Helping someone who lacks the capacity to answer for themselves : Do I have to complete the census for this person?

You're allowed to complete the census for someone who lacks the capacity to answer for themselves. The person you're completing for will have a letter or a paper form. Both of these contain an access code, so you can complete online even if they have a paper form.

What are my responsibilities?

If you're this person’s carer or you have lasting power of attorney (LPA), you have a responsibility to act in their best interest under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

… permit and encourage the person to participate, or to improve [their] ability to participate, as fully as possible in any act done for [them]...

— Mental Capacity Act 2005, section 4
What do we mean by "in their best interest"?

At the Office for National Statistics we consider it to be in the person’s best interests for you to complete the census for them if they can’t do it for themselves.

There are two main reasons.

  • The census is compulsory for everyone living in England and Wales or staying for three months or more.
  • Completing a census allows their local authority to understand the needs of the people who live there.

Therefore, it’s reasonable to conclude that it is in the person’s best interests to help them take part in the census.

If you have authority to act on this person's behalf, you're responsible for completing the census for them as best you can. This responsibility is outlined in the Census Act 1920.

An example of a person with authority to act on someone's behalf could be a carer or someone with lasting power of attorney (LPA).

I manage the establishment where this person lives

As the manager of the establishment, you’re responsible for ensuring residents receive their census forms. This responsibility is outlined in the Census Act 1920.

You should try and help residents fill in their forms where you can. You can delegate this task to staff if necessary.

If a resident lacks the capacity to respond themselves, you're responsible for making sure their census form is completed.