Dame Julia Cleverdon (Chair)
Tina Chui (Statistics Canada)
Dr Evelyn Collins (former Equality Commission for Northern Ireland)
Professor Jenny Gibson (University of Cambridge, Nesta)
Professor Anthony Heath (University of Oxford)
Ifeoluwa Ishola, on behalf of Uzo Iwobi (Race Council Cymru)
Lela Kogbara (Black Thrive Global)
Si Chun Lam (West Midlands Combined Authority)
Professor Tom Shakespeare (LSHTM)
Professor Shannon Vallor (University of Edinburgh)
Dr Milly Zimeta (Former Director of Policy, Open Data Institute)
Sam Freedman (Institute for Government)
1. Welcome and introductions
The Chair welcomed members to the fifth meeting of the NSIDAC, noting apologies from Sam Freedman and welcoming Ifeoluwa Ishola (attending on behalf of Uzo Iwobi from Race Council Cymru).
The Chair opened the discussion by canvassing opinion on the progress of the Committee to date. She encouraged members to reflect on the Committee’s aims and remit, and to consider if anything could be done differently. To this end, members praised the work and thinking which has been done in the inclusive data space thus far. However, members also highlighted current fiscal and resource constraints, and noted the importance of ensuring meetings are structured to enable their feedback to be of greatest benefit and added value.
Members also suggested items that the Committee could focus on in future, including: the importance of intersectionality and those who may be left behind; the need to engage with local actors and authorities to understand the impact of more inclusive data; the importance of making data accessible to diverse communities, as well as representative of them; and the need to take stock and identify groups who are most under-represented, for example disabled young people from minoritised ethnic groups.
The Chair briefly noted updates on the action log, and Debra Prestwood (ONS) suggested members could reach out if they would like further information on any of the actions.
IDSE team to table an agenda item for the October meeting, allowing the Committee to take stock of progress, and further discuss where changes could be made.
2. Cross-Government Inclusive Data Sub-Committee (IDSC)
Debra Prestwood (ONS) presented an update on the inaugural meeting of the Cross Government Statistical Service (GSS) Inclusive Data Sub-Committee (IDSC), which took place on the 19 May 2023. The IDSC consists of senior civil servants from across 13 government departments and the devolved administrations bought together to meet quarterly as a committee, chaired by Liz McKeown.
At the inaugural meeting, IDSC members stated the inclusive data priorities in their organisations and identified opportunities for increased collaboration across the statistical system. NSIDAC members reviewed these stated priorities and raised concerns of vagueness and called for further clarity here. IDSC members should be encouraged to provide a more detailed update on their organisational inclusive data priorities at their next meeting, as well as on key inclusive data achievements and commitments.
At the next meeting of the IDSC, ONS agreed to provide more clarity on their role in convening and monitoring work on the IDTF Implementation Plan, the primarily goals of which are to provide opportunities for collaboration in the inclusive data space and to help overcome barriers to progress.
An item on data for children and young people’s (CYP) considered at the IDSC meeting was also highlighted, including their questions about responsibilities for ensuring inclusivity of data when services are outsourced, and concerns around data sharing and accountability in these instances. They identified the following groups as at risk of being under-represented in data:
- young people who are excluded from school,
- home-schooled children and those attending non-registered schools, and
- children in young people’s homes.
NSIDAC members also raised the importance of focusing on families and the household income for children and young people at risk of disadvantage and expressed an interest in conducting a deep dive on children and young people’s data at a future NSIDAC meeting.
To conclude the discussion about the IDSC, NSIDAC members discussed the importance of a communications strategy in boosting awareness of, and engagement with, the ongoing work to make data more inclusive. It was suggested this could include publishing the log of resources shared through NSIDAC meetings on the UK Statistics Authority website area, as well as blogs and thought pieces.
Chair to send a note to Brett Wigdortz regarding data sharing in the private services for CYP sector.
Secretariat to circulate the slides from the IDSC meeting, and members to reflect on priorities for CYP data and how these could be addressed.
Secretariat to consider the Comms strategy for the inclusive data work, and to share this with Committee members when ready.
3. The Future of Population and Migration Statistics in England and Wales
Becky Tinsley (ONS) provided an overview of the work that has been undertaken to produce population, migration and social statistics using administrative data, and the resulting consultation on the proposals for transforming these statistics. Becky guided members through the research and evidence base for this work and discussed their engagement with other stakeholders in the equalities space so far.
A discussion was then facilitated on the various risks and opportunities presented by the proposals, which included:
- concerns around current gaps in administrative data sources, particularly for protected characteristics groups outlined in the Equality Act 2010 as well as lack of granularity for those characteristics which are captured (e.g. ethnicity). Members were keen to understand more about prioritisation for addressing these gaps;
- the positive potential for this work to provide updated data for some population groups earlier than 2033 (when the next census outputs would be expected), with members also highlighting the importance of considering how the data may be used if it is released more frequently but with less contextualisation or analysis;
- the difficulty of obtaining data on topics that relate to sentiment (such as wellbeing, belonging, experience of discrimination) from admin data, with members suggesting consideration of using social media or other sentiment data to reduce the response burden of surveys;
- the role the census currently plays in evaluating and understanding the representativeness of other key surveys such as the Labour Force Survey, with members questioning how this could be achieved in the absence of a census;
- the importance of public engagement and addressing concerns people may have about how their data is used, particularly amongst some marginalised groups. Members were interested in how the transformation and consultation work has been publicised, with particular interest in young people’s views.
During discussions it was outlined that the proposals were developed in response to the 2014 government ambition that censuses after 2021 use “other sources of data and [provide] more timely statistical information”. It was emphasised that the possibility for a 2031 census has not been ruled out, and that the consultation will inform a recommendation to government on the progress towards this ambition. It was also clarified that a register-based system to monitor the population and migration as used in other countries isn’t part of the ONS proposals and would be a separate issue for the government to consider. Members were encouraged to share any data sources they were aware of that could be used to produce statistics within the scope of the consultation. It was also reinforced that the ONS is not proposing that admin data should be the sole source of data for population and social statistics, and it is expected there will still be a key role for surveys.
Members asked about the Equality Impact Assessment. ONS colleagues advised that this has been published and will be updated following the consultation to incorporate the feedback received.
Tina Chui also shared insights from Canada’s approach, which involves undertaking a census every 5 rather than 10 years, although she highlighted that not all questions are asked at every census. Even with this frequency, there is still a lot of population change resulting in a user need for more timely data.
Further resources were highlighted which address some of the points raised during discussions. It was agreed that the Committee would benefit from a further, more in-depth, discussion ahead of the consultation closing to inform the Committee’s response.
NSIDAC members to submit a joint response to the National Statistician in light of the Consultation on the Future of Population and Migration Statistics in England and Wales.
Secretariat to arrange an extraordinary meeting of the NSIDAC in September to discuss the consultation (and engagement with it) in more detail.
NSIDAC members to share details of any additional data sources that could be used to produce statistics within the scope of the consultation.
ONS to share the Equality Impact Assessment for the proposals in the consultation document with NSIDAC members for comment.
4. Feedback on the Annual Review
Dawn Snape (ONS) provided an overview of the first annual review of progress to deliver the Inclusive Data Taskforce (IDTF) implementation plan which was published at the end of May. Dawn outlined the context and purpose of the review, highlighting five key initiatives expected to have an important impact on improving inclusivity of UK data and evidence:
- the development and promotion of harmonised standards and guidance
- being ‘Inclusive by design’ in surveys
- better use of admin data
- transformation of population, migration and social statistics
- the development and expansion of the Integrated Data Service
Members welcomed the review, acknowledging that there is a lot of exciting and positive progress. However, they also recognised the challenge posed by the current fiscal climate and the importance of having system-wide agreement on the importance of inclusivity, with the Committee expressing support for ONS efforts in this area.
Members acknowledged the importance of the ‘big five’ initiatives but highlighted the importance of understanding how these relate to and build trust, as this will be important to ensuring there is no need for a further taskforce. Members expressed an interest in understanding more around what the trust in ONS is, and how it compares across government. Liz McKeown (ONS) suggested that this highlights there is a sixth big initiative around engaging people in the use of data.
5. Forward agenda items
This item was not discussed due to time constraints. Members are invited to share any views on future agenda items with the convening team.
6. Any other business
Nothing was raised due to time constraints.
An extraordinary meeting has been arranged for 26 September, with the next formal meeting on 31 October.
The papers that informed this board meeting are attached as a PDF document for transparency. If you would like an accessible version of the attached papers, please contact us at email@example.com