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The BBC's Jane Warr
"Forms will be posted to people in areas affected by foot-and-mouth disease"
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Census director, Graham Jones
"I'm confident we can take the census safely and effectively"
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Monday, 9 April, 2001, 08:53 GMT 09:53 UK
Census begins despite foot-and-mouth
Census form
All households must complete the forms
The once-in-a-decade population census is getting under way in the UK on Monday, despite the foot-and-mouth crisis.

Census takers will abide by strict guidelines in the worst-hit areas to ensure they do not contribute to the further spread of the disease.

Every household must take part in the survey or risk a 1,000 fine.

Its findings will help shape the provision of public services such as healthcare and schools over the next 10 years.

Most forms will be delivered by hand but census takers will not walk past cordons in foot-and-mouth areas.
Census statistics
23 million households surveyed
30 million census forms printed
40-41 census questions
70,000 temporary census workers
Census will cost 255m

Census director Graham Jones told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that many of the census takers were farmers themselves.

"We are very sensitive to the concerns.

"If necessary we will post the forms," he said.

The special instructions have been drafted up in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Maff), and endorsed by the National Assembly for Wales and the National Farmers' Union.

Snapshot survey

Mr Jones added that it was vital for everyone to take part in the census.

"This is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to provide information for all sorts of people - the government, local authorities, health authorities - to enable them to have the information to let them plan the resources for the next 10 years."

This is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to provide information for all sorts of people

Census director Graham Jones

This year's census includes many new elements.

For the first time the form can be posted back.

There is an optional question about religious denomination.

And there are options to define yourself as of mixed race or Irish ethnicity.

Ethnic background

Ted Barrington, Irish ambassador to London, welcomed this move for which many within the Irish community have been campaigning for many years.

He said: "It will give a much better picture profile of our community and will help the service providers, the health service, employment and social welfare provide a better more targeted service."

He said that a person does not have to be an Irish national as it was more about cultural background.

Up to 70,000 people have helped organise the census, which will cost an estimated 255m, according to the Office of National Statistics.

The forms this year have been simplified with more tick boxes.

There will be 40 questions in the form in England but 41 in Wales to include a survey of Welsh language speakers.

Householders can expect a visit from their enumerator by 20 April, in time for National Census Day on 29 April, although there may be a delay in areas where foot-and-mouth arrangements apply.

The main results of the census will be published in summer 2003 and will be made available mainly on the internet.

A special national telephone helpline has been set up in 12 different languages for queries about the census on 0845 301 2001.

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