The UK statistical system works best when there is collaboration between statistical producers – we maximise the value of data when we join up publications on the same topic to present a rounded and coherent picture. In this post, Debra Prestwood explains the latest work being undertaken across government bodies to provide the public with coherent and accessible statistics where there are multiple producers.
It has been a strong year for statistical collaboration across Government and, as we launch our plans for the year ahead, we look back at what we have achieved in 2022.
We have continued to focus on topics of national priority. Housing continues to be of huge interest and in November we published a UK-wide dataset for newly built dwellings in the UK right down to the local authority level. This allows for UK wide comparisons for the first time which was previously not possible. More information is available in the Government Statistical Service housing and homelessness statistics 2022 to 2023 work plans. These set out the priorities to improve statistics, offering the opportunity for stakeholders to review and feedback on our plans.
In responding to the war in Ukraine, there has been extensive collaboration between the Home Office, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and devolved administrations in publishing information on the Ukraine sponsorship scheme by country and region. This work has helped inform and support Government interventions to ensure the most pressing issues are addressed with fresh insight.
We have also worked together across the statistical system in responding to the recommendations of the National Statistician’s Inclusive Data Taskforce. To improve the inclusiveness of UK data and evidence, we have collaborated to provide a response to the findings and an implementation plan.
New data are being collected and assembled UK-wide from the outset
The COVID-19 pandemic emphasised the value of coherent statistics and there continues to be strong interest in UK-wide data. To capitalise on this, we have agreed priority areas for new UK-wide datasets. This work was driven by ONS, the devolved administrations and DLUHC.
New UK-wide datasets will be created in high-priority areas of shared interest across UK administrations. These are largely around understanding economic recovery post pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. They include transport connectivity, trade, smoking, and additions to dwelling stock. We are also tackling barriers to coherent UK wide data which include methodological and technical differences, capacity and prioritisation.
Engaging with users and building statistical capability
In the summer we undertook qualitative research with UK-wide data users on where coherence could be improved. We published our findings in October 2022. This research showed users found great value in bringing together data – in helping them answer policy questions and gain greater insight. These findings were common across users from a range of different policy areas and different parts of the UK.
We will use publication of this work programme to expand our engagement with stakeholders and users. We’re also committed to raising the profile of coherence so that it is automatically considered when government analysts bring together data. We are running training for government analysts, with over 600 analysts across the Civil Service trained to date.
New technologies can enable faster and wider collaborative analysis
A major innovation during the past year has been the launch of the first stage of the Integrated Data Service (IDS), a cloud-based platform giving accredited analysts and researchers greater access to data from a range of sources.
The IDS powers the UK Climate Change Statistics Portal which provides an overview dashboard, explainer articles and a data explorer. The portal demonstrates the power of bringing high-quality data, statistics and analysis together, making them easier to access and more usable by policymakers and the public. We will work with the IDS Programme to help ensure we engender a culture of coherent analysis. Our Subnational indicators explorer is another example of new ways to presenting data to enable greater transparency, this time focusing on the UK subnational level.
We have set out much more detail in the update of our Government Statistical Service Government Coherence Programme, published today. This sets out the initiatives taking place to help make sure our statistics are joined up and offer a coherent picture of the UK. We first published this work programme in 2021 and this update is designed to provide an overview of our latest achievements and developments. We also want people who use our statistics to give us feedback on priorities and ask questions.
As issues and needs emerge across society and the economy, the UK statistical system needs to keep pace and adapt. One way we will do this is to ensure we focus on providing a joined up and coherent picture of the UK.
We welcome feedback from our users on our GSS Coherence Work Programme to make sure that our work focuses on their needs and highest priorities. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.