North Norfolk to be sent paper copies of Census 2021 despite digital focus

Paul Walmsley, census engagement manager for Kings Lynn and West Norfolk, Breckland and North Norfolk

Paul Walmsley, census engagement manager for Kings Lynn and West Norfolk, Breckland and North Norfolk - Credit: Office for National Statistics

An older population and poor digital coverage mean large parts of north Norfolk will automatically receive paper copies of this year's census, despite the questionnaire being digital-first.

This March will see everyone in England and Wales legally required to take part in the 2021 census.

Carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the questionnaire provides a unique and detailed snapshot of society in England and Wales.

The once-in-a-decade survey provides data which helps inform services such as education, transport and healthcare and helps charities access funding. It can also help future generations research their genealogy.

This year, for the first time in its 220-year history, the census will be digital-first, meaning the majority of people will be able to fill the form out online.

But large parts of north Norfolk, which has a larger older population than the national average, will be automatically posted paper copies of the census to enable everyone to fill out the questionnaire.

Wells Beach. PHOTO; Matthew Usher.

Wells Beach. PHOTO; Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

The census will also be available in a number of different languages and accessible formats including braille.

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Paul Walmsley, census engagement manager for Kings Lynn and West Norfolk, Breckland and North Norfolk, said work had been done to establish areas of the district with poor digital coverage and engagement.

He said: "Quite a number of areas in north Norfolk will actually get a paper questionnaire. In the 2011 census, 25pc of respondents responded online and 75pc in paper, this time we're expecting that to flip.

"So, while we're calling it digital-first, there's still a significant number, 25pc, we expect will be paper and we will support people to do it."

Mr Walmsley said the ONS had also increased telephone capacity to deal with people needing help to fill out the census by 400pc. And, those who did not automatically receive a paper copy of the census would be able to request one.

As well as being digital-first, this year's census will also include questions on sexuality and gender identity and whether they have served in the armed forces.

For more information on the 2021 census visit https://census.gov.uk