'Unnecessary' - Family's anger after £1,000 census fine threats

The 2011 Census form. Picture SIMON FINLAY

The 2011 Census form. Picture SIMON FINLAY - Credit: Archant

A Norwich resident has branded the census as "disorganised and insensitive" after being threatened with £1,000 fines - despite returning theirs a week earlier. 

John Marais said he and two other family members have all been threatened with the fines, despite having returned their censuses a week earlier.  

Mr Marais said the letter had upset him and his wife but was particularly concerned about house visits to the elderly and vulnerable during a pandemic.  

“I posted my Mother-in-Law's census form on March 16,” he said.  

“On March 25 she was visited by a census official who claimed she'd not submitted her census.   

“She is 87, severely disabled, housebound, and was very distressed by this accusation, knowing very well her form had been posted by me.   

“Unnecessary, uncalled for visits to the vulnerable and elderly during a pandemic are outrageous.”  

Norwich Castle lit up in purple to mark Census 2021

Norwich Castle lit up in purple to mark Census 2021 - Credit: Kerry Skelding

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Mr Marais added he had another Norwich relative whose partner has also been threatened and said the contractors of being too quick with accusations and threats.  

“They should be communicating with Royal Mail first, before intimidating people in this way,” he said.  

“It seems apparent that so far the operation of the census is disorganised and insensitive.”  

Another Norwich resident, who asked not to be named, said he had someone bang on his door at 8pm, which he considered to be “surprisingly late”.  

A spokesman for the Office of National Statistics (ONS) said they started carrying out household calls on last Tuesday, following the census weekend.  

“We are only visiting households that our systems show have not responded. In the case of paper returns, these can take a few days to process.   

“Field staff operate Monday to Saturday: 9am to 8pm; Sundays: 10am to 4pm.”  

The spokesman said they were not trying to intimidate the public, but give help and encouragement, and staff will always carry ID, wear PPE in line with government guidance and never enter people’s houses.  

“The census informs the provision of public services like GP surgeries, school places and hospital beds on which we all rely,” the spokesman added.  

“We have had a great response to Census 2021 so far but everyone needs to respond as soon as possible.   

“If people have submitted their census form in the last week they can inform any field officers who may knock on their door that they have done so.   

“They can also ignore any reminder letters they receive from the ONS.” 

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