acknowledged
that more accurate information from administrative data was available.
Sir Robin Wales characterised the position thus:
"The ONS knows it is nonsense, so it says,
"Don't use these figures." DCLG knows it is nonsense,
but says, 'We have to use these figures, because they're all we've
45. We are concerned to note the lack of confidence
some London boroughs have in the official mid-year population
estimates derived from the 2001 Census, both as a means of planning
for services and as a basis for funding distribution. It is of
substantial concern to us that some boroughs have had to commission
their own population estimates based on administrative data sources
for the purposes of planning service provision.
46. The Government is not at present convinced of
the value of using administrative data for such purposes. While
some London boroughs have indicated that GP registrations would
be a valid source of population data to be included in the process
for calculating mid-year population estimates, the Cabinet Office
"Just on GP registrations, for example,
one of the problems with those databases is that people register
with a GP when they move to an area or not. It might be a number
of months, even years, before they decide to go and register,
because often people might not go to see a doctor until they are
ill. So there are associated problems with databases held by London
boroughs as well. I think it is a question of understanding those."
The Government Office for London claimed not to be
aware of the significant concerns raised by boroughs on the accuracy
of mid-year estimates based on the 2001 Census, though they were
well aware of concerns raised by boroughsand London Councilsin
respect of the changes to the mid-year estimates which had been
made as a result of changes to the methodology related to migration
Hayes, Director of the Government Office, told us that "I
am not aware of any specific issues that [the boroughs] have with
recent mid-year population estimates that have updated [the 2001
Census], apart from concerns about the extent to which factors
such as migration are taken into account
13 Statistics Commission, Report No. 22, Census
and population estimates and The 2001 Census in Westminster: Final
Ev 93 [Royal Statistical Society] Back
Ev 68 [Islington Council] Back
Q 125 Back
Ev 57 [Office for National Statistics] Back
Q 132 Back
Q 133 Back
Q 113 Back
Q 60 Back
Ev 62 [London Borough of Lambeth] Back
Ev 103 [ESRC Census Programme] Back
Q 147 Back
Nargis Rahman and Shayla Goldring, Modelling Census Household
Non-response, Office for National Statistics, 2007, cited
by the London Borough of Lambeth at Ev 61-62. Back
Q 73 Back
Q 61 Back
Q 56 Back
Q 22 Back
Q 20 Back
Ev 78 [London Borough of Hackney] Back
Q 93; Ev 71 [London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham] Back
Ev 56 [Office for National Statistics] Back
Ev 143 [London Borough of Hounslow] Back
Q 56 Back
Ev 79 [London Borough of Hackney] Back
Ev 91 [Local Government Association's High Ethnicity Authorities'
Special Interest Group] Back
Q 66 Back
Q 65 Back
Q 202 Back
Ev 74 [London Councils] Back
Q 201 Back