This coming Sunday is Census Day, the day when every household should have completed their 2021 Census. Although it might seem like a bit of an inconvenience to complete, it is a very important and useful exercise.
The very first census in the UK can be dated back to 1086, when William the Conqueror commissioned The Doomsday Book – a survey and tax assessment of the country following his invasion in 1066. However, the census we recognise today, being done every 10 years, was first commissioned in 1801. It was brought about due to the need to plan the production of corn to feed the relevant number of men fighting in the Napoleonic Wars.
Although we no longer need to plan our corn production or raise an army these days, the Census is still a vital tool for Government planning and policy decisions, both locally and nationally. The information gathered about how many people work in different occupations and industries informs new jobs and training policies; information on housing and its occupants influences planning and housing policy; and ethnic group data can help to identify the extent and nature of disadvantage in the UK, enabling equal opportunities policies to be evaluated.
It is not just the Government which finds the census information useful – charities, community organisations, and special interest groups also use information gained from the census. They use the data to support funding and grant applications, and to better understand local communities. For example, The Children’s Society used data relating to children with caring responsibilities to help support their report on the impact of these responsibilities on young carers.
On a more individual level, the census allows people to research their family history, giving them important insight into their heritage and family background. You never know, in the future your descendants might be using this year’s data to discover more about you! The census also gives historians and researchers a snapshot of what life was like at a particular point in time over the last 220 years.
The Covid pandemic has made this year’s census particularly important. The Office of National Statistics, who manage the census, has used past census information to understand how the pandemic has affected people in different ways – and this year’s census will ensure that information is as up to date and accurate as possible.
Turning to a different topic, this week I joined South Swindon MP Robert Buckland to encourage schools and colleges in Swindon to apply for the Government’s new £110million Turing Scheme – which will provide young people with the opportunity to study and work around the world.
The Turing Scheme will provide 35,000 global exchanges from this September – a similar level to the number of exchanges which took place under the previous EU Erasmus scheme. Schools, colleges and universities will all be supported with the cost of administering the programme and are encouraged to form partnerships around the world.
Targeting students from disadvantaged backgrounds, the scheme delivers on our promise to level up education. During our participation in the Erasmus programme, the most privileged students were 1.7 times more likely to benefit from studying abroad than their peers. The new scheme is aimed at improving social mobility and ensuring that work abroad is accessible to all students across the country.
Best of luck to any students applying in Swindon!