V1: Relevance to users

Users of statistics and data should be at the centre of statistical production; their needs should be understood, their views sought and acted on, and their use of statistics supported.


V1.1 Statistics producers should maintain and refresh their understanding of the use and potential use of the statistics and data. They should consider the ways in which the statistics might be used and the nature of the decisions that are or could be informed by them.

V1.2 Statistics producers should use appropriate ways to increase awareness of the statistics and data, communicate effectively with the widest possible audience, and support users and potential users in identifying relevant statistics to meet their needs.

V1.3 User satisfaction with the relevance and usefulness of the statistics and data should be reviewed routinely. This should consider the timeliness, accessibility, clarity and accuracy of the statistics and data.

V1.4 Statistics producers should engage publicly through a variety of means that are appropriate to the needs of different audiences and proportionate to the potential of the statistics to serve the public good. An open dialogue should be maintained using proactive formal and informal engagement to listen to the views of new and established contacts. Statistics producers should undertake public engagement collaboratively wherever possible, working in partnership with policy makers and other statistics producers to obtain the views of stakeholders.

V1.5 The views received from users, potential users and other stakeholders should be addressed, where practicable. Statistics producers should consider whether to produce new statistics to meet identified information gaps. Feedback should be provided to them about how their needs can and cannot be met, being transparent about reasons for the decisions made and any constraints.

V1.6 Statistics producers should periodically review whether to continue, discontinue, adapt or to provide the statistics through other means, in discussion with users and other stakeholders.

Case studies

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) produces Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation Measures (NIMDM). The measures are important for a variety of users and other stakeholders to (a) target resources to the most deprived areas, and (b) monitor the spatial impact of policy interventions. NISRA was commissioned to update the 2010 NIMDM. It created a User Engagement Strategy to understand the needs and views of users and stakeholders, and produced a video about its approach (also summarised in the text below):

NISRA collected user feedback following the NIMDM 2010 update including information on uses of MDM by NI Departments.  The MDM had been poorly understood with too much emphasis on overall MDM, rather than individual MDM domains. This led to recommendations for deprivation research which were taken forward for the 2017 update.

NISRA created seven expert groups – one for each deprivation domain – and an authoritative Steering Group.  The groups’ wide memberships ensured the needs of key stakeholders were represented. NISRA ran two public consultations on the output geography and the proposed methodology, accompanied by information sessions around NI. Users were alerted to these, with Facebook and Twitter used to reach a wider audience.

Consultation responses were analysed and presented to the Steering Group, who decided on the geography and final indicators,. A detailed consultation response covering every comment was also published.

NIMDM 2017 was published in November 2017, accompanied by a user friendly A5 booklet, an analysis package, an interactive map, and material for advanced users such as a methods paper, indicator data and metadata.

NISRA ran a series of dissemination events in collaboration with Government Departments and Councils, which reached 500 people. The team also ran training sessions for another 200 people and created a training video to reach a wider audience, such as those with restricted mobility. NISRA published updated recommendations, including details of previous areas that could not be addressed and new areas to reflect users’ changing needs.

These activities required considerable resource which was factored into the project and budget from the outset. They were deemed essential for informing users about what the measures are and what they can and can’t be used for, to improve understanding of MDM’s utility and value.

This example shows how NISRA engaged through a variety of means with a broad range of users and stakeholders to ensure their views were represented. NISRA was also transparent about its decisions concerning requests that could and couldn’t be met and actively engaged to improve awareness of the value and appropriate use of NIMDM 2017.

Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Government education team both produce statistics on young people in Scotland.

Scottish Government reports on school leaver destinations in its Initial destinations of Senior Phase School Leavers (official statistics) and Summary Statistics for Attainment, Leaver Destinations and Healthy Living (National Statistics) publications.

Skills Development Scotland produces its Annual Participation Measure for 16–19-year olds in Scotland which reports on the proportion of the 16-19 year old cohort, including those at school, who are in learning, training or work. Skills Development Scotland is not an official statistics producer at present; however, its statistics are produced in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

The team at Scottish Government recognised what might be perceived as a confusing landscape for users who may not be clear on which statistics to use for what purpose. They reviewed all the available statistics about school leaver destinations, and, with the support of Skills Development Scotland, ran a consultation to find out how the data are used and how users felt about proposals to reduce the duplication of statistics. As a result, they developed a long-term plan to reduce duplication and simplify the statistical landscape, which builds upon the progress made in recent years.

This demonstrates how producers can work collaboratively and engage with users to review and amend statistics provisions.

Guidance and resources

A webpage that brings together information and guidance on user engagement, including how to identify users, and why and how to engage with users.User engagement webpageGSS
A webpage that brings together guidance and resources on communicating statistics.Communicating statistics webpageGSS
Guidance that provides practical advice on how to communicate quality, uncertainty and change for different types of statistics and for a range of audiences.Communicating quality, uncertainty and changeGSS
Guidance that aims to help producers of statistics improve their statistical commentary.Writing about statisticsGSS
A blog about the work by the Department for Work and Pension’s (DWP) Client Statistics Branch to develop a variety of formats for releasing their statistics, to cover a wide range of users' needs.GSS blog: transforming the release of statistics in DWPGSS
A blog about Ofqual's statistics transformation programme in early 2017 to refresh its releases. The objectives were to make their statistics more engaging, informative and targeted to different types of users.GSS blog: Ofqual statistics transformation programmeGSS
The government has published a revised set of government consultation principles. These principles give clear guidance to government departments on conducting consultations.Guidance on public consultationsCabinet Office
Government Digital Service (GDS) guidance on using social media in the public sector. It aims to share GDS best practice.GDS Social Media PlaybookGDS
A tool developed by the Medical Research Council, Chief Scientist Office and the University of Glasgow that guides readers through a series of questions to help them to review and interpret published health research papers.Understanding Health Research toolMedical Research Council
A guide by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) that helps producers of statistics explain the sources and methods for producing statistics (metadata).Getting the Facts Right: A guide to presenting metadata (PDF, 19.78MB)UNECE