Census Logo 2021

What is the Census?  

The census happens every 10 years and gives us a picture of all the people and households in England and Wales. The census is unlike anything else in providing information about us and the society we live in at a point in time. It helps public bodies decide how to plan and fund services in your area. This means the information from the census can help to inform local and national decisions on education, housing, public transport, libraries, healthcare and much more. The most recent census was carried out on the 21st March 2021. It asked questions about you, your home and the people who live in it. 

Over the next 2 years data will be published from the census by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This will cover a range of topics and be produced for variety of geographical areas. We are currently running a survey to help us understand the data and analysis you require from the Census, so we can meet our users needs. The survey is available here and will take around 10 minutes to complete. Alternatively if you would like to discuss your data requirements please email knowledge@northumberland.gov.uk

Data for Northumberland will be provided via this web page alongside links to national analysis produced by ONS. The timetable of future releases is available below.

Census 2021 Logo Demography and Migration

Demography and Migration

On 2 November 2022 the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published the next phase of Census 2021 outputs looking at topics including migration, country of birth and household size and structure.

Statistics below Local Authority level have been published for the first time down to Output Area (OA) level (neighbourhoods of between 100 and 625 usual residents), where possible. There are also statistical bulletins providing text, charts and tables and supporting information including statistical methods and quality measures.


Key Links:

Demography and Migration data from Census 2021 in England and Wales.

You can use Census maps to find out what people’s lives are like across England and Wales. This digital content allows you to explore Census 2021 data for different topics down to a local authority and neighbourhood level. The Northumberland interactive map compares statistics at a Northumberland and neighbourhood level. 

Census maps can help you to find out things like:

  • which areas have larger populations of older and younger people
  • which neighbourhoods have the highest percentages of people living alone
  • which areas have the highest and lowest percentages of people married or in civil partnerships

Demography & migration statistical bulletins

There is also an article describing what Census 2021 data tells us about ageing and why it matters: Voices of our ageing population: Living Longer Lives.

Census 2021 - First Release - Population and Households

Census 2021 first results (published 28th June 2022)  include five datasets containing population and household estimates for England and for Wales, rounded to the nearest 100, at local authority level. These are:

  • usual resident population by sex
  • usual resident population by 5-year age group
  • usual resident population by sex and 5-year age group
  • usual resident population density
  • number of households

ONS Census 2021 First Release - Full Data and Key Links

Interactive Profile of Northumberland, ONS

Population and Household Estimates for England & Wales, ONS

Statistical Bulletin outlining the first results from Census 2021 for England and Wales, ONS

Interactive tool to compare age-sex estimates and comparator data from Census 2021 to other areas within England and Wales, ONS

Census Interactive Content

  • Census 2021 population map game - move across England and Wales by correctly guessing if the number of people living in an area is higher or lower than others.
  • How the population changed where you live - which local authority areas have seen the biggest population increases and decreases, which areas had the largest growth in different age groups, and how your chosen area compares with others.

All information on the first release can be accessed on the ONS census website.

Data and Analysis from the First Release

The population of England and Wales is the largest ever recorded

There were 59,597,300 people living in England and Wales on 21 March 2021, the day of the latest census.This is over 3.5 million more (6.3%) than in 2011 and is the largest census population ever recorded.

Key Statistics Northumberland – Census 2021 First Release

In Northumberland, the population size has increased by 1.4%, from around 316,000 in 2011 to 320,600 in 2021. This is lower than the overall increase for England (6.6%), where the population grew by nearly 3.5 million.

Map showing Northumberland population change 2011 to 2021

At 1.4%, Northumberland's population increase is slightly lower than the increase for the North East (1.9%). Newcastle upon Tyne and North Tyneside have seen their populations increase by around 7.1% and 4.1%, respectively, while others in the region, such as County Durham saw a smaller increase (1.7%) with Gateshead experiencing a decrease of 2.1%.

Graph showing North East local authority population change 2011 to 2021

In 2021, Northumberland ranked 36th for total population out of 309 local authority areas in England, which is a fall of eight places in a decade.
Population Density
As of 2021, Northumberland is the least densely populated of the North East's 12 local authority areas, with an area equivalent to around two football pitches per resident (64 people per sq. km). This is an increase of 1.6% on 2001 when the density was 63 people per sq.km. Northumberland is the 6th most sparsely populated local authority in England.
Age and Sex
51.2% of Northumberland residents are women and 48.8% men.  
There has been an increase of 28.9% in people aged 65 years and over, a decrease of 5.9% in people aged 15 to 64 years, and a decrease of 3.4% in children aged under 15 years.
The largest increase was seen in the 70-74 age band, growing by 50%. The number of people aged between 40 and 49 decreased by 21% over the decade.

Graph showing population by age group in Northumberland 2011 to 2021

There were 146,900 households with at least one usual resident, an increase of 6.1% on 2011.

Map showing change in household numbers in Northumberland 2011 to 2021

Supporting Materials

ONS report on quality - How ONS maximised the quality of Census 2021 population estimates during the processing and quality assurance of the final statistics.

Quality and methodology information (QMI) for Census 2021 - Details the strengths, limitations, uses, users and methods used for Census 2021, England and Wales.

Future releases and outputs

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), released the first results from Census 2021 on Tuesday 28 June 2022, and plan to publish all the main results within two years of the Census.

The results will be published in phases on the ONS website, with the data growing richer and more detailed with each phase.

In each phase commentary and analysis will be published alongside the data to support and explain it.

Phase one of Census 2021 results (June 2022 - Winter 2022)

Phase one began with the first results, which were published on Tuesday 28 June 2022. These included estimates of the number of people and households in England and Wales and showed the number of people by sex and age at local authority level.

ONS will then publish topic summaries and facts and figures about areas in the rest of phase one.

Census 2021 topic summaries

Topic summaries include sets of data, or datasets, most of which include data from a single variable. A variable is a particular characteristic of a person or household, for example, religion or accommodation type.

These topic summaries will include:

Facts and figures for your area

Facts and figures will be available across a range of topics for a specific area.

Profiles will be produced for all geographical areas right down to local ones, usually made up of around 100 households. These will allow users to compare local and national statistics.

Phase two of Census 2021 results (winter 2022 to early 2023)

In phase two, multivariate data for the usual resident population base will be published allowing users to combine multiple variables. This flexibility will allow users to fully explore and understand characteristics of a population and the links between them.

Phase 2 will also see the release of short-term resident population data, those who were not born in the UK and who intend to stay in the UK for less than 12 months.

In this phase ONS will also begin a three-year, detailed Census 2021 analysis programme.

Phase three of Census 2021 results (from Spring 2023)

In phase three, ONS will publish datasets on four data types.
  • Alternative population bases - These are different places where individuals could’ve been counted, such as workplace or location out of term-time.Or, they might be different populations, such as short-term residents born outside the UK.
  • Small populations - These are small groups of the population with the same cultural background, such as an ethnic group, national identity or religion.
  • Origin-destination or “flow” data - These show the movement of people from one place to another, for example, moving from overseas, or to and from a second address.
  • Microdata - These are small samples of census records, with all identifying information removed, for approved researchers.

For more information on the timetable visit the ONS release plans website.

Data and analysis for previous census can be accessed here:

Northumberland analysis
ONS 2011 census webiste
1961-2011 Data - Nomisweb

2001 and older
ONS historic Census data
Census data 1841 to 1911

Future of the Census
Census Transformation Programme


Key Census Links

Census 2021

Data and analysis for previous census

2001 and older

Future of the Census

Census Transformation Programme

Social Media

Twitter Facebook Instagram

Quality Assurance

ONS report on quality - How ONS maximised the quality of Census 2021 population estimates during the processing and quality assurance of the final statistics.

Quality and methodology information (QMI) for Census 2021 - Details the strengths, limitations, uses, users and methods used for Census 2021, England and Wales.
ONS commentary on conducting Census 2021 during a period of change

Keeping your data safe

More information on how ONS keeps the data you have provided through the Census safe and how they protect your identity can be found on the ONS Census website.

ONS have produced a video (Census 2021: Your Data and Security) explaining this process.

History of the Census

The first census in 1801, found the population of England and Wales was 8.9 million, (not counting those at sea, in the military, or prisoners). That’s roughly what the population of London was in 2020. 

Just as society has changed, so has the census evolved over this time. 1911 was the first census to use punch cards to process data, jump ahead to 1961 and we had the first census processed on a computer, and last year almost 90% of respondents completed the census online. 

The questions in the census have changed to provide deeper insight and understanding over the generations. The earliest questionnaires contained a few simple questions focusing on occupation and age. This has been added to over the years with the inclusion of questions on Welsh language, car ownership, ethnicity and religion to create the rich data we will produce in our latest census. The story continues!   

Ahead of the release of the first Census 2021 results on 28 June, ONS have published The Story of the Census. The article looks back at the history of the census, from the very first one in 1801, when the government was worried about famine and needed to know how many people to feed, right up to the first digital-first census last year.