The 2011 Census is pointless, out of date and wasteful – and that’s just what the government says about it.
A Census form has just landed on my doormat. Should I fill it in? Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said last year there were alternatives to the census that could provide “better, quicker information more frequently and cheaper.” The 2011 Census will cost around £500m. Eric Pickles MP reported how councils had been short-changed of government funding from use of out of date information from the 2001 census. Yet it makes sense that the government should know who and what we all are, right?
Please help me answer the following questions about the Census:
1. Is the Census is essential for government and business planning, or effectively useless because it is expensive, inaccurate, and quickly out of date?
2. Is our Census data is trusted and respected worldwide, or do other countries have just as good, and more cost effective ways of at knowing about their citizens?
3. Is Census data still a great source for genealogy, or is wrong to assume that in 100 years time we’ll need census data to know about our ancestors?
4. Is it good for employment to run a census, or are the jobs it creates temporary?
5. Is census data really confidential for 100 years, and is it a concer that the information you provide will be shared with lots of other organisations, including EU member states, public bodies, and approved researchers?
6. Is census information high quality, or is there evidence that many people lie in their return? Some say that the 2001 census ‘missed’ 900,000 men under 40.
7. Should we be proud of playing their part in the census, or proud of the long history of public resentment of and resistance to the census? In the 1800s census officers had to be given police protection; in 1911 the suffragettes boycotted it in protest; and in the 50s TV publicity told people it wasn’t “just another bit of snooping”.
8. Can small and growing communities use census statistics to help gain recognition, or is that a political decision – after all, 390,127 people recorded their religion as Jedi in 2001, and they have yet to be officially recognised. And does the census underestimate British Jews, precisely because some of that community are nervous of officials knowing where they live?
9. Is completing the census easy, quick and safe, or do new questions intrude more than ever (new required data: details of employer’s addresses, details of visitors to your house, and where they usually live)?
10. Is our personal information protected, or with thousands of people involved, and large commercial contractors and government agencies processing data, should we worry about data security?