Public value of statistics on Housing and Planning in the UK

Housing matters and it affects all citizens in the UK. Official statistics on housing and planning play a vital role in helping to inform decision-making of all kinds.

This review and its findings are focussed on the user perspective. We’ve heard a number of users’ views across the UK on the value of these statistics, and how well they meet their needs. This perspective – based on feedback from over 60 users across 43 organisations – has allowed us to build a picture about the statistical landscape for this topic, and the necessary drivers needed to improve these statistics to increase their public value. Value means that the data and statistics are easy to use, remain relevant, and benefit society, helping the public to understand important issues and answer key questions.

Overall, the topic of housing and planning appears to be well served by an impressive volume of official statistics. Our report highlights a number of areas of good practice in statistical production from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We have also identified opportunities for improvements to the statistical landscape at two levels: firstly, improvements to statistical outputs can help shine a light on society’s evolving questions about housing and planning in the UK. Secondly, more strategic coordination and collaboration between statistics producers across the UK, as well as greater engagement with users, can help drive improvements in outputs.

We think that starting from the users’ perspective is an essential prerequisite to improvements. This review provides a user-based stocktake, and it is therefore the starting point for these improvements. We welcome statistics producers being open to feedback and willing to listen to these views. We would be very happy to help facilitate changes, and to that end will continue to engage with producers and users of these statistics.


Conference: Putting users’ needs at the heart of improving health and social care statistics

This conference was held on Tuesday 28 November, 10am to 4pm, in central London.


Official statistics are extremely important because they help us answer key questions, for example, on the performance and quality of health and social care services, or about the health of the population. With this information judgements and decisions made by the public, government, and health and care services can be made and debated. In 2015, as the statistics regulator, we asked statisticians in England to improve the coherence and accessibility of health and social care statistics. Statisticians have been working to respond to this request, their activity is outlined here.

We are holding this conference to bring together users and statisticians to discuss improvements in the coherence and accessibility of official health and social care statistics, and to discuss what needs to happen next. This event mainly focuses on English statistics, but there will be two breakout sessions to discuss the work focusing on UK healthcare quality indicators.

Statistics discussed at this conference are those associated with measuring:

  • Maternal and child health
  • Smoking
  • Mental health, including dementia
  • UK health and care
  • Health inequalities
  • Adult social care
  • NHS workforce
  • Primary health care

How to sign up

If your organisation wants to discuss what has been happening, and what needs to happen next, to improve the coherence and accessibility of health and social care statistics in England, please let us know: In this email let us know what topic (as listed above) you would like to discuss on the day.

There are many people using health and social care statistics, and we would like a wide range of users to be represented but have limited space– so we recommend sending one representative per organisation. If you would like to send more than one, please let us know, we will try to accommodate your request based on the spaces left.

More about the event

Time: 10.00 to 16.00

Venue: Central London, address to be confirmed in your invitation.



10.00RegistrationTea and coffee will be available from 9.30.
10.30 to 10.45Morning introductionEd Humpherson, Director General, Office for Statistics Regulation
10.45 to 11.45Session 1: What changes to statistics have users noticed?A brief overview presented by the chairs of the English Health and Social Care Statistics Steering Group and the Four Nations Statistics Group.

The remaining part of the session will involve facilitated group discussions for your chosen topic area. Statisticians and users will discuss what changes users have noticed and what producers are planning to do to improve health and social care statistics in that topic area.
11.45Refreshment break
12:00 to 13:00Session 2: What key questions still need to be answered? Brief talks from a user representative and from statisticians working in Scotland , highlighting that the value of statistics comes from answering pertinent questions.

The remaining part of the session will involve facilitated group discussions for your chosen topic area. Statisticians and users will discuss what government statisticians could be doing to improve the insight provided by health and social care statistics. We are asking users to think in advance about what key questions to bring to this session.
13:00 to 13.45Lunch
Please let know if you have any food preferences or restrictions.
13:45 to 14:30Key note address:
“The challenge of communicating statistics, and the importance of working with audiences”
Professor David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk in the Statistical Laboratory at Cambridge University

There will be opportunity for questions for Professor Spiegelhalter.
14:30 to 15:30Session 3: Panel discussion: what next? Confirmed panellists include representatives from:
Public Health England
NHS Digital
Office for National Statistics

Common issues arising from group discussions will be highlighted. There will be an opportunity to ask the Panel questions.
15:30 to 15:40Final thoughtsEd Humpherson, Director General, Office for Statistics Regulation
15:40 to 16:00Closing remarksIain Bell, Deputy National Statistician for Population and Public Policy, Office for National Statistics

Agenda as a printable PDF (176kb)


Information for attendees

  • Lunch is provided, but please let know if you have any food preferences or restrictions.
  • Please let us know what topic of health and social care statistics you would like to discuss on the day.
  • We would like you to think about the gaps in your information needs – the key questions that official statistics can’t answer clearly at the moment – and also about how not knowing the answers to these questions is impacting the debate and decisions made around health and social care. We encourage you to think about the topic you are discussing on the day, but also bring along gaps in health and social care information so that we can feed these points back to statisticians. This preparation will be used in session two of the day.

For those who want to contribute, but can’t attend this event, send us an email with your thoughts or the health and social care team at the Office for Statistics Regulation would be happy to meet with you to discuss.

Roundtable meeting: Opportunities for sharing and linking data

Statistics on crime and on justice are used a lot — inside and outside of government —but more could be done to look at crime and justice from the perspective of its effect on people and organisations. Increasing the extent of sharing and linking data enable these perspectives, uncovering new insight and increasing the value of statistics that tell us about crime and justice.This was the focus of the London round table. It brought together attendees from the Home Office, Ministry of Justice and the Office for National Statistics to explore how they might work together to share and link crime and justice data in England and Wales. All three of the producer organisations gave examples of where they had previously linked data and clearly see the benefit of doing more of this work in the future. The participants had a productive discussion to identify where they could use linkage of data — including linking to data beyond crime and justice — to improving value. The ideas generated will require further work and prioritisation and the three organisations agreed to put together ideas for data sharing and linking over the next few months.

Read the notes for this roundtable here

Roundtable meeting: Sharing information on crime statistics across the UK

Crime statistics are well used and highly valued across the UK by people and organisations inside and outside of government. Producer organisations’ resources are stretched at a time when information needs are increasingly complex. This meeting brought together representatives from the UK’s main crime statistics producer organisations. Its aim was to explore opportunities to share information and facilitate joint working to help ensure that crime statistics keep up with ever-changing developments in the real world. We heard that meetings to discuss technical ‘nuts and bolts’ issues take place as the need arises and are highly valued. However, opportunities to hold similar conversations about more strategic issues are rarer, and welcome. There will continue to be changes to technology and society that crime statistics need to reflect and we encourage producer organisations across the UK to make opportunities to meet regularly and at a strategic level.

Read the notes from this round table here

Summary of the second Health and Care Round Table

In December 2016 the Office for Statistics Regulation convened the second Round Table meeting, where many of the leaders of the English health and care system discussed how to move forward with the agenda of improving English health and care statistics to better serve the public good. You can read the summary of this meeting here.  A third Round Table took place in March 2017.

Related links:

Summary of the first Round Table

Summary of the third Round Table


Better Statistics Better Decisions Health and Care Summit

Following up our key Stakeholders Round Table, we ran the Better Statistics, Better Decisions Health and Care Summit, which was a platform for producers and users to shape the future landscape for English health and care statistics together. A compelling vision for an improved system providing high quality statistics underpinning better decisions inside and outside of public administration was set out. Participants in the Summit enthusiastically embraced this vision. Links to a note taken from the Health and Care Summit along with Ed Humpherson’s summary of the strategic issues that these events highlighted, presentations from the Summit and an attendee listing are given below.

We are following up these Health and Care events in a number of ways. We:

  • Publicly invite those who attended the Summit to be key ambassadors for taking forward initiatives to tackle these strategic issues back in their own organisations
  • Support the drive to address these issues
  • Are reconvening the Round Table and play back the proceedings from the Summit
  • Are liaising with main statistics producers and asking them to create action plans, which would have the status of voluntary enhancements. Over time we will monitor progress against these action plans and consider regulatory action if progress is insufficient or too slow
  • Invite people to reconvene in a year’s time to take stock; the planning for this will start later this year.

Health and care statistics producers now convene through an English Health Statistics Steering Group to effect greater coordination of their activities. Ed Humpherson is writing to these producers commissioning a joint action plan, which the English Health Statistics Steering Group will coordinate.

The RSS has also asked the Statistics Authority to contribute to a session on Health and Care Statistics – What is the Future? at its Conference between 5th and 8th as part of our public support of producers’ initiatives to enhance health and care statistics. We continue to meet with the key bodies to establish what further activity we as regulators of official statistics need to take.

Related Links:

HCI Terms of Reference

Director General for Regulation’s Summary of Strategic Issues highlighted by the Health and Care Summit

Note of the Health and Care Summit

Presentations from the Health and Care Summit:

Ed Humpherson Keynote Address

A local government perspective – Juliet Whitworth

Mind’s use of data – Stephen Buckley

Collaborating to maximise impact – Jamie Jenkins

UK Health Accounts – James Lewis

PHE and local authorities – Kate Sweeney and Andy Baker



Summary of the first Health and Care Round Table

In February 2016 the UK Statistics Authority convened a meeting – a Round Table – of many of the leaders of the English health and care system to discuss how English health and care statistics could be enhanced to better serve the public good: how the statistics might be improved, in order to support better decision making.

Health and Care Statistics in England – The Statistics Authority’s direction of travel summarises the outcomes of the Round Table.

There was support for the UK Statistics Authority’s strategy for UK Statistics – Better Statistics, Better Decisions – which starts from the independence and professionalism of statisticians as the essential pre-requisite to trustworthiness, and looks for systems of statistics which then demonstrate the following attributes:  Helpful;  Innovative;  Professional;  Efficient; Capable.

The Round Table agreed that at its best the health and care statistical system in England satisfies these criteria but concluded that generally the service provided for users by the decentralised system was incoherent and inconsistent. You can read the summary of the first Round Table here.


List of Annexes

Annex A – Round table attendees

Annex B – updated version of the Health and Care Statistics Landscape  (some internal links do not open with Internet Explorer, please use an alternative browser)

Annex C – February 2016 Health and Social Care Statistics List

Annex D – Health round table paper

Related Links

Second Round Table

Third Round Table

Coherence and Accessibility of Official Income and Earnings Statistics

In July 2015, the UK Statistics Authority held an event for over 100 key stakeholders on the Coherence and Accessibility of Official Statistics on Income and Earnings.

This event was hosted by Ed Humpherson, the Director General of Regulation and John Pullinger, the National Statistician, as part of our review into this area.

The event followed the Authority’s published review into this area which considered the way in which official statistics about income and earnings, and their components, are presented, with a particular focus on:

  • Coherence – the extent to which official statistics drawn from different sources, and about different components of income and earnings, complement one another; also, whether there are any significant gaps in the statistical picture.
  • Accessibility – the extent to which users of official statistics on income and earnings are able to find, understand and use the statistics; and whether related statistics are presented in ways that help users to understand the interrelationships.

The main purpose of the event was to consider how official statistics on income and earnings can better serve the public good in the future. The event was designed for statistics producers from the Government Statistical Service to present to the audience about recent and proposed changes and improvements to income and earnings statistics, and provided an opportunity for the audience to provide feedback on whether the proposals were in line with their expectations, and prioritised appropriately. The event also included speakers from the Resolution Foundation, Full Fact and the New Policy Institute.

The key themes raised were:

  • Timely data on self-employment income was a key gap.
  • There was recognition that this was a complex area with lots of different statistics and lots of different users needs, and it would be wrong to over-simplify and combine sources without considering the different user needs.
  • The increased timeliness of statistics from surveys would increase their value.
  • While the UK perspective was important it was essential that devolved administrations were not forgotten, and the need for regional and local statistics.
  • The need for more collaboration and raising awareness between statistics producers and expertise outside government.

We are in the process of requesting updates from statistics producers about further progress relating to the Review’s recommendations, and plan to publish a formal update by the end of the year.

Crime Statistics Seminar

In June 2015, the UK Statistics Authority hosted a crime statistics event in London as part of the Better Statistics Better Decisions stakeholder and event strategy.

This event focused on ‘what improvements can be made within the existing crime statistics framework, and how we might begin to capture crimes that currently fall outside the scope of this framework’.

The event attracted over a hundred policy-makers and opinion formers from across the public and private sectors, as well as media commentators, researchers, academics and analysts with an interest in crime statistics. The event was designed to gather important evidence to inform the Authority’s ongoing work in the area of crime statistics, developed on an understanding of the decisions that are being informed by crime data.

The event was opened by Sir Andrew Dilnot. Speakers and panellists included Mark Easton (BBC), Sir Tom Winsor (HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary), Chief Constable Sara Thornton (National Police Chiefs’ Council), Lisa Harker (NSPCC), Tim Newburn (LSE), Nick Ross (journalist and broadcaster), Ed Humpherson (Director General for Regulation, UK Statistics Authority), Sir Adrian Smith (Deputy Chair, UK Statistics Authority), Professor Sylvia Walby (University of Lancaster), Mandy Haeburn-Little (Director of Scottish Business Resilience Centre) and Adrian Leppard (Commissioner, City of London Police).

The event was concluded with reflections from Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve.

Many useful things came up at the event – with the need for us to have further discussions with relevant partners over issues such as:

  • Better measurements of cybercrime;
  • Better/more extensive use of victim surveys;
  • Joining up crime and criminal justice statistics to show flows though the criminal justice system;
  • Need for accurate police recorded crime data, while recognising that it will never provide a full picture of crime;
  • Need for move away from measuring police performance simply on the basis of recorded crime; and
  • Utilising new sources of data (e.g. from other crime agencies, private sector & big data).

We are in the process of having the required follow-up conversations with a range of key stakeholders and identifying ongoing priorities in this important statistical area.

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