Inclusive Data Principle 5

Ensure appropriateness and clarity over the concepts being measured across all data collected.  

Our Approach

We are developing plans to address known issues with existing standards and guidance in measuring concepts related to inclusion, as well as cross-government collaborative work to improve statistical coherence (see Inclusive Data Principle 7). ONS will maintain oversight of the initiatives across UK government and the devolved administrations to improve Government Statistical Service (GSS) guidance on data definitions and standards; facilitate collaboration and sharing of best practice; and promote the GSS harmonised standards and guidance.

A GSS Harmonisation Plan will be published by ONS in early 2022, setting out the plans and timescales for review and updating of the current GSS harmonised standards and guidance for the collection of data on equality characteristics. It will cover different data collection modes including face-to-face interviewing, telephone and online collection.

Current and planned work

  • ONS will keep abreast of Office for Statistics Regulation guidance relevant to inclusion and encourage its wider adoption across government and the four nations.
  • Welsh Government will investigate developing evidence that is in line with the social model of disability from 2022.
  • As part of ongoing work to better understand the socio-economic background of the Civil Service workforce, Cabinet Office will work with organisations to better understand drivers behind existing response rates, with the aim of publishing socio-economic background information on the Civil Service workforce as part of the annual Civil Service Statistics publication.

  • A GSS Harmonisation Plan will be published by ONS in early 2022, setting out the plans and timescales for review and updating of the current GSS harmonised standards and guidance.
  • ONS will take a respondent centric approach to the end-to-end design of all its surveys. The work that has been done already that has adopted this approach will be consolidated and shared with users, and will guide the strategy design, roadmap, and future survey collection. This will mean that the survey experience will be relatable, understandable, and appropriate for respondents.
  • Cabinet Office’s Equality Hub Digital Team will work with policy and analysis colleagues, to ensure that the principles of accessibility, user testing and content design are applied to writing surveys and consultation questions.
  • The Cabinet Office’s Disability Unit (DU) will develop its survey of disabled people across the UK working with ONS and other stakeholders, and experts on the lived experiences of disabled people, to ensure conceptual understanding of the information required and undertaking extensive testing to ensure its accessibility and the generation of appropriate data.
  • Scottish Government will update guidance on data collection and question wording to be used for collecting equality data.  This new guidance, likely to be based on Census 2022 questions or existing ONS harmonisation standards, will be rolled out across the public sector in Scotland during 2022.
  • The design of the Department for Education’s 6-weekly panel survey of school and college teachers and leaders, the School and College Panel (SCP), will continue to be based on engagement with policy teams to commission questions to be included which are based on a clear rationale of the departmental need and thorough scrutiny. Where possible the survey will use existing standardised questions with new questions based on design best practice and cognitive testing to ensure a final product that is easy to understand and relevant for the sector. The survey is currently commissioned across the 2021-22 and 2022-23 academic years and will likely be re-commissioned in future years.
  • The design of the Department for Transport’s National Travel Survey will continue to be overseen by professional statisticians and operated by an experienced contractor on behalf of the Department and new questions will continue to be tested before adding to the survey.
  • Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will continue to work closely with the local authority Central and Local Information Partnership (CLIP) groups to review any new data requirements and carry out suitability testing in advance of going live.

  • Following consultation with the Cabinet Office’s Equality Hub and the devolved administrations, the GSS Harmonisation Plan will be published by ONS in early 2022, setting out the plans and timescales for review and updating of the current GSS harmonised standards and guidance.
  • The Government Analysis Function Diversity & Inclusion Create working group will extend their Inclusion Toolkit for analytical teams to include a section on inclusive analysis best practice, providing resources to support clarity in the reporting of inclusivity. The toolkit will be refreshed in 2022 and then updated every 6 months on an ongoing basis.
  • ONS, through the Inter Administration Committee and other relevant fora, will facilitate identification across UK government and the devolved administrations of initiatives to make improvements in clarity of language, share best practice and adopt harmonised standards where possible. Initiatives include:
    • The Northern Ireland Executive will produce guidance on monitoring ethnic populations to provide a standardised framework to help public bodies collect information in a consistent but flexible manner, improving service delivery and equality for different ethnic and migrant populations living in Northern Ireland. Guidance to be considered during 2022, with implementation subject to agreement by the end of 2022.
    • Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will continueto review questionnaires and provide clarification where needed, continuing to use harmonised measures and ensure statistics are reported accurately.
    • ONS will work with communities, other government departments and academics to ensure clarity and appropriateness in the language used in the publishing of outputs and analysis from the 2021 Census for England and Wales.
    • During 2022, Scottish Government will be supporting Scottish bodies to implement changes following the release of guidance on the collection of sex, gender and trans status data issued in September 2021. This will be taken into account as part of the GSS Harmonisation Review.
    • Home Office will review data standards in the Police Uplift Programme to ensure clarity over language usage at the point of data collection, particularly around sex and gender, enabling greater clarity in reporting. The next review will take place in early 2022.
    • Welsh Government will review the use of the terms sex and gender in data collections and analysis to ensure consistency, clarity and inclusivity across use in Welsh Government.
    • The Office for Students will ensure greater clarity in publications over how data have been collected and the use of the terms sex and gender to ensure users understand the characteristics that are being reported.
    • Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities have recently reviewed and amended the definitions of sex and gender in the statutory homelessness dataset (HCLIC) in order to better represent non-binary groups. Data collection using new definitions will be introduced in April 2022 with publication based on these definitions from 2023 onwards.

  • In 2022, HMRC will commission a review of official statistics metadata and where necessary improve published information about how data have been collected in official statistics publications.
  • In 2022, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will review documentation that accompanies survey publications to ensure metadata are provided for users to assess the quality and suitability of data.
  • ONS will ensure that appropriate metadata will accompany all outputs from the 2021 Census for England and Wales, including in relation to sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, national identity, language and religion, providing clarity to users around how the data have been collected and aggregated. Publications will be delivered during 2022 and 2023, with scope for additional publications during 2023 and 2024 subject to user needs.
  • ONS will ensure that all publications based on its Labour Market Survey are accompanied by key relevant survey information, including, but not limited to, proxy use, response by mode and response rates.
  • ONS is undertaking an ongoing assessment of the quality of administrative sources that are being used to transform ONS’s population and social statistics. This will generate metadata that will help producers and users to understand the strengths and limitations of the administrative sources. There will be ongoing releases and updates to metadata and quality reports during 2022 and 2023.
  • Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will continue to publish a range of metadata to support published outputs including quality reports highlighting methods used and other relevant information.

Back to top
Download PDF version (1.09 MB)