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2011 Census to count van and heavy goods vehicle drivers

Ten years ago the 2001 Census showed that there were over 230,000 people
employed in England and Wales as heavy goods vehicle drivers, and over
220,000 as van drivers. But what will the 2011 Census reveal?

The census is a once-a-decade event, run by the Office for National Statistics, that affects everyone in England and Wales. In March 2011 a white envelope with a purple C emblazoned on it will drop through your letterbox. Inside will be a questionnaire which can be completed securely online (through the census website www.census.gov.uk), or on paper. It takes about 10 minutes per adult to complete, much less for children. Census statistics are used as the cornerstone for planning our communities. Housing, schools, hospitals, roads – all of these things are planned using census statistics.

"We ask confidential questions about employment – what people do in their main job – so that we can highlight trends for planners, for example, if more space is needed for offices, retail, industrial or logistical and warehousing areas," says Peter Stokes, 2011 Census Statistical Design Manager.

"If a business is looking to expand or relocate, census stats can help
choose somewhere by identifying areas where there are a significant number of people with appropriate work experience/qualifications. This could make recruitment easier.

"Census statistics can also be used to help work out how effective certain policies are. So, for example, training providers can see, based on a local population’s profile (such as age, sex and qualifications), whether the courses they are running are appropriate and relevant, and plan for the future based on accurate figures."

The 2001 Census showed that 239,519 people aged 16-74 were employed as heavy goods vehicle drivers in England and Wales. A further 226,677 people were employed as van drivers. The area with the most heavy goods vehicle drivers was Leeds with 3,032. The highest density was in Eden, where one in every 46 people was a heavy goods vehicle driver.

Birmingham was home to the most van drivers, with 4,289 people employed in that occupation. The highest density was in Slough, where one in every 98 people was a van driver.

The Office for National Statistics’ Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings
showed that the median average annual earnings for all full-time
employees is £25,879 and the median average annual earnings for all
full-time heavy goods vehicle drivers in 2010 was £24,977, while for van
drivers it was £18,885.

But what’s changed in the past decade? A tough economic climate is affecting most industries, and, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the amount of commercial vehicles registered in 2009 was down to 225,455, compared to the decade high of 392,481 in 2007.

The rise in petrol costs may also affect the industry. The AA reported in November that the average price for diesel was 123p per litre, while
unleaded petrol cost 119.1p per litre. The AA states that these figures
mean the UK has the eighth highest unleaded price in Europe, and the
second highest diesel price.

Will the economic climate have a knock-on effect on the amount of people working as van and heavy goods vehicle drivers? The 2011 Census will reveal some of the answers.

To find out more about the 2011 Census, go to www.census.gov.uk.

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