Local data at your fingertips

Local data is a precious commodity that not only allows people to understand more about the area in which they live but helps us identify the challenges and opportunities facing different communities, ultimately enabling better informed policies and decisions that benefit local areas. Sir Ian Diamond explains how the ONS has developed a new service that allows people to find, visualise, compare and download a wide range of these local data in one place. 

Empowering new insights in greater detail  

This time last year I set out our plan for the future of ONS economic statistics to the Royal Society. Enabling the users of statistics to explore our remarkable granular data to conduct their own hyperlocal analyses was, and remains, an important part of that vision. 

The new Explore Local Statistics journey we are launching today is an important service for everyone – from local and central government, devolved administrations, academia, the media, the private sector and all interested citizens seeking detailed insight on research topics. It will help to ensure local leaders and the teams that support them, have access to the data, statistics, and analysis they need to make evidence-based decisions. 

Following on from the launch of ONS Local, it also marks another landmark in the continuing delivery of our strategy for UK public data. 

Knowing where to find it 

While the ONS and other public bodies already gather a lot of local data that can give us all kinds of fascinating insights into different communities and geographic areas, these data aren’t always easy to find or combine, as they are published across many different websites and are often hidden within larger national datasets.  

The situation is further complicated by the complex and evolving landscape of statistical and administrative geographies and by the devolved nature of important policies, which might make it harder for users to find the data for the local area they are interested in. 

Despite these challenges, there is still significant demand for subnational statistics which is why we’ve created the new service. 

Explore local statistics Beta service  

Available through the ONS website, our new Explore local statistics Beta service allows you to see at a glance how a geographical area is doing on a range of indicators, how things have changed over time, and how it compares to other areas or the rest of the country. 

The service also lets you explore local statistics by indicator, giving you the option to delve into one topic across multiple areas, rather than focussing only on one area. Users can even compare their area of choice to other statistically similar areas, as the service incorporates local authority clustering analysis 

All of this is made possible by bringing together in one place a wealth of publicly available data sources published by ONS, other public bodies or Devolved Administrations. 

Supporting local decision making 

To complement what the service offers to local users, we have also established ONS Local, an analytical advisory service that supports local government across the English regions and the Devolved Administrations in accessing and making the best use of local data, and in identifying and filling local data gaps. 

Both ONS Local and the Explore local statistics service are part of an ambitious three-year project funded by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. As part of the project, we are also delivering a suite of new granular statistics, analysis, and place-based insight. Some recent successes of the project, and wider collaborations include: an interactive to explore house and rent prices in your local area; estimates of gross disposable household income (GDHI) at ‘building block’ level; and analysis on consumer spending habits on a local level. 

Next steps 

In addition to expanding the range of datasets available in the service, we also plan to make it more resilient by further automating the data gathering process.  

I want to take the opportunity to thank our colleagues across ONS, other public bodies, particularly the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and Devolved Administrations, for their continued support in delivering towards the Government Statistical Service subnational data strategy. We can expect some exciting developments in the future of subnational statistics! 

As this is a Beta service, thus still in development, your feedback is important to help us improve it, so head over to Explore local statistics and explore it for yourself!