How the Census Affects Housing and Planning Policy

The census is a vital tool for the organisation of strategic planning decisions taken by Central Government.  This helps the policy makers decide what we need in relation to housing and infrastructure. 

The different policies of Government Administrations will still determine the extent and the method of implementation of the requirements that can be indicated by the Census statistics.

For example, the previous Labour Government believed in a more centralised command policy hence the “commands” to local planning authorities to build more properties of a certain type.

The Conservative led coalition believes that the Local Authority and the Local and National Property Markets are best placed to decide where for instance new houses should be built and provides financial and other incentives to persuade and encourage the wider society and the local and national property markets to move in the direction that they think is appropriate.

The recent trends within the last few census demonstrate the changing social trends which have a necessary direct affect on housing policy in the UK.

In 2001, big changes in family structures were revealed, with fewer married couples, and a significant increase in lone parent families and single person households. 45 per cent of households contained a married couple, compared with 55 per cent in 1991 and 64 per cent in 1981. In places such as East Dorset and South Staffordshire the proportion was around six in ten households, but in much of Inner London it was down to fewer than one in four.

One-person households made up 30.3 per cent (7.4 million) of the total households in the UK – up from 26.3 per cent in 1991. Lone-parent households with dependent children made up 6 per cent (1.5 million) compared to 5.2 per cent in 1991 and in a further 3.7 per cent only grown-up children were present.

Around half the households in the City of London, Westminster, and Kensington and Chelsea were occupied by one person. Lone parent households represented one in six of the total in Knowsley and Liverpool.

Half of all adults (23.9 million) were either married or had re-married, but over 30 per cent of people were single (never married), compared with 26.3 per cent in 1991.

Divorced and separated people accounted for nearly 5 million adults (10.5 per cent) and widowed people 8.4 per cent.

Most of these factors have resulted in a greater number of smaller houses being required. 

What changes will the 2011 census demonstrate?  One likely feature is that with the now widespread use of online capability, a greater number of people are working from home.  A likely outcome may well be greater pressure for newly designed houses to have a dedicated ground floor office.  In 2021, we’ll let you know.

See also: 27th March 2011 – Census of every household in the UK ; Census History & Property Taxation.

25th February 2011