These concerns and opportunities led the UK Government to question if a supplementary or wholly alternative approach to the traditional 10-yearly census was required; more frequent, possibly annual, small-scale surveys could be employed instead.
In 2011, The Beyond 2011 Programme was established to look at alternatives to the traditional census approach.
It proposed that in 2021 there should be a decennial-style census for England and Wales, which in contrast with earlier censuses, would be conducted predominantly through online completion of census forms, supplemented by the further use of administrative and survey data.
Existing census gathering methods would be used only as an alternative, where online methods are not feasible.
In April 2014, the British House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) concluded in its report Too soon to scrap the Census, that the 2021 census should go ahead.
It has reservations over the lack of investigation into the options for using administrative data and encouraged the UK Government to reassure the public about privacy concerns.
The UK Statistics Authority announced on 27 March 2014 that it has recommended to the United Kingdom Government that the next census in England and Wales should take place in 2021, a decade after the previous census in March 2011.
These announcements followed on from a series of co-ordinated research projects known collectively as the Beyond 2011 Programme.
The UK Statistics Authority, which coordinates the United Kingdom census, has proposed that the 2021 census should be conducted predominantly online and be supplemented by the use of administrative and survey data.
Legislation will be required by the Westminster government and devolved administrations.
After the 2001 census both the UK coalition government and previous Labour Government expressed concerns about the rising costs of the decennial census.
There were also concerns about the value of continuing with the traditional approach adopted for the 2001 census.
This included whether collection methods were still fit for purpose in a rapidly changing society and whether census outputs, based on a survey conducted every ten years, would continue to meet the increasingly demanding needs of public and private sector users.