Households across the country have had some important post drop onto their doormats recently: their once-in-a-decade letter from the government, containing an online access code for the 2021 national census.
The census, run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), is a nationwide survey that happens once every 10 years, and failure to complete it can earn you a fine.
Although the official Census Day is Sunday 21 March, households will have a two-week grace period after this date to complete the survey.
A unique year
The situation this year is unique, however, with one particular group facing a potential £1,000 fine through no fault of their own.
With lockdown keeping us confined to our homes, owners of second homes or holiday lets won’t be able to visit their properties to open post until mid-April at the earliest.
Without reading their post, many second homeowners will be unaware that they also have to fill out a separate census for their second property, and unwittingly miss the deadline.
If you own a second home, don’t worry! You can fill in the census even without your letter by requesting a new access code at census.gov.uk, or requesting a paper survey in the post. And, for those who are completely unaware that they have to fill out the census for their second address, Peter Benton, Director of Population and Public Policy Operations at the ONS, sent a reassuring message.
In cases where a second homeowner misses the deadline due to not being able to open post at their property, he said, they should call the census helpline and explain their circumstances, which will be taken into account before any fines are issued.
Why do second homeowners have to fill in the census?
The census is used to get an overall picture of the people and households currently living in the UK. It helps the government get a better understanding of the country’s demographic profile and how this has evolved over the past decade.
It also provides an insight into people’s needs, facilitating informed decisions regarding the allocation of funding for public services in your area.
It is important for owners of second homes to fill in the census so that the number of people with second addresses can be calculated, and the reason why they own it (for example, work purposes or holiday) better understood.