The 2011 UK Census will provide invaluable information to policy planners and consuls alike, Ian White, head of census legislation, told the Consular Corps at a recent lecture.
He admitted that while foreign nationals were some of the hardest to count, the data would provide a vital snapshot of migration patterns in the UK.
It is expected that the first census results, in the form of summary data, should be available as early as September 2012, with detailed results following in 2013 and 2014. The demographic information gathered will be critical in a number of areas of policy planning, including education, housing, social services and pensions.
Diplomatic missions could find the data useful too, added White. While individual information remains confidential, data gathered on countries of origin may help consuls track down where their communities are concentrated to aid in the efficient deployment of consular resources.
The census has been carried out since 1801, but there are suggestions that it is too costly and should be scrapped. The census cost £480m over 13 years – 80p for every person per year.