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More inclusive data to better inform UK’s social and economic response

The National Statistician, Professor Sir Ian Diamond, has set out a series of initiatives to ensure the inclusivity of UK data so that issues facing the most vulnerable and disadvantaged are fully covered in statistics and evidence.

The collaborative development programme, covering all four nations of the UK, builds upon existing work and responds to the recommendations of the Inclusive Data Taskforce, which has also been published.

Professor Diamond commissioned the Taskforce in October 2020 with the aim of transforming the inclusivity of UK data and evidence.

The Taskforce report identifies eight areas for improvement and includes detailed recommendations.

In his response, the National Statistician highlights actions that are now being taken.

These include a collaboration between the Government Equalities Office and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to link existing data, enabling better insights into equalities across UK society. 

Commenting, National Statistician, Professor Sir Ian Diamond said:

"I warmly welcome the findings of the Inclusive Data Taskforce, which will help to improve the quality of data and evidence across the UK.

"During the Covid-19 pandemic and in the recent census in England and Wales, we have demonstrated the immense value of engaging more widely across all sections of society and finding new ways to ensure everyone counts and is counted.

“This includes linking different datasets to provide deeper insights and working closely with diverse groups to enable them to engage more fully with UK research and evidence.

"The UK has good, dependable statistics. But the more complete our coverage of all sections of society is, and the more precisely we can use data to analyse different aspects of people's lives, the more valuable our insights will be."  

The programme's other main developments include:

  • An Equalities Data Navigator tool from the ONS to make it easier to find data, this will be regularly updated as new and improved data becomes available.
  • Improving engagement with under-represented groups by building on the 2021 Census community outreach work and increasing feedback to people on how their data have been used.
  • Developing a ‘Social Contract’ with research participants on what they can expect from their interaction with data collectors and how their data will be kept secure and developing guidance on ethical considerations relating to inclusivity of data for research and statistics.
  • Initiatives to identify currently under-represented groups of people in data, including collaborative work between the ONS, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the devolved administrations to improve data on people not living in households.
  • Improvements to surveys and other data sources that will enable more granular analysis of specific groups and areas of the UK, such as boost samples and the creation of multi-year pooled datasets by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health and Social Care.
  • Feasibility work on how new data sources can be used to fill data gaps using data science techniques and international collaboration.
  • Improvements to data quality, for example, through the data improvement programmes of the Cabinet Office's Race Disparity Unit and Disability Unit.

A more detailed development plan will be published in January 2022 after further consultation within and outside government.

Chair of the Inclusive Data Taskforce, Dame Moira Gibb added:

"Our recommendations set out a path for making UK data much more inclusive and closing the gaps which currently exist in our data and evidence.

"Good and timely data is essential if we are to address the disparities and inequalities, such as those that Covid-19 has laid bare."

PSE will be hosting a Digital Transformation Virtual Festival on 14 October. Join us for the full day event by registering here.

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