Methodological Assurance Review panel – Census


In March 2014, the National Statistician recommended that the census in 2021 should be predominantly online, making increased use of administrative data and surveys to enhance the statistics from the 2021 Census. This recommendation was endorsed by the Government’s formal response, which also set out its ambition that “censuses after 2021 will be conducted using other sources of data and providing more timely statistical information. However, any final decision on moving to the use only of administrative data beyond 2021 will be dependent on the dual running sufficiently validating the perceived feasibility of that approach.”

Following the National Statistician’s recommendation and the Government’s response, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) established a programme in January 2015 to take forward three high level deliverables:

  • A predominantly online census of all households and communal establishments in England and Wales,
  • Development of alternative administrative data census estimates, to be compared to the 2021 Census,
  • User focused, improved and expanded population statistics through increased use of administrative data and surveys.

A review panel has been set up to undertake a review of methods and research associated with the programme’s deliverables. The review will provide assurance to the National Statistician that:

  • The statistics resulting from the 2021 Census will meet the code of practice for official statistics and therefore can be badged as National Statistics,
  • The online census is methodologically robust,
  • The evidence to show whether or not an Administrative Data Census approach to census-taking is valid and enables the Government to make a decision after 2021 about the future of the census.

These reviews are planned to take place between 2018 and 2023.

 Purpose of the Panel

The purpose of the review panel is to:

  • Provide external, independent assurance and guidance on the statistical methodology underpinning 2021 census estimates and those based on administrative sources,
  • Identify significant gaps and risks in methods and make suggestions for mitigation,
  • Review admin data methods and contribute to their continuous improvement.

Panel membership

The panel will be chaired by Sir Bernard Silverman.

Other confirmed panel members:

  • Oliver Duke-Williams
  • Nik Lomax
  • Natalie Shlomo
  • David Martin