Members News

Annual Census 2021

The Census is looming after Christmas, make sure you’re prepared.

Pretty much straight after Christmas we’ll be into Census time.

The preparations for the 2021 may take some additional time, as you may need to contact people to find out if they intend to return to Scouting in 2021.

There are a number of changes to the 2021 Census process to help capture the impact of the pandemic on Scouting. Take time to read the support information on

Don’t wait for 31 January, although this is the nominal date for the Census, this year it’s just important to get things done as soon as possible.

Collect your information before the event and then when the Census system becomes available on 14 January 2021 enter your information as soon as possible DO NOT wait until 31 January.

Here are the key deadlines and information for Norfolk.

Click here for Norfolk Census Deadlines

There is plenty of support on the Scouts website and a webinar planned for 18 January 2021

Book you place here

A message from Tim Kidd and Ross Maloney 

Last week an email was send to all Group Scout Leaders about the Census, if you’ve missed it, or you’re a volunteer that helps with the Census you can read it here:


This has been one of our toughest ever years. Now, as we head into the new year, we need to continue to work together to protect our movement’s future and help young people gain skills for life.

The challenge ahead

Now’s the time to find out which young people wish to remain members of the movement and then for this to be accurately reflected in the census. In particular, it’s important to speak with the families of young people you haven’t heard from to understand if they will wish to keep their place.

This is also the time for some tough decisions. If there are some young people who haven’t been taking part in activities, then you may want to consider offering that place to someone on your waiting list instead.

UK membership fees make it possible for us to provide the essential services that keep Scouts running. These include support for online and face-to-face programmes, training programmes, awards, safety guidance, safeguarding services and insurance. These are fixed costs with no scope for reduction based on lower membership figures.

If members aren’t declared correctly on the census, then there won’t be sufficient insurance in place and there is a risk of critical services being impacted. This includes how effectively we can respond to safeguarding issues, process disclosure checks, provide legal support and liability protection when needed, and respond to critical incidents.

Whether your section has been active or not recently, unfortunately the annual membership is not ‘pay as you go.’ If a young person is still a member of the movement, then the full UK and local membership fee needs to be paid.

Help for you

While membership fees still need to be collected, we know the pandemic has presented financial challenges for some Groups/Units. Therefore, we are committed to financially supporting the 10% of Groups/Units most in need and the census process is designed to identify those Groups/Units.

To do this you’ll notice that this year’s census has some additional questions. Answering these will help us understand if your Group/Unit needs financial support.

The census is primarily about understanding how many members we have. We know there will be families in hardship and we do not want cost to be a barrier to Scouting.

You may be looking to support some young people with their membership fee as a Group/Unit. If your Group/Unit needs financial support to cover membership fees for young people your District or County/Area/Region may be able to offer help. If there is no support locally then your census return will determine if you are in the 10% of Groups/Units most in need of financial help and eligible for money from the Recovery Fund we’re building nationally.

A reminder of our Scout values

We know the vast majority of our volunteers operate within our values of integrity, respect, care, cooperation and belief. Yet given the disruptions of this year, some may feel inclined to under-declare membership figures to avoid membership fees. I ask you, please, do not be tempted to do this. Getting a true picture of our membership means we’re more likely to be able to attract external funding. In turn, this means we can keep the membership fee affordable to families.

Taking action now

If you have not already, please start conversations now with parents and carers to understand who wishes to remain a member in 2021. Then please count these on the census.

We appreciate that our Groups/Units are in different situations. If you’re unsure how to tackle this task, then please do contact your District team for advice.

We’ll also be hosting an online Q&A to answer your questions on Wednesday 13 January 2021. You can register for this session now.

We’re determined that Scouts will get through this current crisis and emerge stronger on the other side. An accurate census in 2021 will play a vital part in achieving this.

Thank you for everything you’re doing.


Tim Kidd

UK Chief Commissioner

The Scouts

Ross Maloney

Chief Operating Officer

The Scouts