Latest – 23 July 2018:

Report: Annual assessment of ONS's progress on the Administrative Data Census

This report describes what we mean by an Administrative Data Census, highlighting the main challenges and how to address them. This report is the third assessment, using a set of evaluation criteria, of how we’ve progressed on our Administrative Data Census project.


Decision-makers (central and local government, businesses, charities, community groups and citizens) increasingly need better local data on the size and characteristics of their population to build better services such as transport links, schools, hospitals and housing.

In 2021, we’ll continue to meet this through the census. However, as the pace of change is increasing, decision-makers need this information much more frequently than every 10 years.

We’ve described the work to meet the need for more frequent information as an Administrative Data Census. Until now we’ve largely focused on the ability of administrative data and surveys to provide the information traditionally collected through questions on the decennial census. However, integrating data from a range of sources offers much wider potential to improve statistics on a variety of topics. These topics include:

  • fuel poverty

  • mental health

  • debt

  • crime

  • inequalities

  • ageing

  • migration

  • housing affordability and provision

The assessment presented here uses the same criteria and scope as those for 2016 and 2017 in terms of our ability to move towards an Administrative Data Census. We will be reviewing the structure of this assessment and the criteria in the coming year given the wider opportunities from integrating data.

What this report covers

This is our third assessment of our progress on the Administrative Data Census project. The assessment is made against five main criteria:

  1. rapid access to new and existing data sources

  2. the ability to link data efficiently and accurately

  3. methods to produce statistical outputs that meet priority information needs of users

  4. acceptability to stakeholders

  5. value for money

You can find further information on what an Administrative Data Census is and the evaluation criteria we’ve used in our previous assessments from 2016 (PDF, 763KB) and 2017.

Figure 1 shows this year’s assessment alongside the previous assessments. This year we have added a “next steps” column to note our priorities for taking the work forward.