Clarification required

Mija made this Freedom of Information request to Office for National Statistics

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Dear Office for National Statistics,

I note on your site the following:

The most recent census of England and Wales took place on 27 March 2011 and included a number of new approaches designed to improve census return rates in all areas and with all population groups. These include:
questionnaire tracking and targeted field follow-up: to identify and follow up households which have not returned a questionnaire.

Please could you supply the definition you are using of the word "targeted". Please also clarify the definition you are using of the word "target" and provide details of how targets are identified for targeting field follow-ups to ensure improvements in census return rates.

Specifically, please provide the following:
1 - What percentage of the households from which a questionnaire has not been returned are subject to follow-up?

2 - What criteria are used to select the follow-up targets?

3 - are those employed for follow-up targeting the same staff as those employed for early prompting to return the questionnaires?

4 - are the follow-up targets identified by post codes?

5 - are those employed for followup targeting and visits to households subject to the same employment terms and conditions as those employed for early prompting?

6 - what information are the target teams given which are presumed to relate to the household from which a questionnaire has not yet been returned?

Thank you for your prompt attention
Yours faithfully,


Paul Wearn, Office for National Statistics

Our Reference: FOI01241/Mija/QE1

Dear Mija,
The adoption of postback of census questionnaires enabled a more flexible
deployment of field staff resources to focus on those areas of low
response rates.
The requirement for each householder to make a census return is statutory.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) must therefore make every attempt
to remind and encourage those households that do not return completed
census questionnaire to do so. ONS targeted its field force resources at
those areas expected to have the lowest response rates (and therefore to
have the higher numbers of households to follow-up). This targeting was
based on an analysis of the 2001 Census and Census Coverage Survey which
identified factors associated with lower response rates. These included
areas with high proportions of multi-occupancy, students, the elderly,
one-person households, and immigrant communities whose first language is
not English. The 2001 Census information was supplemented with more
up-to-date survey data and other sources on how areas had changed.

In answer to your questions specifically:-

1) All households from which a questionnaire was not received were subject
to follow-up, to provide help and support and to encourage people to
participate in the census.

2) see above

3) Census follow-up staff were employed from 6 April *** 13 May.

4) Field follow-up resources were targeted based on census enumeration
districts and the 2,200 census coordinator (team leader) areas.

5) All census front-line field staff were employed on the same terms and

6) The only information that census field staff had was a list of
households who had not responded to the census. Teams may also have been
briefed with publicly available information on an area and any local
intelligence that might help them to do their job (such as contact
information for concierges in access-controlled buildings).

You have the right to have this response to your freedom of information
request reviewed internally by an internal review process and, if you
remain unhappy with the decision, by the Information Commissioner. If you
would like to have the decision reviewed please write to Dennis Roberts,
Office for National Statistics, Room 1214, Government Buildings, Cardiff
Road, Newport, Gwent, NP10 8XG.

If you have any queries about this email, please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

Kind regards,

Paul Wearn LLB (Hons)
Legal Services
Office for National Statistics

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