Next census 'predominantly online'
The next census of people in England and Wales will be " predominantly online", the leading statisticians have said.
If the next census goes ahead, the majority of people will be required to fill out a form on the internet instead of the traditional paper survey, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
In 2011, when the last census took place, 16% of respondents chose to respond to the England and Wales census online.
National Statistician Jil Matheson said: " We are recommending that the next census is predominantly online, to reflect changes in technology and people's expectations of how they can provide information of this kind."
If the Government gives the go-ahead, the next census will take place in 2021.
The ONS made the recommendation following a consultation into the future of the survey, which gathers data about the population of England and Wales.
"Our research suggests that the general public is ready to move to a fully online census, as long as there is appropriate help and support for those who cannot or will not go online," according to the ONS.
Sir Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, has written to the Cabinet Office setting out the recommendation to the Government.
In his letter to Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude, he said: "The National Statistician has concluded that the demand for a decennial census remains strong and that there is general support for the next census being conducted predominantly online (with help and support being provided to individuals who may not be willing or able to respond in this way).
"The National Statistician has recommended making the best use of all sources, combining data from an online census in 2021 and administrative data and surveys. The Board of the Authority accepts and endorses her recommendation and I commend it to you."
A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: "We recognise the value of the census but Francis Maude has long said that it is outdated in its current form and could be more effectively and more cheaply delivered.
"The Government welcomes the recommendations by the Office for National Statistics to modernise its approach. We will consider these in detail and respond more thoroughly in due course."