By now, you should have had a letter through the post about filling in the census. It comes round every ten years, and it’s the way the government keeps track of how many people live where, what they do for a living, what religion they follow and so on. The idea is that everyone fills in their information on the same day – this time round it’s this coming Sunday, 21st March.
Everyone has to fill it in and if you don’t you can be hit with a pretty meaty fine of £1000.
The snag this year is that the letter they’ve sent out doesn’t actually have the census questions on it. They’ve saved themselves some paper and ink and just sent out a link to a website instead.
That might leave a few of you feeling a bit uncertain, so I wanted to go through how it works with you now, ready for census day on Sunday.
There are two sets of questions on the census – one for “the household” and one to be answered separately by each person – they should take about 10 minutes each (so 10 minutes per person plus an extra 10 minutes for the household).
So – first things first. Filling in the census online is nothing to worry about, but if you really don’t feel comfortable doing it that way, you can ask for a paper form. If you want to do that, and you haven’t already, I suggest you get one ordered as soon as you can.
Getting a paper version of the form: You can ask for a form either by ringing the census people on 0800 141 2021, or by going to their website. It’s not obvious straight away how to order the paper form on the website (they really want you to do it online), so I’ve given you a link straight to the right page here. It’ll ask you for your postcode, then you can choose your address from a dropdown list.
Filling in the form online: If you’re game to fill in the form online, that’s the way they’d prefer you to do it. Here’s what you need to do:
- Find the letter that you were sent in the post. On there, you’ll find a “household access code” made up of 16 numbers and letters. You’ll need that code to fill in the census. (If you can’t find your access code or you don’t think you were sent one, you can ask for another one to be texted to you.)
- Set aside half an hour or so to do this – technically, you’re supposed to do it on Sunday, but as long as you answer the questions as if it were Sunday, you can do it on a different day.
- When it gets to Sunday, either type www.census.gov.uk into your web browser, or click on this link to go straight there.
- Click on the “Start census” button and type your 16-digit code into the box.
- Answer each question on the screen – don’t worry, your answers are completely confidential.
- If you need to stop part way through, you can save your progress and come back to it later.
- When you’ve answered all the questions, click on “Submit” – and you’re done!
Another Royal Mail scam doing the rounds
I also wanted to warn you about a postage scam that’s going round by text message at the moment (the scammers sent one to Laura here at work last week, so we’ve seen it “in the flesh”, as it were…)
The message tells you that there’s some unpaid postage on a package and gives you a link to tap on to pay it. They say the postage is £2.99 – which is what a lot of companies charge for standard postage – so it seems plausible.Of course, if you tap on the link and give them your credit card details, they can use them to steal an awful lot more than £2.99 from you!
If you’re worried about it, Silver Surfers have written a really helpful article about it on their website.