Inclusive Data Principle 3

Ensure that all groups are robustly captured across key areas of life in UK data and review practices regularly.

Our Approach

We will build on existing work and develop new collaborative initiatives and action plans to improve inclusion of under-represented population groups in UK data in partnership with others across government and more widely.

The ONS Centre for Equalities and Inclusion will facilitate joining up across the planned initiatives through the Inter-Administration Committee and the GSS Analysis & Evaluation Committee, to ensure that groups are robustly captured, particularly those currently under-represented in UK data and evidence.

The new independent National Statistician’s advisory committee on inclusive data will advise the National Statistician on approaches and methods to improve the inclusion of under-represented groups.

Current and planned work

The ONS Centre for Equalities and Inclusion will play a convening role going forward in identifying and joining up initiatives. Current initiatives include:

  • ONS will compare the 2021 Census for England and Wales with relevant administrative data to assess the representativeness of different data sources and how best to ensure that more marginalised groups are included in statistics going forward. This work will contribute to the National Statistician’s recommendation on the future of the census and population statistics.
  • The Cabinet Office’s Equality Hub will undertake an analysis using data from the 2021 Census for England and Wales Non-Response Link Study to understand levels of non-response and non-response bias for different groups. This could be used to develop recommendations on reducing non-response for different groups. Options for analysis (whether to be carried out in-house or commissioned) will be considered in early 2023, with publication of an analytical report in late 2023.
  • The ONS-led Titchfield City Group on Ageing-related Statistics and Age-disaggregated Data will undertake work to assess the current evidence and data gaps in relation to age-disaggregated data, to provide recommendations to improve its collection. Workplans, scoping and assessment of the evidence will be undertaken between 2022 and 2024 with publication of the recommendations in 2025.
  • ONS will investigate the quality of ethnicity recording in key health administrative data sources in England and propose methods to account for any bias in the underlying data sources, collaborating with the Cabinet Office’s Equality Hub. ONS will explore with Welsh Government expanding this work to Wales. Findings from the initial research will be published in 2022, with scope for further work to be undertaken using the 2021 Census for England and Wales data in the future.
  • From October 2022 onwards, ONS will introduce representativeness as a key performance measure of its Labour Market Survey, continuously reviewing the representativeness and taking action to address any issues with under-representation.
  • ONS will benchmark the Crime Survey for England and Wales against the 2021 Census for England and Wales to assess its representativeness and consider the actions needed to address any issues found, through the new Crime and Justice Statistics Forum being launched in 2022.
  • ONS is investigating the feasibility of introducing responsive data collection into its operational design during 2022. This approach would involve targeting data collection towards under-represented groups to increase the presence of such groups in the data.
  • ONS will work with the Cabinet Office’s Equality Hub to explore the feasibility of developing data about the inclusivity of UK businesses. This includes working with data owners to encourage collection and production of business owner ethnicity statistics. The ONS Management Expectations Survey will begin collecting this information in 2023.
  • The Cabinet Office’s Equality Hub will review gaps in data and evidence for different population groups, and work with departments to fill these gaps, building on learning from the Race Disparity Unit’s Quality Improvement Plan and the Disability Data Improvement Programme. By summer 2022, data gaps for different topic areas will have been reviewed with plans developed to address these with relevant departments by August 2022. Work will continue over the next 3 years to address data gaps.
  • Welsh Government will take forward the research and data-related actions from the ‘Locked out: liberating disabled people’s lives and rights in Wales beyond COVID-19 report’. Areas where new research and data collections (including administrative data) will be needed have been identified and appropriate measures of progress are being considered with policy makers.
  • The UK Research and Innovation Prevention Research Partnership (UKRI PRP) funded Violence, Health and Society Consortium (VISION) (City, University of London) is working with Imkaan and University of Warwick academics to explore biases in terms of marginalised groups and possible ways to overcome these. They will produce policy recommendations and peer-review publications while engaging with policy makers.
  • Following publication of “Is Britain Fairer?” in 2023 the Equality and Human Rights Commission will revise its data gaps strategy to identify where key datasets and subjects used in their Measurement Framework do not have adequate coverage by protected characteristics, or poor and inconsistent sample sizes. Datasets will be reviewed during 2022 and 2023 with publication of the strategy in 2024 and inform any revisions of the Measurement Framework or future iterations of “Is Britain Fairer?”.
  • Departmental monitoring of response rates to surveys to ensure representativeness and take action to address any issues found will continue, for example the Department for Transport’s National Travel Survey.

  • In 2022 the Cabinet Office’s Disability Unit will initiate the Disability Data Improvement Programme to report on the quality of government departments’ data and related publications on disability and impairment, assessing their relevance to the lived experiences of disabled people, establishing ownership of disability data improvement, and identifying avenues for cross-government communication of disability data.
  • The Office for Students will work with the Higher Education Statistics Agency to enhance the collection of personal characteristics information from higher education students. Enhanced data collection will begin for academic year 2022-23, with statistical reporting of experiences and outcomes in 2024.
  • Scottish Government has carried out an equality data audit to assess the collection and publication of data on the nine protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010 across the organisation, focusing on a range of datasets, including those used to produce official and national statistics, administrative data, and ad hoc research datasets used to inform Ministerial decision-making. Improvement plans will be put in place in 2022.
  • Home Office will explore ways to improve the collection of personal characteristics data in all their data collections, increasing awareness of the importance of collecting these data and fostering a greater commitment to collecting this at the outset of a system or process.
  • ONS is conducting research to better understand how data on personal characteristics is collected by data suppliers to highlight areas for improvement. Research will be complete by 2022 with the findings contributing to the National Statistician’s recommendation on the future of census and population statistics.
  • HMRC is exploring the feasibility of collecting information not currently routinely collected, on ethnicity and disability, for all new data collections. Feasibility work and recommendations will be complete in 2022.
  • The UK Research and Innovation Prevention Research Partnership (UKRI PRP) funded Violence, Health and Society Consortium (VISION) (City, University of London) will explore differences in sex, age and ethnic characteristics between different data sources and settings. It will also explore using multiple imputation with a view to correct potential biases. Initial engagement with data users and providers will take place during 2022 with the project continuing over the next three years.

  • A key feature of the ONS survey strategy is for joined up data acquisition which will ensure that we effectively meet user data needs by drawing on the complementary nature of our collective data sources including administrative and survey data. Where relevant the recommendations of the IDTF will guide our approach to ensuring that whatever the data source, we will put improved inclusion of under-represented population groups in UK data at the heart of our approach.
  • As part of the transformation of population and social statistics, ONS will add additional questions to household survey sources where required and operationally feasible to gather data on protected characteristics where there is no or limited potential in administrative data.
  • During 2022, HMRC will carry out a scoping study to assess the feasibility and affordability of collecting protected characteristic data through large scale surveys for specific customer groups, to gain insight into the makeup and experiences of these customers.
  • In 2022/23 the Cabinet Office’s Disability Unit will implement a survey of disabled people across the UK focused on lived experiences and barriers faced, to better understand the experiences of disabled people in society and inform targeted policy making and the evaluation of the National Disability Strategy.

  • As part of the transformation of population and social statistics, ONS is working with others, including the devolved administrations, to develop a statistical system to integrate administrative sources, census and survey data. This will produce more timely population estimates and will aim to capture relevant characteristics to support analysis. The transformed system will make the best use of available and developing data sources to meet user needs for an inclusive statistics system. The system will be designed and built in 2022, with its progress and future developments reflected in the National Statistician’s recommendation on the future of the census and population statistics.
  • The Home Office will continue to work with ONS and other government departments to facilitate secure and appropriate access to the administrative data needed to understand migration, including enabling relevant and necessary linkage work.
  • Feasibility research is underway at ONS to identify ways of producing more timely administrative data-based population estimates by ethnicity, using a range of data sources, including multivariate analysis across protected characteristics, using administrative data.

  • In 2022, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, jointly with ONS, are scoping out work to estimate populations not resident in private households and understand their experiences in relation to the general population. This includes work to look at people sleeping rough and in hostels and shelters. It is expected work will continue beyond 2022.
  • During 2022, ONS will undertake a review of existing data sources on communal establishments across UK countries, with a particular focus on understanding how people with protected characteristics are captured within these sources. The review will identify relevant data gaps and priority areas for improvement.
  • ONS is investigating the coverage of populations living in communal establishments across England and Wales from administrative data to assess the ability to capture them in admin-based population estimates in future. In 2022, research will be undertaken to identify how non-private households and their residents are reflected in administrative data and could be incorporated into methods for producing admin-based population estimates to feed into the National Statistician’s recommendation on the future of the census and population statistics. Work will continue beyond the recommendations.
  • ONS will carry out research into the value of, and how best to collect survey data from populations not resident in private households, including those living in Communal Establishments, when necessary. This work will take place during the first half of 2022 and will include integrating lessons learned from the 2021 Census for England and Wales.
  • Welsh Government is exploring the introduction of individual-level homelessness data collection to enable a greater understanding of the situations of those who find themselves at risk of homelessness and enable improved evaluation of homelessness prevention measures. During 2022, the feasibility and success of collecting these data from pilot Local Authorities will be assessed to determine the viability of rolling it out across other Local Authorities in subsequent years.

  • ONS will be publishing a roadmap for its new Survey Strategy early in the 2022/23 financial year. Being inclusive by design is at the centre of our vision for surveys and we will engage and consult on any proposed strategic changes that will be made to the existing social survey portfolio. A consultation on changes to Travel & Tourism statistics has just finished and ONS will have responded to all feedback by the end of March 2022.
  • As part of the work to develop the National Statistician’s recommendation on the future of the census and population statistics, ONS will undertake extensive user engagement during 2022 and 2023 to ensure diverse data needs of different users inform the development of the collection and acquisition of data and the production of new statistical outputs in the future transformed system.
  • Building on the existing Covid Infection Survey Analysis user groups for key stakeholders across UK government and the Devolved Administrations, ONS will set up similar user groups for academic users to ensure engagement and their feedback informs future plans.
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will develop a User Engagement Strategy to increase focus on user engagement in their statistics. The Strategy will be developed during 2022.
  • Department for Communities (DfC) is leading on the development of the new social inclusion strategies for the Northern Ireland Executive, including a Disability Strategy, Gender Equality Strategy and Sexual Orientation/LGBTQI+ Strategy. While DfC is leading strategy development they are cross-Executive strategies which Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) will feed into. Any data development projects will form part of the action plans associated with these strategies.
  • The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) will diversify research participants in the studies they support and the voices of those who shape their research agenda, by extending their reach to include communities where their research will make the biggest difference, and involve a broad range of patients, public and carers at every step.
  • Scottish Government will engage with equality stakeholder organisations to develop a new Equality Evidence Strategy for 2023-25. Work will take place throughout 2022 with the publication of the strategy in 2023.
  • Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has refreshed its Fuel Poverty Strategy in line with user needs and will continue to publish fuel poverty statistics using updated metrics which more fairly reflect the fuel poverty status.
  • Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities have produced a range of new outputs from the statutory homelessness dataset (HCLIC) to meet user needs around the flows through the system of specific subgroups, including rough sleepers and those aged 18-20 leaving custody and care. User needs will be reviewed in advance of the next publication in Autumn 2022 to ensure reporting reflects groups that are the highest priority.

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