FENLANDER: Fill in census and secure �600 per year for services in Fenland

EVERY person who fills in and returns their census form will secure about �600 a year in future funding for services in Fenland – or �6,000 over the next 10 years.

That startling and little-known fact alone should encourage every householder to complete the questionnaire this weekend – quite apart from the fact that they have a legal obligation to do so.

Fail to fill it in and not only could you be prosecuted, local services will also suffer.

The reason is that the amount of government funding allocated to local councils is partly determined by the needs and trends identified by the census statistics. How much a council gets over the next decade is directly related to the number of people that the census shows live in the area.

Local authorities also use other details – on the numbers of children or elderly people, for example – to help shape their planning of services in the future.

A census has been held every 10 years since 1801, except in 1941 during the Second World War. The figures are used to help plan services such as transport, housing, healthcare and education. They are also an invaluable source of information for future generations researching their family histories.

Census day is this Sunday. Householders – those who own or rent the property - have to complete and return the form by April 6. Anyone failing to do that will subsequently be visited by a census collector.

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Paul Grundy, census area manager for Peterborough and Fenland, said: “At the last census in 2001 there was an ’undercount’ in this area. If that happens again, Fenland won’t get its fair share of the funding pie.

“So it’s important for its future to maximise the returns – and all the more important in this age of austerity, when money is short.”

For more information and help, visit www.census.gov.uk or phone the census helpline on 0300 0201 101 (calls charged at local rate). The helpline provides help and advice in more than 50 languages.

Census collectors will visit households that have not returned the form by April 6. They can answer questions and help you fill it in.

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