The Office for National Statistics launched a public consultation on 17 October 2011 for its ‘Beyond 2011’ programme, which is to examine options for producing detailed information about small areas and neighbourhoods that has traditionally been a core output from the decennial population census.
It is said that the programme ‘will consider a range of alternative methods, including established census methods or reusing information that has already been collected from the public. A system that makes use of data already collected may deliver a more cost-effective way of providing more frequent statistics, with reduced public burden.’
The public consultation, which is the first stage of a four-step process, will run until 20 January 2012. Responses can be submitted online, by email or by post. The consultation extends to England and Wales only, since there are parallel exercises for Scotland and Northern Ireland. The document is available at:
The consultation questionnaire covers three main areas:
- What are users’ current requirements for data, and how are these requirements likely to change? How will they be impacted if the data were not to be collected by Government?
- What alternative data sources might be able to provide the required information?
- How should Government balance the potentially conflicting priorities of frequency, accuracy and geography in data collection?
Religion is expressly listed as a data topic, and there is thus an opportunity to answer each of the sections of the questionnaire with religion in mind. Hopefully, BRIN users will wish to respond. A consultation on the content of the 2011 census, which ran between May and August 2005, identified data on religion as a high user requirement.
The second stage of the ‘Beyond 2011’ process (February 2012 to mid-2013) will research and assess all available options, to see which best meets the needs identified. The third stage will be a further public consultation in summer 2013, focusing on possible solutions. The final stage (mid-2013 and early 2014) will develop the final recommendations.
Meanwhile, the initial, high-level outputs from the 2011 census for England and Wales are due for release in July 2012.