The first results from the 2021 census in England and Wales are released this week with early signs of the impact of Covid-19 on the UK’s population growth expected.

Estimates of the population size in every local authority area will be published on Tuesday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), along with a breakdown by age and sex.

There will also be figures showing the change in population since the last census in 2011.

The number of people living in England and Wales grew by a record 7% in the decade to 2011, to reach 56.1 million.

A similar leap in the 10 years from 2011 to 2021 would take the population to just over 60 million.

The census takes place across the UK every 10 years and provides the most accurate estimate of all the people and households in the country.

Its results are used by a range of organisations including governments, councils and businesses, and underpins everything from the calculation of economic growth and unemployment to helping plan schools, health services and transport links.

When will census 2021 data be released?

Data from the 2021 census for England and Wales will be published in stages over the next two years, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The first release of results from Census 2021 will be on Tuesday, 28th June 2021 at 11am.

Future releases will include figures on ethnicity, religion, the labour market, education and housing plus – for the first time – information on UK armed forces veterans, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Census 2021: What will the data show?

Separate estimates by the ONS have already suggested the UK’s population in the 12 months to mid-2020 grew at the slowest rate in two decades, though this reflected the impact of only the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 20 million households across England and Wales filled in census questionnaires in spring last year, with a record 89% of responses completed online.

This has provided data of “extremely high quality”, according to Jen Woolford, ONS director of health, population and methods transformation.

“The data will give us a crucial baseline from which to measure changes in our society, which will help us understand changing needs,” she added.

“It was important to understand the population and its characteristics during the Covid-19 pandemic and early census data has already been used to understand more about vaccine uptake by occupation and to support the response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”