Programme Related Questions
- What is the Beyond 2011 Programme?
- Why is it needed?
- When will it report?
- Why will it take so long?
- Is this being done to save money?
- Will there be another Census in England and Wales?
- What are Beyond 2011's plans?
- How will you know that the proposed solution will work?
- Will my personal information be safe?
- What safeguards are there to protect confidentiality?
- I have heard that you are planning to use health data. Why do you want this information?
- Have you thought about using data from social media like Facebook?
- Will you be using data from supermarkets, banks and credit agencies?
- Is the Beyond 2011 Programme able to use data from other organisations?
- How will you ensure that users' requirements are taken into account?
- What about people who want to investigate their family history or family tree?
- What steps will be taken to satisfy the requirements of social researchers?
The UK Statistics Authority established the Beyond 2011 Programme on 1st April 2011 to assess options for meeting future user needs for population and small area socio-demographic statistics in England and Wales.
During the first phase, running from 2011/12 to 2014/15, the programme will assess users' requirements and consider the best way of meeting these needs.
The outcome of this phase will be an evidence based recommendation which will consider the costs and benefits of each of the options considered.
The system for providing population and socio-demographic statistics makes use of information from a number of sources: a Census taken every ten years together with regular updates from surveys and administrative systems.
In recent years it has become more challenging and expensive to conduct censuses and household surveys and more difficult to respond to the increasing demands from users for more frequent and accurate population and socio-demographic statistics.
The Beyond 2011 Programme is a response to concerns expressed by both current and previous Governments about the accuracy and costs of current methods.
Whilst there was broad support for the need for the 2011 Census there are some concerns that census-taking in its current form may not be the right vehicle in the longer term.
A report setting out the recommendation arising from the first phase of the programme will be published in 2014.
A full business case underpinning the recommendation will set out the costs and benefits of the options considered.
In 2015, depending on continuing support, it would be expected that the programme would move into a second implementation phase.
This is a complex and challenging programme. The recommendation that will be made could potentially transform the basis for providing population and small area socio-demographic statistics in the future.
The strengths and weaknesses of each and every option must be thoroughly tested and evaluated.
Any decision to change the current basis for producing population and socio-demographic statistics will have far reaching implications for central and local government and for other users including those from the commercial, academic, charitable and voluntary sectors. The Office for National Statistics must be sure that any recommendation it makes can provide a robust, acceptable and cost effective way of meeting users' requirements.
Any recommendation we make must offer value for money.
The costs associated with each option will need to be considered alongside other factors including the ability to meet user's requirements and the quality of the expected outputs.
We shall need to produce a comprehensive cost benefit analysis which in conjunction with the evaluation of each option will inform decisions on our final recommendation.
At this stage it is too early to know whether or not there will be another Census in England and Wales.
All the signs are that the 2011 Census in England and Wales has been a great success. Nonetheless in common with many other countries there are concerns that the Census is becoming increasingly costly and difficult to carry out.
A more mobile population and the increasingly complex ways in which people live are making the process of census taking more and more challenging.
If there are no feasible alternatives it may be necessary to use a census-type model in 2021. However, it is unlikely that this would be like the traditional census count carried out in 2011. For example, it is likely that increasing reliance would be placed on internet data collection as opposed to the distribution of questionnaires to every household.
Users will be consulted before any recommendation is made.
Current plans are designed to support a detailed programme of research as well as comprehensive engagement and consultation with key stakeholders and users.
Research work will be focused on testing and evaluating a range of options including:-
census-type options - based around conducting a complete enumeration of the population either at a point in time for the whole country or for selected geographical areas over a period of time. Among the options being considered are a traditional census, a rolling census, a short and long form census and a short form census plus continuous survey;
administrative data options - would consider the use of both aggregate and record level data from a variety of administrative sources. While administrative sources would be used to produce initial population counts, surveys would provide details on socio-demographic attributes with potential for including more information from administrative sources in the future;
survey option - data from an address register would be combined with a survey to estimate the population and its characteristics.
Effective stakeholder engagement and consultation will enable the programme to:-
develop a clear understanding of users' requirements and priorities;
understand the relative importance of accuracy, frequency and geography as well as the overall value of population and small area socio-demographic statistics;
take account of any issues of special concern.
Individual options will be subject to careful research and testing.
All options will be assessed equally and transparently using an agreed set of criteria in order to ensure that they are capable of meeting users' requirements, providing population and socio-demographic statistics of the required quality and are publicly acceptable.
Our stakeholder engagement and communication plans are designed to ensure that users, stakeholders and all those with an interest in the programme have a clear understanding of the work we are doing, our research findings, evaluation results, decision making processes and procedures.
We are committed to providing clear and accessible information on progress and emerging plans on a regular basis.
The safety of personal information is of paramount importance to the Office for National Statistics. We have stringent procedures in place to protect confidentiality and safeguard the security of personal information.
The information will be used for statistical and research purposes only.
Any sharing of personal information must comply with the law relating to confidentiality, data protection and human rights.
The UK Statistics Authority's Code of Practice for Official Statistics 2009 is designed to ensure that no information about an identifiable person, household or family is disclosed.
The Beyond 2011 Programme will be using a wide range of datasets in its research. Whilst these datasets contain little personal data beyond name, address and date of birth, bringing together such a range of datasets for the first time in ONS raises questions relating to personal privacy. To reduce such concerns whilst the research progresses, ONS has put in place methods to anonymise all personal identifiers in all datasets used by the Beyond 2011 Programme, in such a way that no names, dates of birth or addresses can be identified.
The Beyond 2011 Programme must comply with the law and we have strict procedures in place to protect the confidentiality of all the data that we use.
If anyone fails to follow these procedures they would be liable to prosecution and, if found guilty, could be sentenced to a term of imprisonment, or a fine, or both.
All those working for the Office for National Statistics are required to uphold the confidentiality safeguards set out in the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 as well as the Data Protection Act 1998.
The Beyond 2011 Programme is planning to make use of basic information on the location and characteristics of patients. However, no sensitive medical or health related data will be disclosed.
This information is essential for research to test specific administrative options and evaluate whether they can, or cannot, provide population and socio-demographic statistics of the required quality.
We are aware of the potential of social media like Facebook and have not ruled out using information from such sources in the future.
The suitability, acceptability and legality of using such data would need to be checked and confirmed before any detailed work could proceed.
Our current view is that there are better, more reliable public sources available at present.
The Office for National Statistics does not have access to personal information held by supermarkets, banks, credit agencies or similar organisations.
In view of the increasing amount of data held by private companies and commercial concerns we have a duty to assess whether or not this could contribute to our programme of research.
The Beyond 2011 Programme is considering whether or not aggregate data (summary information) from such organisations could help with the research work we are doing.
Yes but only in cases where we have the legal authority to do so.
The Beyond 2011 Programme has had to obtain Ministerial consent and Parliamentary approval to make use of data held by public authorities such as the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Education.
The data can only be used for specified statistical purposes which in the case of the Beyond 2011 Programme is research to assess options for meeting future user needs for population and small area socio-demographic statistics.
Consultation with users is a key component of the Beyond 2011 Programme and will help to inform the assessment and evaluation of options as well as any final recommendation.
An initial public consultation took place between October 2011 and January 2012 which included a series of workshops and the publication of an online questionnaire seeking information from users about their information requirements and priorities as well as details on the relative importance of accuracy, frequency and geography for the production of population and socio-demographic statistics.
The report of this consultation is available here (1.14 Mb Pdf) .
This initial consultation will be followed by more detailed and focused discussions with users and key stakeholders.
A second public consultation will take place in 2013 to seek comments on the leading options and their relative merits.
We would encourage all those with an interest in population and small area socio-demographic statistics to let us have their views on this important piece of work
We understand the importance of census information to genealogists and those with an interest in family history.
We shall be seeking advice about these specific requirements as part of our user consultation.
Such requirements will be considered and prioritised alongside other user needs in our options assessment.
We shall be seeking advice from academics and other social researchers about their specific requirements.
In addition the Beyond 2011 Programme will make use of the evidence collected by the Science and Technology Committee as part of their recent inquiry on the census and social science research.
Any recommendation will be based on a clear and comprehensive understanding of user requirements and priorities.