Census is snapshot of society

Mark Taylor, New Alliance (letters page 8 February) highlights the coming census on 27 March.

The census is used to plan local services and allocate funding for those services. An accurate estimate of those living or staying in the area is therefore needed to help to allocate billions of pounds of public money to local areas. A census aims to count everybody and describes society - so your community and family can benefit from facilities that are needed and can be planned and budgeted for, years in advance. Information on everybody present in a household on census night including visitors has been asked in every census since 1801 to ensure that nobody is missed.

This information is used to produce the numbers of people in each area. However information about individuals - both visitors and/or members of the household - is kept confidential and not released for 100 years when the census records will provide a fascinating snapshot of society for historians and family tree enthusiasts. Everyone should look out for their purple and white census envelope arriving in the post in the middle of March.

John Wood, Census 2011 Area Manager, Craven, Hambleton, Richmondshire, Ryedale & Scarborough by email