18 interesting Suffolk statistics ahead of the 2021 census

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For the first time, the census will take place primarily online - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

While many of this year’s events have already been cancelled due to the pandemic, one event is still firmly on the calendar and is due to take place later this month.  

The 2021 census is being conducted on Sunday March 21, with millions of people across England and Wales expected to come together to fill in their details for the 24th edition of the pivotal survey.   

The census, which aims to paint a clearer picture of the nation’s residents, has taken place every 10 years since 1801 – with the exception of 1941 due to the Second World War.  

As the decades go on, new questions are added due to the changing face of society, with this year’s census including a new question on veterans of the UK Armed Forces, as well as voluntary questions for those aged 16 and above in regards to sexual orientation and gender identity.  

Ahead of this month’s data collection, two people will be on hand to help the people of Suffolk with any census-related queries they may have in the upcoming weeks. 


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Tim Buttle and Louise Carsen are the census engagement managers for this county, and work to help organisations, charities, faith groups and community leaders within their respective districts raise awareness of the survey.  

Tim, who is the census engagement manager for East Suffolk, has lived in the county for 25 years. He explains why he’s working on this year’s census.  

Tim Buttle, census engagement manager for East Suffolk

Tim Buttle, census engagement manager for East Suffolk - Credit: Tim Buttle

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"When the opportunity came up to work on Census 2021, I couldn't wait to get involved. I’ve always been fascinated by facts and figures. I traced my family tree back to the early 1800s using census records, and I believe it’s important to know where your roots are. My ancestors were originally from Lyng in Norfolk and moved to the North East during the industrial revolution, and I wouldn't have known this were it not for information collected in the census.”  

As well as helping people better understand their heritage, the information from the census helps decide how services are planned and funded across each region. Ultimately, the census ensures funds are invested accordingly in emergency services, health care, school places and other vital services. 

Tim, who has spent most of his career working in financial services, also volunteered during the first lockdown and helped elderly people across the community with their shopping. It was this experience that helped him realise how important local services, and therefore the census, truly are.  

"Helping people during the first lockdown gave me a greater appreciation of how many people rely on local services. It’s so important they are allocated appropriate funding so they can deliver what is needed. I see my role as making sure that everyone is given the opportunity to be counted so effective decisions can be made about where to spend money and allocate resources. I'm really focusing in on the harder to reach communities across Suffolk, and I want them to be fully represented in decision making.” 

For the first time this year, the census will run primarily online, making it easy for most people to complete the questionnaire on any device – whether that be a computer, a mobile phone or a tablet. Local census support centres will also be offering help, while paper questionnaires will still be available for those who need them.  

But with all that’s gone on in the past year, what is Tim expecting to see as a result of this year’s census?  

“The 2021 census is coming at a critical point. It will be fundamental to our understanding of the impact the coronavirus has had on different communities and how we all live,” he explains. 

“Information from the 2011 census has already been crucial in our understanding of mortality for different groups during the pandemic, for example, to understand deaths by ethnicity, religion and disability status, and is the only source of local-level information on occupation and household composition. With fresh data from this year, we will be able to update the analysis we have already done, and use it alongside new data sources to give us the richest data we have ever had.” 

However, due to a 100-year closure rule that was established after the 1911 census, 2021’s full census data won’t be made public until 2121. Certain details of trends and top line data information from this year’s census will however emerge in 12 months’ time. 

For anyone who loves history and statistics as much as Tim does, be sure to keep an eye out in January 2022, as that is when the data from the 1921 census will be released in full.  

In the meantime, here’s 18 Suffolk facts and figures from the 2011 census that have been made publicly available.  

  • The population of Suffolk was 728,163, consisting of 359,787 males (49%) and 368,376 females (51%). 
  • Of the 595,261 residents over 16, 306,031 were married (51%). 
  • There were 328,165 households in Suffolk. 310,745 (95%) had a least one usual resident. 
  • 95% of people's ethnicity was listed as white. The next largest group was Mixed (1.7%). 
  • 92% of Suffolk respondents were born in the UK or Ireland, 3% in the rest of the EU, and 5% in the rest of the world. 
  • 536,771 Suffolk residents held a UK passport (74%), and 153,812 (21%) held no passport. 
  • Of all the 310,745 occupied household in Suffolk, 96% have English as a first language. 
  • Of the 63% who stated their religion, 61% were Christians, and 30% had no religion 
  • 18% of Suffolk residents responded that they had a physical or mental condition that impacted on their day-to-day activities. 
  • 82% of census respondents were in good or very good health, 13% were fair and 5% were in bad or very bad health. 
  • Of all the properties in Suffolk, 35% were detached, 31% semi-detached, 22% terraced, 11.5% flats and 0.5% caravans. 
  • Of all of the properties in Suffolk, 67% were owned, 15% are socially rented, and 16% are privately rented. 
  • 98% of homes in Suffolk had central heating. 
  • 11% of people provided unpaid care to someone. 
  • 18% had no cars in their household. 
  • 29% of households had just one person living there. 14% of these were over 65. 
  • 34% of households had no adult in paid employment. 
  • 71% of adults aged between 16-74 were economically active. 

For more information about the upcoming census, visit www.census.gov.uk 

To reach your local census engagement manager or community adviser, contact either Tim for East Suffolk at timothy.buttle84@field.census.gov.uk, or Louise at louise.carsen20@field.census.gov.uk for West Suffolk. 

Are there any facts or figures from the 2011 census that surprised you? Or what do you think the 2021 census will reveal? Share your thoughts and opinions with danielle.lett@archant.co.uk 

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