Nytt

Britiske myndigheter skal bruke 480 millioner pund på en ny, gigantisk undersøkelse for å kartlegge hvor stor befolkningen i Storbritannia egentlig er. I tillegg skal samfunnsendringene som har funnet sted siden 2001 kartlegges. Undersøkelsen er initiert av stadig større mistanker om at hittil publiserte statistikker blant annet grovt har underdrevet omfanget av innvandringen til landet.

Storbritannias offentlige institusjoner og velferdsordninger er kommet under et enormt press, og flere offisielle statistikker har i den senere tid vist at regjeringens anslag og oversikt over det reelle befolkningsantallet og hvor mange innvandrere som ankommer landet er feilaktige.

I undersøkelsen vil hver husholdning være pliktig til å oppgi når de flyttet til England eller Wales, samt hva slags pass de er innehavere av. De som unnlater å svare vil bli oppsøkt av offentlig tjenestepersonell i et forsøk på både å øke deltagelsen og å få fastslått det virkelige innbyggertallet i Storbritannia.

The proposals have been driven by claims that existing surveys and statistics have underestimated significantly the number of immigrants who have come to the UK in the past decade, putting strain on public services and housing.

In a further bid to capture how society has changed since the last census, the 2011 poll will ask residents whether they consider their «national identity» to be British, or English, Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish.

People will also be asked if they have step-parents or step-children, if they have entered into civil partnerships and whether they have second homes.

Announcing a White Paper on the new census, its director, Glen Watson, admitted: «The information we have on migration at the moment is insufficient, and is not meeting the needs of our users.

«The information is incredibly valuable so we are doing our best to get it.»

The 2001 census, which cost £220m to complete, asked residents to state their country of birth, their ethnicity and their address a year earlier in order to work out how many people were coming to the UK from abroad as well as moving within the country.

Det nasjonale statistikkbyrået (ONS) insisterer på at 94 prosent av innbyggerne svarte i 2001-undersøkelsen, men det er utbredte bekymringer for at det totale befolkningsantallet som da ble anslått – 59 millioner – var omtrent 1 million lavere enn det reelle antallet.

Lokale myndigheter i områder som har registrert stor tilflytning siden 2001, klager over at de ikke har fått tilstrekkelige økonomiske midler fra sentralregjeringen til å finansiere offentlige tjenester, utelukkende fordi det virkelige antallet innbyggere i kommunen ikke er kjent.

The new census, which will cost an estimated £480m to design, complete and analyse, and will take place on March 27, 2011, aims to redress this problem by asking new specific questions on migration. An estimated £100bn of public funds is distributed each year on the basis of census data.

The ONS is currently building a detailed list of every address in England and Wales, which will itself cost up to £8m, and will then post 35 million questionnaires through postboxes as well as hand delivering them to prisons, hospitals and nursing homes.

New proposed questions, which must be agreed to by MPs, require each member of every household to state what month and year they came to live in the UK, how long they plan to stay in the country and what passports they hold.

In responding to the question on ethnic group, people will now be able to answer «Gypsy or Irish Traveller» or «Arab».

Legally all households are required to fill in the census.

Just 38 people were prosecuted for refusing to complete the form last time, so now each address that does not return a census will be visited by an official and could eventually receive a £1,000 fine.

Det forventes at så mange som 1 av 4 husholdninger vil svare på internett-skjemaet. ONS sier at det nye systemet vil sikre korrekte data, men innrømmer at ytterligere bommerter i forhold til regjeringens befolkningsdata kan ødelegge publikums tiltro til samme.

Ertan Hurer, cabinet member for finance at Enfield Council, which has long disputed the census figures, said: «If these new proposals ensure greater accuracy then all well and good. However, it would mean nothing unless the Government fully funds councils for the increased costs of population growth.»

The Telegraph: £480m census will attempt to gauge scale of migration to England and Wales