ONS Census Online Support Service

Good Things Foundation is delivering a contract for ONS as part of the online first census, which will take place in 2021. In the run-up to this, we are supporting with the census rehearsal, which is taking place in Carlisle, Ceredigion, Tower Hamlets and Hackney from 25th September to 17th November 2019.  

The United Kingdom census is a ten yearly compulsory count of the population and housing. The information collected from the Census helps inform vital public services such as the number of children’s school places, hospital and GP services and social care provision in local areas. As the largest independent producer of official statistics and the recognised national statistical institute of the UK, The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is responsible for carrying out this work in England and Wales.

A full census has taken place in England and Wales every ten years since 1801, with the exception of 1941, and the next one is planned to take place in March 2021.

In 2021, the Census will be ‘digital first’ and accessible through an online platform – this will work on PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Paper questionnaires will be available for those unable or unwilling to complete online.

In order to test online systems, and ensure the right support is available for people, a census rehearsal will take place in Autumn 2019. The rehearsal will take place in four areas of England and Wales, to provide a small scale test of the systems and processes that will be put in place for 2021.

Good Things Foundation is delivering a contract for ONS to provide support to people who lack either the skills or access to complete the census online. We’ve been working with them since April to get the support model in place for the rehearsal period, which runs from 25th September to 17th November 2019.

The below resources are specifically for Online Centres taking part in the census rehearsal.

Service handbook:

What is Census Online Support:

The customer journey:

What do you need to have in place:

Service levels / confidentiality / complaints:

Printable appointment checklist:

Service definitions:


Engagement Pack: