‘Extreme caution’ is advised over census data collected during the pandemic, although the ONS said it had ‘full confidence’ in its figures
Census figures collected during the nationwide lockdown should be treated with ‘extreme caution’ according to a council leader, after appearing to leave out 3% of the capital’s population.
It has been claimed that the Office of National StatisticsThe latest data did not include 300,000 Londoners compared to the previous projection, although the organization said it had “full confidence” in its findings.
It comes as the overall population of England and Wales has grown by more than 6% over the past decade, to more than 60 million.
The data will impact funding levels according to the London Councils cross-party umbrella body, representing 32 boroughs and the City of London corporation.
He claimed around £4billion was used to raise funds from census data, with further billions lost to Greater London Assembly, the NHS and emergency services.
The ONS flatly denied the claims, saying it had “full confidence in our census estimates. We got a fantastic 97% response rate – and over 88% in every local authority – and undertook the comprehensive quality assurance ever, including involving local authorities for the first time.”
He said that “for some students and in some urban areas, there is evidence that the coronavirus pandemic has caused changes to where people live.”
Councilor Georgia Gould, Chair of London Councils, said “The 2021 census took place under the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic and national lockdown, so this snapshot data must be treated with a extreme caution”.
Saying that census data is “a really important tool for policy makers” and that “accurate census data is important”, she urged the government to consider the reported discrepancy in the numbers, as “billions pounds for frontline services are at stake”.
She said issues such as “high levels of migration, homelessness and population turnover” would have been made worse by the lockdown, in addition to those “who suffer from digital exclusion” while being forced to inside.
The organization says many Londoners would have been forgotten after leaving the capital during the pandemic. He also said one in ten Londoners had been missed in the previous census in 2011.
A campaign has also been launched by Central London Forward (CLF) to ‘find’ missing Londoners from the census.
CLF, a group of 12 local authorities, pointed out that the figures were “biased”, with Westminster missing by 30,000 people (15% of the population).
They have raised concerns that this could lead to a £40m funding cut, amid the rising cost of living, with Westminster City Council’s chief financial officer, Cllr David Boothroyd, warning that ‘In a time of soaring inflation, these lost Londoners really matter, especially in the funding we receive from the government.
The City of London Corporation and the Mayor of London have been approached for comment.