Letter: False alarms over grants and census figures

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Sir: As interpreter of the census data for the London boroughs, the London Research Centre wants to allay the fears reported by local authorities (1 October).

These figures relate to the likelihood that the census figures will show large numbers of people 'missing' from metropolitan areas, leading to future under-funding by central government of local authority services. Preliminary results in summer 1991 appeared to confirm this anxiety. But the census was planned to try to compensate for the inevitable lack of contact with some households, especially in the heightened atmosphere following the introduction of separate community charge registers. The release this week of final figures indicates that the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys has arrived at a national 'headline' figure within about 0.4 per cent of the present best estimate.

Even better, next year's local authority grant assessment figures will not be finalised until the census validation results are known in a few weeks' time.

There need not, therefore, at present be an outcry about the quality of data from the 1991 census, although delays in getting the processed results in this age of information technology are a legitimate cause for complaint.

Yours sincerely,

ANNE PAGE

Chief Executive

London Research Centre

London, SE1

1 October

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