Leaving no one behind – How can we be more inclusive in our data?

In January Dame Moira Gibb shared the news of the recently established Inclusive Data Taskforce. These experts will advise the National Statistician on how to ensure our statistics reflect the experiences of everyone in society. In today’s blog, Dawn Snape provides an update on the work of the Taskforce so far and what to expect next. 

The aim of the Inclusive Data Taskforce is to provide a blueprint for radically improving the inclusivity of UK data and evidence. With such an ambitious goal in mind, the taskforce wanted to be sure they listened to as wide a range of views as possible about what’s working and what needs improvement in our current data and evidence. This led to the launch of a programme of consultation and engagement activities asking how we can ensure that everyone in our society counts, is counted, and no one is forgotten.

Listening and learning

With that in mind, the first quarter of 2021 could aptly be described as a mission to listen to and learn from organisations, groups and individuals with an interest in inclusive statistics and evidence. This has taken us on a virtual tour of the UK and posed some interesting challenges in ensuring everyone was able to be included in our consultation during a UK-wide lockdown.

As a first step, in early January, ONS launched an online consultation on behalf of the Taskforce seeking views about the inclusivity of UK data and evidence, including areas for improvement as well as examples of good practice.

We’ve had a great response so far and really appreciate so many people and organisations taking the time to respond. The consultation will remain open until March 26th and we’re keen to hear from as many people as possible.

We have also been conducting roundtable discussions and in-depth interviews with representatives of the Devolved Administrations, local authorities, central government, academics and think tanks to explore questions about inclusivity and representation.

This has included a focus on specific gaps in the inclusiveness of data; successes and struggles in being inclusive in data collection, analysis and presentation; barriers to achieving more inclusive data; impacts of not having fully inclusive data; and steps that could be taken to improve inclusivity.

We have also commissioned research exploring the views of civil society organisations on inclusiveness of UK data and evidence, how well current evidence meets their needs, and what could be improved.

Discussions are also underway with people from a range of protected characteristics groups to consider lived experiences and their views about how well they and their communities are currently represented in facts and figures about the UK.

For those who may be at greater risk of digital exclusion and less able to participate in online interviews and focus groups, a paper-based consultation is also planned. Capturing the views of people at risk of digital exclusion is important not only to ensuring the inclusivity of the consultation activities, but also because so much research has been conducted online during the pandemic.

Alongside the consultation work undertaken by ONS, other organisations have also organised roundtable discussions to share further ideas with the Taskforce for which we are extremely grateful.

What’s next?

The Taskforce is meeting monthly to discuss submissions on the current state of data, statistics and analysis. As each strand of the consultation is completed, the Taskforce plans to use these findings to inform their understanding of how inclusive UK data and evidence are now and what’s possible for the future.

They will consider all the evidence gathered in making their formal recommendations to the National Statistician, expected in the summer of 2021.

How can you help?

We would welcome any suggestions about where to make improvements and what is currently working well, and you can share your thoughts and suggestions via the online consultation.

If you would like to get in touch directly, please email the Taskforce at Inclusive.Data.Taskforce@ons.gov.uk. For further information about the Taskforce and its members please click here.

Dawn Snape is Assistant Director of the Sustainability and Inequalities Division at ONS