London

Kensington and Chelsea to improve census response

One of London's richest areas is asking its residents to fill in their census forms, after the borough had the lowest response rate in the country in 2001.

Kensington and Chelsea Council said 64% of people completed the questionnaire, compared with the England average of 94% and London average of 85%.

Census staff will be present at a cultural event at Kensington Small Hall to offer help with the forms.

The data will determine the government funding needed for public services.

Urging all residents to respond to the census the council said even if a few households did not complete the questionnaire, "it could make a very real difference to people's lives".

'Billions lost'

In a statement the council explained the reason behind the area's past census performance.

"Response rates are usually lower in cities and particularly areas with large numbers of flats, mixed ethnic communities and where lots of people rent their homes from private landlords - all features that are characteristic of the royal borough," it said.

The capital falls far below the national average when it comes to the response rate for the census.

It is estimated that services lose about £600 in funding for every person who does not fill the form in London.

Jules Pipe, chairman of London Councils - which represents the capital's boroughs, said: "Not just millions but billions of pounds don't go to public services in London.

"Just in my own borough of Hackney, the local health service forgoes about £40m and the council loses about £17m".

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