Our new strategy, Statistics for the Public Good, sets out our plan to be radical and ambitious in our drive to provide high quality data to inform the UK, improve lives and build for the future.

As set out in our previous work, while the census provides granular data at the lowest levels of geography every 10 years, the quality of our population estimates declines as we move further away from the census year.

In 2021, our population, migration and social statistics systems will continue to meet our users' needs largely through the census, supplemented by increased use of other sources of data.

Moving forward, we are working to put administrative data at the core of our population, migration and social statistics systems. Our aspiration is to be as radical and ambitious as possible to improve the inclusivity, quality, frequency, relevance, coherence, accessibility and timeliness of these core statistics.

Our population and migration statistics system transformation overview sets out:

  • our progress since our last update in January 2020 and how our plans have evolved because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

  • our approach for delivering new measures of migration based on administrative data from November 2020 onwards following the suspension of International Passenger Survey (IPS) in March 2020

  • our latest progress towards an activity-based method for our admin-based population estimates

  • a summary of recent updates on our population and migration statistics and research

In addition to the work outlined in this article on transforming the population and migration statistics system, a similar programme of work is underway to transform the way we produce social statistics to better meet the needs of our users and to produce the best statistics from all the available data. 

Since our progress report in January 2020, we have published research on housing characteristics using Valuation Office Agency data, including how we can provide information on property type, property floor space and estimates of overcrowding.

We will make a recommendation on the future of the Census and population statistics in 2023. We will publish further updates in 2021 on our progress and our path to the recommendation, including the opportunities for users and stakeholders to get involved and provide feedback. You can also register for email updates about our work or, or email us at SDR.Stakeholder.Engagement@ons.gov.uk.

Previous - 30 January 2020:

Population and social statistics transformation: 2019 progress update

This report sets out our progress towards our aims to transform our statistical system to provide the best insights on population, migration and society using a range of new and existing data sources to meet the needs of our users.

In 2021, we will continue to meet these needs largely through the census, while also increasing our use of other sources of data. As set out in our previous work on the Administrative Data Census project, the census provides granular data at low levels of geography every 10 years. However, our census-based system delivers less detail throughout the interim years.

Therefore, we are working to put administrative data at the heart of our population, migration and social statistics systems. Enabled by data-sharing powers in the Digital Economy Act 2017 and guided by our data security principles, we are using the opportunity to make use of more data to give us a much richer understanding of how our population is changing.

Our last report, in June 2018, assessed our progress using criteria designed to measure our ability to move towards an Administrative Data Census. As the opportunities from integrating data have grown and the scope of our transformation journey has broadened, these criteria are no longer able to reflect the progress we are making across our work. Therefore, this year we have reported our progress while we continue to review how we will regularly update our users on our progress ahead of the National Statistician's recommendation on the future of the census in 2023.

If you have any suggestions or feedback, please email SDR.Stakeholder.Engagement@ons.gov.uk.

You can find out more about our progress in our Latest update on our population and migration statistics transformation journey and Research on administrative data-based statistics.