1. Access to unpublished ONS research data by government organisations for statistical research
Office for National Statistics (ONS) collects and publishes statistics on the economy, population and society using information from a range of sources including surveys (for example, social surveys such as the Labour Force Survey and Wealth and Assets Survey) and administrative data. However, there are times when it is not possible to openly publish data because of the risk of disclosing information that breaches respondent confidentiality. To manage access to this research data, ONS has rigorous arrangements in place to protect the confidentiality of data subjects by ensuring that the data, researcher, research projects, access to the data and the research outputs are all safe.
UK government departments, local authorities and other approved organisations may apply for access to detailed, de-identified, record-level data collected by ONS, for research purposes, where permitted by the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 (SRSA) or other legislation. Details of the data that can be accessed, the relevant legislation and all current use are set out on these pages and in the downloads section.Back to table of contents
3. Ministerial directions
Office for National Statistics (ONS) grants access to information from the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) and its business surveys, to UK government ministerial departments under the terms of a ministerial direction.
Disclosure of data via ministerial direction is permitted under provisions within the Statistics of Trade Act 1947 (STA). The STA permits the use of these data by government departments, to help understand economic trends, provide a statistical service for industry and for the purposes of the development, production and dissemination of official statistics and/or statistical research in compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.
Applications for access to the IDBR and/or ONS business survey data under the terms of a ministerial direction, are considered by the Microdata Release Panel (MRP). If approved, a Data Access Agreement is put in place to set out the conditions of access.
A list of the government departments with a ministerial direction is published in the downloads section.Back to table of contents
4. Local development plans
Local development plans (or frameworks) are spatial planning strategies produced by district and local councils (in England and Northern Ireland), principal area councils (in Wales), or one of four Strategic Development Planning Authorities (in Scotland).
The legislation granting local bodies the authority to develop these plans is the Employment and Training Act 1973 (ETA, as amended by the Employment Act 1988). Specific provisions within this legislation enable local authorities access to some variables from the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR), including the names and addresses of local businesses, the number of people employed, the nature of the business (Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) 2003, SIC 2007), local authority ward code and middle super output area layer code.
Applications for access to the limited IDBR data from local planning authorities for the purpose of producing a local development plan, are considered by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Microdata Release Panel (MRP). A list of all authorities with access to this data in 2017, is published in the downloads section.
Applications to access data that is not explicitly permitted by these arrangements, including all use by researchers outside of government, can be made through the ONS Approved Researcher Scheme.Back to table of contents