Should the census continue in the future? Sussex readers have their say

The census has run for hundreds of years, but talks continues as to whether it should be carried on in the future.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 1:13 pm
Updated Friday, 19th March 2021, 1:16 pm
The last census took place in 2011. Getty Images

With this in mind we asked our readers on social media what they thought about the census and whether they would be sad to see it discontinued.

As always there was a broad range of opinion. Many keen genealogists have said it is essential to help complete family trees and learn about the past, while others argue the questions are irrelevant, intrusive, a waste of time and do not give a correct snapshot of society today.

This was particularly the case for some of the newer questions added in this year. These include asking people aged 16 years and over a question on sexual orientation and gender identity and in the household section asking a new question on renewable energy systems.

There was also concern voiced about the move to a 'digital first' census and how it excluded certain sections of society, even though you can apply for a paper version if you prefer.

If you want to learn more about the census you can read more here.Madeleine Gilbart, from Bexhill, wrote: "I find the information on census returns invaluable for family history so I'm sure others do too. Definitely want it to continue."

While West Sussex County Times reader Suzanne Fenn wrote: "It should continue but the questions need better consideration. This year’s questions were invasive but the census is an historical print of the times and should continue."

Steve Greenfield agreed: "It is a valuable tool if you are tracing the history of people and families. It provides a picture of where people were and what they were doing. Not sure if some of the new questions this year are necessary."

Rosemary Simpson shared a similar viewpoint, writing on the Mid Sussex Times Facebook page: "I think the questions are getting too intrusive now. They used be about the number of people living at the address, their ages, sex and occupation. Now they ask about things like any qualifications you might have or what gender you "identify" as. Totally irrelevant."

Arguing for it to be scrapped, Norma Chadwick, Eastbourne, said "There are too many questions which does not have any relevance to how many people will be on 21st," while Tash Jupp agreed, writing: "I for one would be overjoyed to see the back of the census."

Patricia Londal, wrote on the West Sussex County Times page: "The census is now something of a joke with people making up alternative religions and being sparing with the truth. It has had its day!"

Alan Prince felt it should run differently, writing on the Sussex Express Facebook page: "Keep the census, go back to calling at each house and seeing the people on the census."

While many readers said there was other ways to collect the data nowadays Jason Archer issued a warning.

"Other data' would very likely involve breaching or 'amending' the Data Protection Act and GDPR to acquire such a comprehensive picture," he wrote. "I don't entirely trust privately sourced data, as much as I don't entirely trust census data either. We need both. Also I don't view it as a tradition but a rather necessary *attempt* at gathering valid data about the population. However making it a legal requirement to complete it is rather archaic, and certainly should be up for debate."