LONDON, July 10 (UPI) -- Britain has decided to end the census, the official government population count for more than two centuries, officials say.
Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, told The Daily Telegraph the once-a-decade census is an expensive and inaccurate method for tracking population and demographic changes in Britain.
He said the government is looking at alternatives including public and private databases and credit agency reports.
"There are, I believe, ways of doing this which will provide better, quicker information, more frequently and cheaper," said Maude, who oversees the census.
Whatever the decision, the method of gathering information about the nation's population, religion and social habits will change dramatically.
It's too late to drop the next census, on March 27, 2011, from going ahead at cost to the government of $728 million, British officials said.
Britain has conducted the census every decade since 1801 except 1941 during World War II.
The government uses results to determine spending priorities and track population changes. Academies, charities and religious groups rely on the census for demographic information on people's households, nationality and marital status.
Last year, Britain posted online the 1911 census and it became an instant hit, with 3 million people accessing the database within a few months.