Tell the census you’re a carer

Census day is 21 March. You will receive a letter with instructions on how to complete the census.

Those who can, should fill out the census online and your letter will include a household access code. Or you can request a paper copy on the website. If you do not receive a letter, or need help filling out your census, contact 0800 141 2021.

The census takes place at regular intervals, currently every 10 years, since 1801. The forerunner of this was the Doomsday Book in 1086. The data collected by the Office for National Statistics is used to inform national and local policy on education, social care, housing, transport and much more. Like many other charities, Carers Support Centre also uses the data to support funding applications and influence service providers when it comes to investment in support for carers.

This is why the census is so important. It’s an opportunity for you to say you have caring responsibilities. The census has 1 question about caring, which asks you to tick a box indicating how many hours a week you spend caring. There are 5 options, from ‘9 hours a week or less’ to ‘50 or more hours a week’. The unpaid care question was first introduced in the 2001 Census and was included again in 2011, enabling users to look at the increases in the carer population.

The inclusion of this question has been hard fought for. In the run up to the 2011 census, the question about caring came under threat. Carers UK ran a campaign called Keep Counting Carers, which involved the support of carers, politicians, academics and researchers. Fortunately, money was made available to keep the census question on caring.

When you fill in the census, it’s really important that you take this opportunity to tell the census how much care you are providing. Imagine if you weren’t there to help the person you care for. How many hours would a care-worker need to spend doing practical tasks, giving personal care and emotional support? This should give you an idea of how many hours you spend caring per week.

The census provides the best opportunity to get hard evidence to influence policy and services at a strategic level. So tell the census you’re a carer.

This article first appeared in Carers News Spring 2021. To download a copy, or read past issues, click here.