Inclusive Data Principle 4

Improve the UK data infrastructure to enable robust and reliable disaggregation and intersectional analysis across the full range of relevant groups and populations, and at differing levels of geography.

Our approach

We are developing a range of strategies to improve the UK data infrastructure and fill data gaps to provide more granular data through new or boosted surveys and data linkage to enable better intersectional analysis.

The development of the Integrated Data Service (IDS) by ONS as a tool to enable improved data linkage and intersectional analysis across government and wider organisations will play a key role in improving UK data infrastructure. ONS is developing the IDS to significantly improve and increase access to, and use of, data from across the UK, by analysts in UK Government Departments, Devolved Administrations, the National Health Service (NHS) and Local Authorities. This service is designed to enable quick and convenient access to researchers, while protecting confidentiality of data subjects at all times, using extensive technical and operational controls, and robust and transparent governance.

Current and planned work

  • By Spring 2022, ONS will develop a workplan in response to the GSS Subnational Data Strategy to enable robust and reliable disaggregation and intersectional analysis to be undertaken at differing levels of geography.
  • From October 2022, ONS will increase the sample size of its Labour Market Survey, which, alongside the work to monitor and address its representativeness, will improve its granularity.
  • The Cabinet Office’s Race Disparity Unit will work with other government departments and organisations to improve the granularity of ethnicity data, including reducing the amount of data published (only) for White and Other than White. The Cabinet Office’s Race Disparity Unit will also encourage other public sector bodies to avoid use of the term ‘BAME’, as part of commitments set out in the RDU Quality Improvement Plan. By May 2022 a review of the granularity of existing datasets will have been completed which will lead to recommendations to departments about increasing granularity through 2022 and 2023.
  • Department for Education will begin voluntary collection of Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan data at the level of the child instead of aggregate Local Authority level data, in January 2022. This will enable more in-depth analysis to be carried out and potential for data to be matched to other relevant datasets, to facilitate greater understanding of policy issues related to children with Special Educational Needs. First publication of data and mandatory collection will begin in 2023.
  • The Welsh Government’s Equality Data Unit (WG EDU) will look to strengthen equality evidence (qualitative and quantitative) to address inequality in Wales. Intersectionality is at the heart of WG EDU evidence. The WG EDU will be looking to deliver evidence to support the areas identified with the Wales Strategic Equality Plan and the LGBTQ+ Action Plan, to give a more complete picture of evidence for various small populations and disadvantaged groups across Wales, including people with characteristics protected under the 2010 Equality Act such as LGBTQ+, gender and age. The Unit will be established in 2022, developing its programme and mapping existing evidence. In 2023, the initial high priority analysis will be delivered, and key research projects will begin.
  • The Welsh Government’s Disability Disparity Unit (WG DDU) will look to strengthen evidence on disabled people (qualitative and quantitative) to address inequality in Wales. The WG DDU will work with the Disability Taskforce to provide ad-hoc evidence on request to support the Disability Action Plan and to provide a more complete picture of evidence that represents various disabled communities across Wales. The Unit will be established in 2022, developing its programme and mapping existing evidence on disabled people. In 2023, the initial high priority analysis will be delivered, and key research projects will begin.
  • The Welsh Government’s Race Disparity Unit (WG RDU) will look to strengthen ethnicity evidence (qualitative and quantitative) to address inequality in Wales. The WG RDU will work with the REAP Accountability Group to provide ad-hoc evidence on request to support the Race Equality Action Plan and to provide a more complete picture of evidence that represents various ethnic communities across Wales. The WG RDU will be established in 2022, developing its programme and mapping existing evidence on ethnicity. In 2023, the initial high priority analysis will be delivered, and key research projects will begin.
  • Welsh Government will explore the potential to combine multiple years of data from the National Survey for Wales to enable more detailed sub-group analysis. During 2022, the survey content for 2023 to 2024 will be decided.
  • Department for Work and Pensions will boost the sample of the Family Resources Survey to allow more robust income analysis at regional level, and to support more detailed analysis of smaller groups of interest to policy makers such as ethnicity. Following a partial boost from October 2021 to March 2022, the full boost will be introduced in April 2022, with publication of estimates using the boosted sample in 2024 and ongoing for future years.
  • Welsh Government will improve evidence on socio-economic status and by different protected characteristics in Wales following the sample boost to the Family Resources Survey in Wales.
  • Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will explore the feasibility of merging multiple years of Community Life Survey (CLS) data to produce a pooled dataset to facilitate greater analysis of sub-groups. They will also explore the feasibility of producing small area estimates to increase the potential for analysis of smaller geographical areas. This work will be carried out during 2022. The sample size for the Participation Survey will also be increased in 2021/22 to enable estimates to be produced at a lower level of geography.

  • The Cabinet Office’s Government Equalities Office (part of the Equality Hub) is partnering with ONS to deliver its Equality Data Programme. In the initial phase of work, it will use existing data to explore how people’s outcomes vary by different dimensions of equality (including geography and socio-economic background). This work will deliver analyses across a range of outcomes controlling for multiple characteristics including (where available) age, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socio-economic background and geography. Initial analyses will be published in 2022.
  • The second phase of the Equality Data Programme will be to develop a linked dataset (the Equality Data Asset) through the Integrated Data Service, bringing together a range of record level, longitudinal datasets held across government, enabling more in-depth intersectional analysis and exploration of how people’s lifepaths vary by different dimensions of equality. Over the course of 2022, processes to acquire initial datasets will be well-established, with an ongoing programme of work to develop the Asset and explore options to enhance the breadth and richness of data on equalities and outcomes over subsequent years.
  • ONS is undertaking a range of work using linked datasets to enable more granular and intersectional analysis, including: exploring social mobility and the relationship between education and earnings mobility, investigating the educational and care background of the prison population, and using the Growing Up in England dataset to understand the characteristics, social care experiences and educational outcomes of vulnerable children. This work will take place during 2022 and 2023.
  • ONS will undertake intersectional analysis using the 2021 Census for England and Wales and will collaborate with National Records of Scotland and Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency to consider the provision of UK-wide analysis from the censuses across the UK.
  • ONS will provide intersectional analysis of the drivers of knowledge and skills acquisition across the lifespan as part of the publication of the human capital indicator framework in 2023 to enable evidence on how differing groups evolve differently during their lives.
  • The Office for Students will develop and publish a set of intersectional measures to improve the understanding of the outcomes different groups are likely to experience across the student lifecycle, including access to, and continuation in, higher education. These will be developed in 2022, with ongoing publication of measures going forward.
  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission will undertake a range of intersectional analyses in relation to the labour market, poverty and health as part of the next iteration of ‘Is Britain fairer?’ which will be published in 2023.

  • ONS is developing a flexible table builder as part of the release of the results of the 2021 Census for England and Wales to enable users to select the characteristics of interest to build their own tables, subject to statistical disclosure controls, enabling the exploration of intersectionalities. These user tools will be published during 2022 and 2023.
  • Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has published a support needs dashboard from the statutory homelessness dataset (HCLIC) which allows the identification of the most prevalent co-occurring support needs in the homelessness population. The content of this output will be reviewed, and improvements made as required with publication of an updated dashboard in 2022.

  • ONS will explore the feasibility of oversampling in certain areas as part of our work to establish the feasibility of a responsive data collection design. This will be either at the sampling stage (oversampling to address specific data gaps), at the collection stage (targeting collection towards under-represented groups), or a combination of both.
  • HMRC will continue to explore the potential of the annual Individuals, Small Business and Agents (ISBA) Survey to provide insight on customers with different personal characteristics, initially by combining survey years to increase sample size, but if sample size continues to be a barrier, options and costs for over-sampling certain groups will be considered. Analysis of customers with protected characteristics from combining ISBA survey years will be undertaken in 2022, followed by consideration of the need for over-sampling of under-represented groups in 2023.
  • The Department for Education Parent, Pupil and Learner Panel Survey will use targeted oversampling of under-represented groups, including those who are Free School Meals (FSM) eligible, those with Special Educational Needs and Disability status, and those with Children In Need status, to fill existing gaps in understanding of these groups. Research has been commissioned across the 2021-22 and 2022-23 academic years and will likely be re-commissioned in future years.
  • Department for Education Children of the 2020s cohort study and Pupils of the 2020s cohort study, part of the Education and Outcomes Panel Studies (EOPS), will follow children from 9 months to 5 years of age and from early in their primary education (Year 1 or 2) until the end of primary school (Year 6) respectively. Both studies will include targeted oversampling of disadvantaged groups, to better understand the relationship between attainment, disadvantage and a range of personal and household characteristics. Both studies will be set up and piloted during 2021/22 with fieldwork and delivery of the data from the first wave in 2022/23, and subsequent waves in the following 3 years.

  • ONS is undertaking extensive engagement and research activities to ensure that the recommendations of the Inclusive Data Taskforce are taken into account in developing the National Statistician’s recommendation on the future of the census and population statistics.

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