The 2011 Census offers an insight into changes in England and Wales by providing a snapshot of the population on 27 March 2011: who people are, how they live and what they do.
The Census is unique because it is the only information source that measures these characteristics together across the whole population. Aside from being of interest generally, this information, together with other statistics, is used by central government to plan and allocate local authority services funding, and is used by local authorities, including Horsham District Council, to develop their policies and services to meet the needs of their local communities.
What the Census reveals about Horsham District residents is that while there are some similarities with the national picture, there are a number of important areas where it does not reflect the characteristics of the population of the country as a whole, notably housing tenure, car ownership, marital status and a higher age profile.
The number of people owning their own homes is dropping and more are renting privately. Home ownership – either with a mortgage or loan, or outright – has decreased since 2001, when the previous Census was conducted, but to a lesser degree than nationally. In 2011 three quarters of Horsham District residents owned their own home, slightly fewer than in 2001. Over one in ten now rent from a private landlord or letting agency.
Car ownership is high in the Horsham District at one and a half cars per household. The rural nature of the District is likely to have had some impact on this statistic, and this has not increased since 2001. Nationally this figure is 1.2 cars per household.
Marital and civil partnerships in the Horsham District do not reflect the national trend. Just over a quarter of residents are single; nationally this figure is 35%, and over half of the residents of the District are married (55%).
Attitudes to religion seem to have changed significantly and are in line with the national position. The number of Christians in the District decreased to 64% from 76% in 2001, and the group who stated that they had no religious affiliation increased to 27% from 15% in 2001.
The Census suggests that people are becoming better educated, with more getting degrees or similarly high levels of education; in the Horsham District one in three people have qualifications at Level 4 or above (e.g. first degree).
In addition to the detailed information released by the Office for National Statistics about the Census 2011, interactive data visualisations are also provided on its website (http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/census/2011/index.html) to help interpret the results.