Latest – 16 May 2016:

Report: Annual assessment of ONS's progress towards an Administrative Data Census post-2021

This report describes what we mean by an Administrative Data Census, highlighting key challenges and how to address them. Using a set of evaluation criteria, the report delivers ONS’s first assessment of our ability to move to an Administrative Data Census in the next decade.


ONS’s Administrative Data Census Project was set up to assess whether the Government’s stated ambition that ‘censuses after 2021 be conducted using other sources of data’ can be realised.

What this report covers

In order to produce the type of information that is collected by a ten-yearly census (on housing, households and people), this report says that an Administrative Data Census will require a combination of:

  • access to record-level administrative data held by Government
  • a population coverage survey
  • a population characteristics survey

The following would need to be in place to enable ONS to move to an Administrative Data Census:

  1. rapid access to existing and new data sources
  2. ability to link data efficiently and accurately
  3. ability to produce statistical outputs that meet priority information needs of users
  4. acceptability to key stakeholders
  5. value for money

ONS used these high-level criteria to assess our current progress and where we expect the assessment to be by 2023 – see table below:

Current (2016) and future expected (by 2023) high-level assessment

Where are we now? (2016) Where do we expect to be in 2023?
Access to data Red/Amber Amber/Green
Ability to link Amber Green
Ability to meet information needs of users Population estimates Amber Green
Households and families Red/Amber Amber/Green
Housing characteristics Amber Green
Population characteristics Red/Amber Amber
Acceptability to stakeholders Red/Amber Amber/Green
Value for Money Amber Amber/Green

This assessment is supported by evidence and a description of what ONS will do to improve these red/amber/green ratings. The report also has two annexes:

  • Annex A provides an update on the acquisition of administrative data
  • Annex B presents more detailed evaluation criteria that, after further development, will be used to carry out the assessment in future years

Download the Annual assessment of ONS’s progress towards an Administrative Data Census post-2021