A Census Test is to be carried out across Scotland on April 23, 2006, it was announced today.
The test is designed to help decide exactly how the 2011 Census will be carried out, and will run in parts of Glasgow City, West Dunbartonshire, Highland, Stirling, Perth & Kinross and Argyll & Bute Council areas.
It will try out possible new Census questions and will test different ways of making the Census form easier to complete, particularly for groups of people who do not find it easy to complete Census forms. And it will help the design of the follow-up to the Census - the processing of the information on the forms, the quality checks and the production of the Census results.
Deputy Minister for Finance, Public Service Reform and Parliamentary Business Tavish Scott said:
"2011 - the likely date of the next Census - seems very far away. But the Census is such a complex and important task that work needs to start now.
"We have chosen to test some new questions, and different approaches to carrying out the Census, in the kinds of places which have been hard to reach in the past - with the aim of reducing the burden on people who complete Census forms and improving the cost-effectiveness of the operation."
Maps showing the test areas are available on this website.
The test includes rural areas with many holiday homes, inner-city areas with a relatively high number of ethnic minority people and peripheral housing estates.
About 52,000 households will be asked to complete a Census form. Although the Census itself is compulsory, the completion of forms will be voluntary in the Census Test. But, as in a full Census, the information on the forms will be kept confidential. No information about identifiable individuals or households will be made available outside the General Register Office for Scotland (the Government department which runs the Census in Scotland). Everyone working on the Census Test will sign a confidentiality promise.
Before the 2001 Census, a similar Census Test was held in 1997 which proved invaluable for paving the way for the Census itself.