Census 2021: information for housing associations with empty properties

25 March 2021

Census Day 2021 fell on the 21 March. In order to support our members to meet Census requirements, the NHF has been in ongoing discussions with the Office of National Statistics (ONS) about housing associations’ responsibilities in reporting empty properties. As the Census covers both population and housing, the expectation is that properties which were vacant on 21 March 2021 are reported on by their owners. However, the ONS recognise the resource implications for housing associations if they have to submit a separate return for every single empty property, particularly for those providers with a large number of them.

Therefore, following constructive conversations with the ONS, we have established a new system for housing associations. We can now confirm that you can instead submit Census information in one simple spreadsheet, rather than multiple individual submissions, which the ONS will then compile to use directly in the 2021 Census.

You may still use the normal Census submission method (individual submissions for each empty property) if you prefer.    

While the ONS would like to receive as much of the information as possible, they recognise that it may not all be available for every property. They would rather receive incomplete information than no information at all. So please don’t be put off if you can’t provide every single detail.

Please compile the relevant information and return it directly to the ONS. Further guidance on which properties you should include is available on the government's website.

The ONS would like to receive this information as soon as possible, but by the end of April at the latest.

Who to speak to

Tristan Carlyon, Head of Research and Analysis