By Claire West

The capital could lose out on millions of pounds of funding for vital services, if Londoners fail to return their completed Census forms, the Mayor, Boris Johnson, has warned.

More than a quarter of public spending in London - £19.3 billion - is dependent on population figures, such as the Census, which are used to allocate funding for essential services ranging from the NHS through to transport, housing and policing.

It's estimated that boroughs lose out on £600 of funding for every Londoner who fails to fill out and return their Census form. Based on one grant alone, an undercount of 10,000 people per borough could see it lose £60 million in notional funding over a ten-year period, equivalent to 155 teachers per year. In the current tough economic climate, this would impact hard on already stretched local services.

Historically, London has the lowest response rate in the country. At the last census, in 2001, the 14 areas of the UK with the lowest response were all in the capital. The national average response was 94 per cent, while it was 85 per cent across London. One of the reasons for this is that London is home to dynamic, diverse and highly mobile populations with over 1.3 million people moving into and out of the city each year.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said:

‘In these difficult times, it is more vital than ever that we secure the maximum funding to which the capital is entitled, to ensure Londoners get the healthcare, housing, policing and public transport they need and deserve. Don't miss out on your chance to ensure a fair deal for yourself and your community - make sure you fill out your census form and return it on or as soon as possible after Sunday 27 March. It takes just 10 minutes to complete and you can even do it online.’

London Councils’ Chair, Mayor Jules Pipe, said:

‘The Census matters. Whether it’s for local schools, libraries or even care for the elderly, we need an accurate picture of London’s population to ensure we get the funding we need to deliver the services Londoners rely on. In the current financial climate it is more important than ever before that we achieve a good return from the Census — or else saddle the capital with another decade-long legacy of under-funding. Your council services depend on you filling out that form.’

Glen Watson, Director of the 2011 Census, said:

‘For the first time you can fill in the questionnaire online and it takes most people just 10 minutes to complete. But post back the completed form if you prefer. What is most important is that everyone makes sure they are included. The information is used to plan services like schooling, transport and health — services we all need.’

The Census is carried out every 10 years and forms are distributed to every household in the country. This year, for the first time ever, the census can also be completed online. The questionnaire should be returned or submitted online before, on or just after Census Day which is today.

The information collected on the questionnaires is used to help government, local authorities, businesses and others plan the services and resources people need, such as transport, housing, healthcare and education. The amount of money that local council’s have to spend on these important services is based on population statistics from the census.