This is the ODI response to the UK Statistics Authority Inclusive Data Consultation launched by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in January 2021.
The UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) is an independent body at arm’s length from government that provides professional oversight of the Government Statistical Service (GSS), and has exclusive responsibility for its two executive arms, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR).
The UKSA’s five-year strategy, Statistics for the Public Good (2020), states that it aims to produce ‘high quality data and analysis to inform the UK, improve lives and build the future’ and identified the need to ensure its statistics, analysis and workforce ‘reflect the experiences of everyone in our society so that everyone counts, and is counted, and no one is forgotten’.
In October 2020, the National Statistician, who is Chief Executive of UKSA and Head of GSS, established the Inclusive Data Taskforce with a brief to improve the UK’s inclusive data holdings. In January 2021 the ONS launched a consultation asking for views on data inclusivity in the UK, to help support the work of the Taskforce. The findings of this review will be considered by the Inclusive Data Taskforce in making their recommendations to the National Statistician on what needs to change in future and how this can be achieved.
Our full response to the ONS consultation is below. The key points we make are:
- Ensuring an inclusive approach to data matters. However, there are a number of areas where data is currently lacking, resulting in groups being excluded or discriminated against. It is vital that a systematic approach to proactively identifying and tackling data gaps is taken.
- Consistent processes for the collection of protected characteristics are needed and we recommend that the Taskforce work with government, regulators, and other bodies to produce robust guidance, standards and training on how to collect, use and publish data.
- Protected characteristics are complex, multidimensional concepts that intersect with other features. Data collection should take account of this complexity and be specific about what characteristics are actually being measured and why. Consideration also needs to be given to other characteristics such as socio-economic or regional characteristics that may be relevant.
- To make data more inclusive, it is important that those involved in collecting data, designing services and analysing results take a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to ‘data literacy’ that includes social awareness and emotional intelligence.
Read our full consultation response below.