Is South Somerset ready for a test?

In preparation for the 2021 Census, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) will be carrying out a census test in South Somerset this year.

South Somerset District Council is one of seven local authorities across England and Wales chosen to take part in the test on 9 April 2017. ONS will send randomly-selected households in South Somerset a letter three weeks before the test with a unique access code, asking them to fill in their online questionnaire.

It's crucial ONS tests key elements to make sure everything will work as it should on census day. The 2021 Census will be mainly online, so ONS needs to ensure systems are working correctly. ONS will also be testing new questions - including one on sexual identity - to find out whether they affect people's responses.

Rural South Somerset has been selected as a test area as it has a number of communal establishments like hotels and bed and breakfasts, as well as lots of second homes - both traditionally difficult to record in a census.

In terms of population, South Somerset has a number of residents over the age of 65, while it also has a lower reliable outdoor mobile coverage, so it will be important for ONS to test its systems ahead of an online census in 2021.

"The census is important to all of us, as it is used to help plan and fund a range of services for communities such as transport, education and health," Acting Census Director Ben Humberstone said.

"This is a great chance for us to test out our plans for the 2021 Census - including questions, systems and services. We can then learn and make improvements before census day. By filling in your online questionnaire you are helping to shape the 2021 Census and therefore the future of both your local area and our country."

Therefore when the time comes, just answer a few questions about yourself and the people in your household on test day, 9 April 2017. It should only take about 10 minutes of your time.

Whatever you tell the census test will be in strictest confidence and will only be used by ONS to assess questions and systems ahead of 2021.

Census officers will be working in the area in April and May to offer households help and encourage them to fill in the questionnaire.

How the test will work

ONS will send a letter to randomly-selected households in South Somerset 3 weeks before the test. It'll contain a unique access code that will allow them to fill in their questionnaire online.

Why the test matters to you

It's crucial ONS tests key elements to make sure everything will work as it should on census day. By taking part in the test, you'll help make this happen.

The 2021 Census will be mainly online, so ONS needs to ensure systems are working as they should.

ONS will also be testing new questions - including one on sexual identity - to find out whether they affect people's responses.

Why ONS has chosen South Somerset

Rural South Somerset has been selected as a test area as it has a number of communal establishments like hotels and bed and breakfasts, as well as lots of second homes - both traditionally difficult to record in a census.

In terms of population, South Somerset has a number of residents over the age of 65, while it also has a lower reliable outdoor mobile coverage, so it will be important for ONS to test its systems ahead of an online census in 2021.

What you need to do

Simple. When the time comes, just answer a few questions about yourself and the people in your household on test day, 9 April 2017. It should only take about 10 minutes of your time.

Whatever you tell the census test will be in strictest confidence. Your information will only be used by ONS to assess questions and systems ahead of 2021.

If you need help

You may see census officers during April and May to offer help and encourage residents who haven't responded to take part in the test.

For more information visit www.ons.gov.uk/census