Memorandum from Manchester City Council
1. USES AND
What are the uses of population estimates, and
how far do current population estimates meet the needs associated
with those uses? What are the effects of inaccuracies or inadequacies
in such estimates?
National Census, Mid-Year Estimate (MYE) and
Sub-National Population Projections (SNPP) have two uses, where
type 2 is dependent on type 1:
1. Setting the level of Revenue Support Grant
(RSG), where inaccuracies and errors can have a profound affect
on the Local Authorities (LA's) budget over the next decade. In
Manchester's case the 2001 Census undercount and the subsequent
Census Study by ONS restored an estimated 30,000 persons to the
2001 MYE worth over £100 million over the lifetime of the
Census. The Census itself remained unchanged and information in
relation to households and population in Manchester remain undercounted
thereby influencing the interpretation of data for policy making,
resource allocation and planning;
2. LA service planning, target setting, performance
indicators, funding bids, Best Value evaluations, as a denominator
for other variables such as life expectancy, Index of Deprivation
and producing small area demographics for wards or other catchment
areas such as Housing Market Renewal. Also used by many other
external organisations, partnerships and voluntary groups for
the same purposes.
Inaccuracies and errors may have a profound
effect at small area level where this can skew service planning
or the take up of services, for example wrongly associating a
small area as having a large elderly population.
How appropriate is a definition of the population
based on the usually resident population in the context of the
needs of the users?
The usually resident population counts all persons
who live in residential accommodation. It also counts students
at their term-time address, so where they spend most of the year,
persons in communal establishments, long-term international migrants
(LTIMspersons staying 12 months or more).
It does not count visitors (person staying for
less than 3 months, which includes tourists), or short-term international
migrants (STIMspersons staying for more than 3 months and
less than 12 months).
A count of visitors would be useful for service
planning reasons and for considering the funding/resources implications.
The only available data that indicates international
migration is the National Insurance Number (NINo) registration
to overseas nationals. However, NINo registration does not tell
us how many are short-term and how many long-term, about those
who do not register, or if they are still in Manchester, or even
in the country.
International migrants contribute to the local
economy and have a positive impact. The extent of that contribution
considered alongside what actual social pressure they make on
services is hard to quantify and requires more research.
Since STIMs are mainly from the EU, North America
and Antipodes, are young and single, and tend to find vacant posts
in the catering and leisure industry through workplace notices
and word of mouth, it might be supposed that very little pressure
is put on LA services. Some pressure may be put on private rented
accommodation and refuse collection associated with this type
of property, public transport, but it may help some bus routes
that are not viable, hospital A&E (there is some anecdotal
evidence that STIMs see no point in registering with a GP) and
possibly the police, through increased emphasis on community cohesion.
More research needs to be conducted into these and other areas
of potential pressure on services.
ONS is presently working on producing a STIMs
count in consultation with LAs. However, since STIMs data will
come from the same source, the IPS (International Passenger Survey),
it is unlikely that the methodology will be acceptable to those
LAs who reject the new LTIMs methodology. A count for planning
purposes would be very useful, but the affect which STIMs have
on public services needs further research.
Clearly illegal immigrants are very hard to
count, but those who arrived legally and overstay should have
been covered from arrival by the IPS (from grossing up the IPS),
or from Home Office asylum applications and are, therefore, already
recognised by ONS' MYE methodology as included in the national
count, although it would be useful to have a separate, and more
detailed, explanation of how they are estimated and distributed
Illegal immigrants who enter the country illegally
are not included within counts
Rough sleeper numbers are very tiny in the overall
context of the total population (current count is 7), often with
a rapid turnover and subject to seasonal fluctuations, so would
be difficult to include in a resident count. Residents who become
homeless are already counted in the MYE and those from outside
Manchester will be picked up like any other internal migrant when
they register with a GP
A count of residents of a LA is probably the
most robust count that can be made, but an attempt to count the
total population present, if it could be broken down into its
constituent parts, would be useful for service planning. The 2011
Census will attempt to count residents and persons present, which
How does the quality and range of population statistics
in England and Wales compare with that available in Scotland,
Northern Ireland and internationally?
There was a different level of geography in
Scotland in 2001, with Data Zones being much smaller than Output
Areas (OA) in England, so data was available at a more local level.
MCC would have preferred the OAs in England to be redrawn to the
equivalent size, or the current ones to be split in two, but ONS
consultation with LAs this year on Small Area Geography accepted
that current OAs should be kept for continuity and ONS have not
accepted the idea of splitting OAs on the grounds of Statistical
Disclosure Control (SDC).
Different SDC rules applied in Scotland in 2001,
so that data was more reliable at local level. Clearly, individuals
need to be guaranteed that they cannot be identified by Census
output tables, however, it is important that the data used by
LAs makes sense at OA level. The method used by ONS in 2001 did
not always make sense. For example, there were OAs containing
a number of residents in communal establishments, but no communal
establishments and vice versa. ONS original intentions to release
OA data was reduced to one table only and even that data was so
modified as to be of little use. The General Register Office of
Scotland (GROS) used a mainly pre-tabulation method of record
swapping that Scottish LA users considered fit for purpose.
The three Statistical Agencies in the UK produced
a preliminary paper on UK SDC policy principles in November 2006.
The paper is a very good starting point for producing a new SDC
methodology and is to be subject to consultation at some point.
MCC supports this new approach and will participate in the consultation.
2. THE ROLE
How does the Census contribute to the creation
of population statistics? Is the current frequency of Censuses
appropriate and, if not, how frequent should Censuses be?
The MYE is Census based and the SNPP is MYE
based, so the Census is fundamental to both Type 1 and Type 2
uses outlined above. The Census is the only survey of the whole
country at the same point in time and its importance to creating
and understanding LA population profiles cannot be exaggerated.
But because it happens only once every 10 years, some of the data
collected starts to lose value as the years go by, especially
for a LA like Manchester, with its large student population, young
age structure and high levels of mobility.
Unless, or until, there is a move towards improving
and enhancing the collection of robust national administrative
data sets (such as the ONS proposal for an "integrated population
statistics system" (IPSS) to replace the Census), a Census,
or partial Census (as in Canada) every five years would be supported
by MCC. However, it remains to be seen if an IPSS will be good
enough to stand-alone or if it may still need support from a partial
Census of some kind.
What lessons have been learnt from the Test Census
carried out on 13 May 2007? What methods should be employed for
the distribution and completion of Census forms, including the
use of the Internet?
ONS have not reported yet on the 2007 Census
However, they have reported on the Coverage
of Address Registers used for the 2007 Test Areas. The Address
Test based on 2006 data compared OS MasterMap ® Address Layer
2 and the National Land and Property Gazetteer (NLPG). The results
showed in the two Test Areas most like Manchester, an undercount
in both Registers for Camden, and an undercount for Liverpool
in the former and an overcount in the latter.
The 2001 Census undercount for Manchester was
mainly the result of missed addresses, where the Census Study
added 24,600 persons to the MYE, and an estimated 5,500 mainly
young men were also missed in wholly absent, or partly absent
households, so the lack of a comprehensive address database concerns
The proposed methodology for delivery and return
of Census forms, by post out and post back, is probably not suitable
for areas of Manchester which are difficult to enumerate.
The Scottish 2006 Census Test showed, not surprisingly,
that the response was much better with hand delivery of the forms
and GROS have decided to go with hand enumeration. MCC would prefer
hand delivery and collection, to be made by trained enumerators
with local knowledge. We are working to improve our Local LLPG
generally, and for the 2011 Census in particular.
MCC is committed to the local government initiative
to enhance the quality of the NLPG to make it the definitive addressing
The extent to which ONS engage with local government
to support the delivery of the Census will be enhanced by a high
quality NLPG and ONS need to consider how best to support the
development in conjunction with local government. Clearly, if
the intention is to rely heavily on postal delivery this may tend
to indicate a requirement to use postal systems derived addressing
but this will not be universally the best solution.
Additionally, the extent to which geographical
based systems can be used by enumerators as an aid when visiting
addresses needs to be harnessed and, again, this would be enhanced
To see the selection of an address register
as a choice between two rival products is likely to restrict access
to valuable address data.
In our view, one critical point, learned from
the address matching exercise following the 2001 Census, was the
need to be clear how many dwelling spaces there were in each area
because this forms the basis of fundamental tests of accuracy
by establishing the total amount of forms which ought to be returned.
Also, through effective address referencing, it enables those
forms to be tracked so that none go missing as they did in 2001
and it facilitates the flexible deployment of enumerators to those
areas exhibiting low levels of form return.
ONS will need to select an addressing strategy
which does the job required and current arguments about commercial
rights to address registers are inhibiting this choice.
Interactive use of the Internet will appeal
to a growing number of people and should be tested to ensure accuracy
can be achieved and to understand the impact on enumeration resources.
What steps should be taken to increase the rate
of responses to the Census, particularly in hard-to-reach areas?
How effective are plans to measure the extent of non-response
to the 2011 Census?
1. Comprehensive address registers are the
2. By ONS working closely with LAs, as they
did in the Test Areas, to identify persons and areas that are
hard-to-reach. This is best done by utilising LAs' local knowledge
3. By hand delivery and collection, at least
in the hardest areas;
4. That ONS utilise LA staff with their local
knowledge as enumerators, give them better training, more incentives,
better enumeration tool kits (particularly electronic support),
better support from managers and supervisors, provided by LAs
to ONS, and more time to collect and repeat collection visits
than the 2001 Census methodology allowed;
5. By having a rigorously thorough community
liaison and publicity plan, developed by LAs, who know their own
communities better than ONS, but utilising ONS support and resources;
6. By an effective system of form tracking
to ensure completeness of processing and enable the flexible use
ONS plans for measuring non-response are not
yet fully described, but the Coverage and Adjustment Strategy
has been/is subject to consultation. The plans in theory are very
good, but they rely on some elements that did not perform well
in 2001. The proposal for a Census Coverage Survey (CVS) remains
the same, but with some necessary improvements. The use of a dual
system estimator remains the same, but it recognises that the
Census and the CVS are not independent of each other. The One
Number Census methodology used in 2001 was not all bad, but calling
it "One Number" was. ONS clearly do not intend to make
the same mistakes. The methodology showed ONS that the count for
Manchester was well below the Confidence Intervals used in the
Quality Assurance (QA) process, but ONS decided that the QA method
was wrong, going against their own methodology that was agreed
to by MCC. That must not happen again.
It is essential for LAs to have confidence in
2011, that there are procedures to appeal population estimates,
on the basis of evidence of departure from procedures, or large
departures from expectations. This latter is properly part of
the quality assurance process, which is not yet described by ONS
but will become an integral part of the adjustment of census counts
for coverage. This process of QA and appeals procedure must be
transparent to, and involve, LAs.
To what extent is there a trade-off between the
length of the Census form and its role in providing population
information? What questions should be included in the 2011 Census?
In all surveys there is a trade off between
the length of the questionnaire and the response rate. The extent
of the trade depends upon the relevance of the survey to the individual
and the level of incentive, or punishment for non-completion.
MCC's first priority is to keep the Census questionnaire
as short and as easy to understand, and complete accurately, by
the respondent as possible. In order to achieve the best possible
response rate and most reliable population count, MCC's view is
that new questions should not be added at the expense of the response
We favour the inclusion or enhancement of questions
that clarify and expand population definitions and bases (for
example, population present). This is essential in order to improve
the reliability and validity of the Census as the base for the
MYE and SNPP. We also support the inclusion of an Income Question,
but only if the 2007 Test shows that it does not undermine the
response rate. The 2006 Scottish Census Test showed that it did
not affect the response rate.
We do not suggest adding more questions, unless
some old questions that are no longer required to be answered
One well-worded question on qualifications is
all that is needed, whether respondents have professional qualifications
that they do not use for employment purposes is not required and
could be seen as intrusive. This question in the 2001 Census in
Manchester produced the highest level of non-response (22.6%).
Also number of employees at the workplace caused considerable
confusion. For example, is the workplace the whole organisation
or the respondent's office? In Manchester, 18.6% of respondents
did not respond.
The wording of questions, and the cognitive
testing of the wording, is essential to interpretation and meaning
and a limitation on questions requiring subjective answers is
required, especially where the questions are used for the allocation
of resources to LAs. For example the question on Long-Term Limiting
Illness (LTLI) as ONS recognised from previous Census Tests by
adding the wording "Include problems which are due to old
age" recognises a difference in interpretation by age group.
The large increase in LTLI between 1991 and 2001 in some areas,
indicates both changing attitudes to disability which affects
the way respondents interpret this question and also a subjective
interpretation as some people see their illness, or disability,
as limiting, long-term and severe, compared to others with the
same illness, or disability, who do not.
MCC overall supports the Census topics staying
as close as possible to the 2001 form, as continuity and comparability
should be given a high priority for the Key Statistics. So many
government-funded projects require performance measurement and
this can only be done if some of the questions remain unchanged.
To what extent should Census questions and statistical
information be coordinated across the United Kingdom and how effective
are plans to ensure such coordination?
The three Statistical Agencies in the UK are
preparing to coordinate the Census, which is no doubt a good idea,
but except for getting LAs in England and Wales a better SDC,
is not an issue of any great importance to MCC.
What forms should the outputs of the 2011 Census
take, how and when should they be made available and how should
they be integrated and coordinated with other information on population?
LAs have a need for timely, easily accessed,
clearly formatted, statistically reliable, UK consistent data,
for all geographies including wards and with a high ability to
compare Key Statistics with the previous Census. However, Manchester
had a ward boundary change in 2004 and OAs no longer fit to our
The National Statistics Small Area Geography
(SAG) consultation this year showed that 36% of respondents (of
which 54% were from LAs) wanted ward level geography, with 44%
of LAs mentioning wards. No question was asked about wards in
this consultation. If it had been, no doubt the support from LAs
would have been higher. Without ward level data, statutory requirements
such as producing Five Year Forecasts for the Boundary Commission
of England would be even more difficult to do with any confidence
than it is now. ONS have decided to maintain the OA and Super
OA geography, but have not as yet guaranteed any ward level data.
MCC require such a guarantee and we would like to see the 2001
Census re-issued to the same ward boundaries. We understand that
this will have to be done by the best fit of OAs to wards, which,
while not perfect, is what we had to do ourselves with 2001 Census
Key Statistics data, or have no ward data at all.
From the consultation report on SAG, ONS consider
that there will be no need to merge, or split more than 5% of
OAs because of a change in population between the 2001 and 2011
Census. MCC took part in this consultation and for Manchester
our view is that where there has been extensive land use change
from industrial and commercial to residential and rapid development
of dwellings, particularly in the city centre, and its concomitant
population growth, some of our OAs will need to be redrawn or
split. ONS have said that: "Findings from this consultationand
particularly the areas which users have identified as troublesome";
will be used for further research and so we expect that to include
How accurate and useful are the mid-year population
estimates for England and Wales, including information available
for local authorities and Strategic Health Authorities?
The MYE is very important to LAs, as it has
both type 1 and type 2 uses (see question 1 above). However, as
a LA, we cannot be sure how accurate the MYE is. We have no reason
to doubt the accuracy at national level. At LA and Primary Care
Trust level, there is more room for doubt. The age cohort based
methodology is good standard practice and the births and deaths
data is robust. The areas of doubt arise with the way students
are treated and migration, but all methodologies will have problems.
Consideration also needs to be given to the
time lag between the publication of these statistics and their
use, in particular for revenue allocation purposes. The RSG settlement
for 2008-11 will utilise population projections based on 2004
data and before, even though mid year estimates have been published
for 2006. In MCC's case these projections are undercounting the
population of Manchester and will therefore reduce the level of
revenue support available to the City for MCC, its partners and
other agencies that work for the benefit of the whole community.
How appropriate is the methodology by which, mid-year
population estimates are reached?
Students are such a large proportion of Manchester's
population (12% in total, just under 70% of 19 year olds and just
over 50% of 20 to 24 year olds in the 2001 Census) and they do
not age, so that age cohorts do not apply to them. It is not clear
from ONS, what part of the methodology for producing the MYE (if
any) applies to keeping students constant and the SNPP does not
deal with students at all. The MYE does not have access to student
counts as Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) counts students
by university, though they plan to count them at their term-time
address in future and this data could be used to improve the way
students are treated by the MYE. HESA data also needs to include
data on nationality and address one year previously to identify
overseas students. The methodology for counting students separately
from the age cohort model needs to be reviewed and researched.
Migration includes internal migration and international
Internal migration data is based on patient
register and patient re-registration recorded in the National
Health Service Central Register (NHSCR) and shows moves between
Local Authorities, Government Regions in England and Wales only.
It does not include the rest of the UK (Scotland and Northern
Ireland). There are problems with the NHSCR data, as it is more
robust for children and elderly people, as they are more likely
to register with a GP. It is poor on young adults and men generally
who are less likely to register with a GP, and it suffers a level
of list "inflation" as a result. Also, as the data is
rounded to the nearest 100 for age groups, small variations are
not shown and sub-totals do not add up to totals.
The Improving Migration and Population Statistics
(IMPS) project developed a new methodology for international migration
and applied it to the 2006 MYE and revised the 2002 to 2005 MYE
and the 2004-Based SNPP. There is insufficient data to make a
truly robust reliable count of LTIMs, everyone recognises this,
including ONS. The total international migration count uses the
International Passenger Survey (IPS), the Irish Republic Household
Survey and the Home Office count of asylum seekers. Irish migrants
are not covered in the IPS. MCC supports methods to improve the
migrant count as outlined in the following section.
What are the most appropriate ways to ensure a
common level of accuracy in mid-year population estimates for
different areas and what steps should be taken to improve the
accuracy in areas where population is hard to measure?
The existing MYE methodology is still probably
the best to provide a nationally consistent estimate, though some
improvements could be made to the base data sets.
HESA is mentioned in the section above.
The NHSCR data is the only reliable source nationally
for internal movement and anything that could be done to improve
the quality of the data would be very useful. (See Section 4 below).
The IMPS new methodology for counting LTIM,
introduced this year by ONS, appears to be better than the previous
methodology, and fairer. The revised MYE components of change
resulted in Manchester both losing and gaining population, but
gaining overall by the 2006 MYE. The new methodology means that
more inward-LTIM are allocated to neighbouring areas than to Manchester,
but more outward-LTIM are retained in Manchester. The means of
counting Migrant and Visitor Switchers is improved, as is the
method for counting outward-LTIMs by using a propensity to migrate
LTIM will be improved further next year when
the Integrated Household Survey (IHS) replaces the Labour Force
Survey (LFS). The LFS does not include residents in communal establishments,
and because of its small sample size, it is only used below sub-regional
level for London Boroughs. The IHS will have a much larger sample
size, but it is also a household survey and some measure needs
to be taken to include communal establishments residents.
However, the best way of improving the LTIM
and the STIM count would be to make more resources available to
increase the sample size of the IPS. However, consideration should
be given to replacing it by the equivalent of 100% compulsory
passenger embarkation cards, in and out, at all points of entry
and exit. This form of compulsory monitoring existed prior to
the UK joining the EU and could be reinstated through the EU e.borders
project. Parts of the project should be funded and brought forward
from 2010 and implemented in 2008.
What is the right process for making revisions
to mid-year population estimates so as to meet the needs of users?
Through ONS continuous consultation, complete
openness and clarity. ONS listening to LAs and explaining where
users suggestions are capable, or incapable of being implemented,
or require researching and the reasons why. Through meetings and
workshops around the country, by email and website. Publicised
as widely as possible using ONS existing email groups, Central
and Local Government Information Partnership sub-groups, Local
Government Association, Local Authorities Research and Intelligence
4. THE ROLE
What role can and should be played by survey data
in the compilation of population statistics?
The use of available data needs careful consideration.
Increasingly, administrative data is being compiled which can
assist in validating survey result and the outcome of the Census.
Following the 2001 Census, analysis of administrative data showed
that the result was questionable, but at the time, this quality
assurance result was rejected. Without vigorous representation
by the Council this would not have been acknowledged in subsequent
studies conducted by ONS.
The Census, IPS, LFS, and IHS are all surveys
and without them it would not be possible to have any accurate
population data. The Census is the most accurate survey because
it attempts to cover 100% of the population, even though it is
improbable that it has ever succeeded in the past or is ever likely
to in the future, but smaller sample surveys are required for
inter-Census years. The sample size depends on the resources available
and all surveys that aid the national MYE and SNPP should have
priority of resources.
However no existing survey other than the Census
includes persons living in communal establishments and for Manchester
this means missing large numbers of students in halls of residence.
What role can and should be played by data from
General Practitioners and other health service data in the compilation
of population statistics?
NHSCR developments phased in from 2005 to 2007
have, apart from changing the registers name from Central Registration
System to Care Records Service, is a new electronic system of
keeping patients records in one place to enable health workers
to access a patients record on-line. However, according to NHS
Connecting for Health, it will be "several years" before
it is rolled out across England. The Personal Demographics Service
(PDS) is an essential element of the NHS CRS. Every registered
person in England will have an electronic record consisting of
both demographic administrative data and medical data by 2010.
However, it is the perennial problem with all
administrative databases, it is not designed to collect data for
any other purpose and the demographic data held is very basic:
name, address, date of birth, date of death (where applicable),
sex, and preferred language. Unfortunately it does not hold any
data that is considered to be "sensitive" such as nationality,
ethnic group, religion, or date of arrival in the UK, so it is
unlikely to be of any help in counting international migrants
and its uses are limited. Nevertheless, if resources are committed
to cleaning and maintenance it could help make an improvement
to the population count at LA and small area level, and to internal
migration. This may be in time to inform and to quality assure
the 2011 Census population.
What other data sources can and should be used
in the compilation of population statistics?
Other data sources have to be collected nationally
and to the same standards. Most other data sources do not cover
large enough sections of the population and because they are collected
for other purposes, they have many problems associated with them
that would need to be addressed before they could be used for
counting the population. However, they could be used in a supporting,
or quality assuring capacity when distributing population to LAs.
The datasets with most potential and/ or require
further research as to their utility are:
1. Council Tax dwellings from the Valuation
Office, which could be used to give an estimated population using
an occupancy ratio;
2. National Insurance Number allocations
to overseas nationals, which could be used at the IMP New Geography
sub-regional cluster level;
3. Schools Census of languages spoken in
pupils' homes could be used as a proxy for nationality.
4. NHSCR Flag 4 added to the records of an
international migrant when they first register with a GP needs
further research as to how useful it is, as there appears to be
some doubt about the reliability of data collection methods. However,
it is not clear whether the changes to the system, currently being
introduced, will include Flag 4.
5. Workers Registration Scheme is probably
less useful than NINo, as it only applies to EU countries.
Other LA administrative data is dependent on
the amount of resources allocated to their collection by each
LA, for example the Electoral Register (ER), and quality is, therefore,
variable and patchy nationally. Methods used to keep the ER clean
and up-to-date are very good in Manchester and enabled MCC to
use the ER as evidence of an undercount in the 2001 Census. Some
other LAs, who considered their populations were undercounted
were not able to replicate MCC's evidence because their ERs were
suffering from inflation as a result of the change to rolling
The introduction of the Coordinated On-line
Record of Electors (CORE) system may resolve the problem of patchiness.
The aims of the Department for Constitutional Affairs, in introducing
CORE in 2005 was to achieve: "improvements in the integrity
of electoral registers; more efficient access to registration
data for those authorised; support modernisation of the voting
process; improvements in the efficiency of the electoral administration
process; and provide a mechanism by which reports can be provided
and/or research conducted efficiently on electoral registration
data, based on a national dataset". When CORE is finally
implemented across the country it will provide another source
of data to help with quality assuring Census data.
Additionally, new legislative requirements will
require more rigorous canvassing. This is an example of the need
to keep the quality of administrative data under review and to
anticipate improvements in that data in the run up to 2011.
However, as with all administrative data sets,
the ER is not designed to provide population data. Adults entitled
to vote sometime choose not to register, or many young adults
are highly mobile and miss annual registration processes. ERs
exclude children aged under 18 and non-EU foreign nationals. Nevertheless,
the addition of the nationality question this year, could add
a little to our knowledge of the population.
How effectively has the Office for National Statistics
cooperated with stakeholders with an interest in and information
relating to population statistics and how can cooperation be improved
by the Statistics Board and by its Executive Office?
ONS has improved enormously since the 2001 Census
undercount, but there is a concern that the speed with which they
are able to establish the more practical cooperation in delivering
an effective Census in 2011 is not in line with their stated intent
of much greater involvement with LAs.
Recently, however, we are aware of the development
by ONS of a strategy for engagement with Local Government together
with the specific initiative to develop a regional approach to
engagement through regional lead Chief Executives along the lines
of the approach adopted for Regional Returning Officers. This
initiative has our wholehearted support because the methodology
is proven and it is vital that Local Government takes an active
role in supporting the conduct of the 2011 Census.
More specific comments are:
1. ONS are conducting a wide range of consultation
on the 2011 Census and the MYE, but how far they are prepared
to take on the views of LAs is a moot point, which would be improved
when ONS publish consultation comments, if they indicated their
response and why.
2. Another issue is the slowness of ONS to
respond to any request, or enquiry outside standard data requests
and on occasion months can go by before the results of consultation
are known, often after ONS have made their final decisions and
often deadlines are not always met.
3. Another is ONS failure to disseminate
widely enough to LAs, information on meetings and workshops that
are important to LAs and therefore, can be easily missed.
In global terms there needs to be a recognition
throughout those at ONS charged with delivering an effective Census
that LAs are not simply "user" stakeholders, but represent
an essential resource which must be effectively harnessed to achieve
the best outcome. This can be achieved without jeopardising ONS's
delivery of independent results.
The Statistics Board could act as "ombudsman",
or "OffStat", a last resort independent complaints commission
for data users. Also it could act as a standing quality assurance
Additional Please list any further matters
which you feel should be raised in the inquiry
The use of population data for the Comprehensive
Spending Review and the Formula Spending Share, by which LAs are
allocated Revenue Support Grants, should mean that ONS' first
priority should be given to methods of collecting population data,
by committing the resources required to get the best possible
results. Both national and local government spending crucially
depends on this data, no other organisation, statutory or voluntary,
have the same dependency and, therefore, ONS should give utmost
priority to our needs. Government must make the necessary resource
available to ONS to ensure that the research required, the enlargement
of sample sizes, and the improvement of administrative data collection
methods can be implemented as quickly as possible. In particular,
MCC would like to see resource committed to the IPS, e.borders
and the production of the 2006-Based SNPP to be substituted for
the revised 2004-Based SNPP in determining current RSG.
MCC participated in ONS consultation on ONS'
Statistical Work Programme for 2008-2012 earlier this year and
commented on the need for reliable data for local geographies
for policy work. MCC noted that in the coming years, all ONS products
will be affected due to rapid changes in the global economy and
population mobility. Correct measurements of economic and social
changes need to be monitored and that is only possible with reliable
statistics at a very local level, which are timely and regularly
updated and can be linked geographically, such as by Lower Super
Output Area. For example, recent in-migration has changed the
socio-economic make-up of the city, particularly in some local
areas, but local level information is very limited but necessary
for local policy work. It is imperative to focus on improvements
in the methods of distributing internal and external migration
between local authorities in population estimates. Reliable information
on population estimates is absolutely essential for policy development
and to monitor progress, particularly at a local level.