Introduction

Why was the Inclusive Data Taskforce established?

A year ago, the National Statistician convened an independent taskforce to recommend how best to make a step-change in the inclusivity of UK data and evidence. This followed publication of Statistics for the Public Good, the strategic vision of the UK Statistics Authority which aims to ensure that everyone in the UK counts and is counted, and no one is left behind.

Taskforce members, chaired by Dame Moira Gibb, comprise of a diverse group of senior academics and civil society leaders with wide ranging expertise across equalities topics, methodologies, geographies, and data ethics.

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What did we aim to achieve?

We were asked to consider four important questions, the answers to which form the basis of our recommendations to the National Statistician:

  • How can we improve inclusiveness in our approach to the collection, analysis and reporting of data and evidence?
  • How can we make most effective use of existing data, such as administrative, census and survey data to understand equalities and inclusion?
  • What are the critical data gaps that hinder our understanding of equalities and inclusion and how can we address them?
  • How can we build on our own and others’ experiences in improving our approach to equalities and inclusion going forward?
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What did we do?

Over a 9-month period, we set ourselves an ambitious programme of engagement activities to listen and learn. This included conversations with those who may be asked to participate in research and share their data with researchers and with those who collect or use data and evidence. We heard from people across all four countries of the UK through a range of consultation activities carried out between January and May of 2021 including:

  • a 12-week online open consultation on CitizenSpace
  • seven roundtable discussions and six in-depth interviews with central and local government representatives, and those in the devolved nations
  • four roundtable discussions and two in-depth interviews with academics and representatives of learned societies
  • discussions with over 80 civil society leaders working in 15 different equalities areas
  • discussions with over 90 members of the public with lived experience of equalities issues

Participants were drawn from a range of backgrounds and were selected based on the equalities work that currently takes place. Consultation events were held online, as they took place during the pandemic, when face-to-face meetings were restricted. To ensure we heard from people who may be less able to access the internet, we also did a paper-based consultation by post with those at risk of digital exclusion. Other groups and organisations invited us to events that they organised to contribute their perspectives to the consultation. These included:

  • a round table discussion organised by people identifying as Sikh
  • a round table discussion organised by people identifying as Muslim
  • an event organised by the Open Data Institute
  • an event organised by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

During our monthly meetings, we considered papers and presentations on a wide range of topics relating to inclusive data and evidence. Some of these we commissioned ourselves on topics we felt were important to learn more about, while others were contributed by people wanting to bring their work to our attention.

We are very grateful to all those who shared their views and experiences with us and have tried to do justice to the wealth of information gathered in our recommendations for the way forward. For those interested in having a more detailed look at the findings from each of the consultation activities, they have been published separately and are available to view online. Links to each report can be found in the supporting evidence section.

This report is also available in Welsh.

A summary version of this report is available in English, Welsh and easy read format.

Easy Read versions of this report are also available in Welsh, Polish, Romanian, Punjabi, Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic and Farsi. If you require another format, please let us know at equalities@ons.gov.uk or call 0800 298 5313.

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Our report and recommendations

We have carefully considered all the evidence gathered in developing our recommendations and this report summarises many of the issues people raised with us. Throughout the consultation activities and the evidence received during our meetings, it became clear that the step-change we need towards more inclusive data and evidence will require:

  • development of a strong culture of trust and trustworthiness, recognising the need to ensure confidence in data collection both of those sharing their data and those using data for the public good
  • a system-wide approach and real commitment to being more inclusive in what is measured and how, who is engaged with, widening access to data and evidence, and improving the accuracy of the insights produced to better reflect people’s lives
  • clarity about what inclusivity means in practice, to ensure data and evidence comprehensively and reliably reflect our society, now and as it evolves

The taskforce aimed to be as inclusive as possible in considering needs across the four countries of the UK. There are different legislative frameworks in place across the UK and we have been mindful of this in how we refer to populations and groups of interest in relation to equalities and inclusion data and evidence. The taskforce has focused on a wide range of populations and groups that may be at greater risk of disadvantage, discrimination, or marginalisation, both generally and in our statistical picture of the UK. This has included:

  • those with characteristics protected under the Equality Act (2010) which applies in England, Scotland and Wales
  • groups which feature in the Sustainable Development Goals as those are particularly important for disaggregation to ensure we leave no one behind
  • others not explicitly part of these frameworks, but whom we know to be under-represented in UK statistics and evidence such as residents of some types of communal establishments, non-private household populations more generally, and undocumented migrants

Throughout our report and recommendations, we have used “relevant groups and populations” to refer to the social groups and populations of participants who are the specific focus of our recommendations in relation to greater inclusivity of data collection, recording and reporting. This includes those with protected characteristics (in England, Wales and Scotland) and also refers to those groups completely missing from the data or for whom data are lacking or are of poor quality.

We also refer to “racialised groups”, or people considered to share characteristics that are assumed to be on the basis of shared “race”. The term “racialised” highlights the social nature, rather than biological foundation, of this assumption.

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