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The release of Census data is extremely useful to Worcestershire County Council and Districts. As the first accurate population counts in the county since the 1991 Census, it will enable the accurate allocation of grants from Central Government and other sources to the Local Authority. The data provided by the Census also provides valuable information relating to health, housing, employment, transport, and population forecasting. Statistical information from the 2001 Census is essential for planning and monitoring of public services within Worcestershire. Accurate information about all aspects of the population in Worcestershire allows Worcestershire County Council to plan resources, allocate funding, and monitor growth and migration. The information generated from the Census is also beneficial for research and educational purposes.
2001 Census has not been without problems. The release of the first set of data has been delayed until the 30th of September. A new initiative for the 2001 Census is the Census Coverage Survey (CCS). By interviewing a cross section of the population and matching the CCS interview results with the results already obtained by the 2001 Census, the survey estimated the number of individuals missed by the 2001 Census. The CCS information is combined with 2001 Census data, generating a national population estimate known as "One Number". The hope is that the new One Number Census will reduce problems following the 2001 Census.
A major reason for the delay in the release of data is due to proposals by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) regarding the rounding of data. Originally two proposals were put forward for consideration, both had advantages and disadvantages, and both caused controversy. The ONS finally decided to use a method where only very small counts within tables are rounded up, as opposed to all counts in tables being rounded to values divisible by three. By only rounding cells of a table with very small counts more of the data remains unchanged and the data is still internally additive. New disclosure control measures have been introduced as part of 2001 Census to protect the confidentiality of personal census information, including swapping of individual records between areas and an increase in minimum thresholds. The minimum thresholds for 2001 Census have been raised to 100 people or 40 households for census area statistics, and 400 households or 1000 people for standard tables. Output Areas have been introduced as part of the 2001 Census and are designed specifically for statistical purposes. Each output area contains approximately 125 households, and each area nestles within wards and parishes, and usually comprises whole unit postcodes. The output areas are created by a system that applies systematic, consistent criteria across the nation, and has been developed as a result of advanced software allowing automatic zoning methods to be used based upon coordinate referenced and postcode data. Census data will not be released until April 2003. The reason for this delay is due to ONS not finalising the Output Area boundaries until January 2003. The Output Area boundaries will be released prior to the Output Area Census data, probably between mid-February and April 2003.
Following the problems encountered by the Census a House of Commons Sub Committee was set up to investigate all aspects of the 2001 Census. A Final Report of findings of the committee was published on the 6th March 2002.
The Census has been heavily criticised in terms of preparation prior to Census day, the conduct of the census, and the planned output and release of information. Questions have also been raised regarding the cost-effectiveness of a census and its overall use. However the overall message from the report is that, "the Census provides vital information for government and business planning that is widely used in the public and private sectors".
There are four main geographical areas that ONS released Census data at:
Census Geographies are comprised of geographical building blocks that are aggregated up to different geographical areas. Building blocks are based upon an Ordnance Survey Grid reference. Each individual reference comprises an area of one square metre, this gives a building, household and people within that block a unique geographical reference. A line of co-ordinates, termed a digital boundary represents the boundaries of the large geographical areas.
"Small Area Statistics" produced prior to 2001 have been based around Enumeration Districts. For the release of 2001 Census Output areas have been designed specifically for statistical purposes and will replace Enumeration Districts. Output Areas have been created by a fully automated system that applies systematic and consistent criteria. Output Areas are based upon an algorithm and uses accommodation as one of the specific criteria. Output Areas include around 125 households and usually comprise whole unit postcodes. Output Areas usually have a regular shape and follow natural boundaries where possible. Populations that Output Areas represent tend towards homogeneity. The Output Areas have been designed to nestle within existing wards and parishes.
The Research & Intelligence Unit will be involved in the dissemination of data from the West Midlands Region level down to postal sector profiles.
Data will be available at: