Members Present

  • Professor David Hand (Chair)
  • Professor Paul Allin
  • Dame Kate Barker
  • Professor Paul Boyle
  • Robert Bumpstead
  • Professor Diane Coyle
  • Professor Sir Ian Diamond
  • Ed Humpherson
  • Professor Jane Falkingham
  • Professor David Martin
  • Professor Ann Phoenix
  • Stian Westlake

In attendance

  • Owen Brace
  • Roger Halliday (for item 2)
  • Liz McKeown (for item 4)

Secretariat

  • Fran Tovey
  • Simon Whitworth

Apologies

  • Dame Moira Gibb
  • Professor Ann Phoenix
  • Sir Bernard Silverman

1. Minutes and matters arising

  1. Members were welcomed to the meeting. Apologies were received from Moira Gibb, Ann Phoenix and Bernard Silverman. The minutes from the meeting of 26 July were agreed and all actions were reviewed.

2. Discussion with User

  1. Roger Halliday, Chief Executive Officer for Research Data Scotland (RDS) joined the meeting to reflect from his perspective as a previous producer of statistics, weaving in his reflections as a specific user. RDS processed and organised data to make it available for public analysis and research in secure ways for the public good. Roger gave examples of where thinking could be broadened to enhance how the Government Statistical Service (GSS) engaged with users. There were areas where data was not currently being utilised in the GSS, leading to gaps in understanding. Improved data would lead to improved understanding. GSS outputs should be for the public good and relevant to individual citizens, the Inclusive Data Taskforce (IDTF) would help improve this. Consistency in delivery across the GSS was important and broader thinking was needed around the range of outputs and investments made in data collection. Proactive user engagement was important, and evidence based stories should be communicated in a way that was relevant to the user.
  2. Members discussed how it was important to not only look at areas which were working well, but also areas that could be improved upon. User engagement and understanding of user wants needed to be improved by using all available tools. Enhanced user engagement would mean products could be developed to a higher level. The meeting discussed how GSS data could be more available and accessible to the public and the extent to which a social media strategy was able to reflect public trends. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) had been working on enabling disclosure control being built into the answers to questions to make them more accessible and offered to share the open access work with RDS when it was available, after funding had been secured.
  3. Members agreed that the right level of user engagement meant setting expectations on an ongoing basis and the GSS needed to be bolder in asking users what they would like.

3. Website Transformation [NSEUAC(22)07]

  1. Owen Brace presented a paper on the transformation of the ONS website estate, building on his previous update at the March National Statistician’s Expert User Advisory Committee (NSEUAC) meeting. The ONS website and underlying structure were bespoke built, rather than off the shelf products and a lot of work had been done to make improvements. Feedback on core needs showed that the website needed quick and easy access, but one size would not fit all. It was being considered how best to engage with users on specific products and how best to present data.
  2. Members discussed whether it was best to see a gradual and incremental improvement to existing systems, or a complete rebuild and agreed that the answer depended on resource and funding, but it was important to build a strong system with a good programme of delivery. The meeting discussed success measures and how website success could largely be measured by discoverability and ease of use. The website should play an important part in the way UK data was looked at. The ONS had liaised with other National Statistics organisations to discuss lessons learnt and ensure that the ONS brand was successful and professional.
  3. Members agreed that efforts to improve the website had largely been successful, but one size would not fit all. Users were categorised depending on how they interacted with data to provide accessibility in different ways to different audiences.

4. Inclusive Data Taskforce [NSEUAC(22)08]

  1. Liz McKeown provided an overview and progress update on the IDTF Implementation Plan which was delivering against the eight inclusive data principles. There had been a lot of progress since publication and the IDTF was working jointly across the GSS and UK Nations to improve harmonisation and coherence. Accessibility was important to make it easy for people to connect with their local data. The IDTF Implementation plan was progressing will and needed to be agile to new and emerging priorities and engagement with a wide range of users was integral.
  2. Members discussed how to address inequalities and users who found it difficult to navigate the user engagement system. The IDTF was working with cross civil society organisations to provide the richest possible data in order to look horizontally across different groups to consider how they were impacted. The meeting discussed how to prioritise data that did not already exist and where efforts should be directed, this was a challenging decision as presumptions may not reflect lived experiences. Insights would be drawn over time and approach to prioritising would eb refined.
  3. The meeting supported progress so far and endorsed plans for the next quarter, particularly around data gaps and the opportunity to be transformation in bringing inclusivity into the mainstream. A further IDTF update would be scheduled for the December NSEUAC meeting with a focus on the ONS Assembly which would formalise bringing together civil society groups, and user engagement with underrepresented communities and how that was being addressed.

ACTION: Liz McKeown and Owen Brace to suggest an external speaker to invite to a future NSEUAC meeting.

5. Forward Agenda

  1. The meeting discussed ideas for future items and members were asked to provide suggestions for future external speakers.
  2. Martin Weal or Paul Johnson were suggested as guest external speakers for the next meeting and the secretariat team would liaise with both to discuss availability. Other names considered for guest external speakers were James Nazroo, Andy Haldane, Chris Dibben, David Ford, Tony Dent, Dawn Snape, Emma Gordon and Ronan Lyons. Members agreed that it was beneficial to hear the challenges that users were facing in order to advise the National Statistician how best to address them.
  3. Members expressed their interest in hearing more detail about how the Integrated Data Service would work and Alison Pritchard would provide an update at the December NSEUAC meeting. Members also requested regular updates on Website Transformation and User Engagement. The Royal Statistical Society has been exploring the idea of Public Statistics and members agreed that they would like to explore the topic at a future meeting.
  4. The Chair asked members to consider issues of user engagement that were of particular concern to them and inform the Secretariat so that they could be collated ahead of the December NSEUAC meeting.

ACTION: Secretariat to invite Paul Johnson, or Martin Weal to the December NSEUAC meeting.

ACTION: All members to suggest a user engagement issue of concern. Secretariat to collate into a document for the December NSEUAC meeting.

6. Any other business

  1. The next meeting would take place on Tuesday 5 December 2022.