Coherence of statistics

Statistical coherence is about bringing together outputs on the same topic to better explain the part of the world they describe. This can be across the four countries of the UK where policy making has been devolved (such as housing) or where multiple producers are publishing statistics on the same topic (such as income and earnings).

Across the Government Statistical Service (GSS), analysts are working together to improve the coherence of our statistics. There is a wide range of data sources and a vast amount of analysis being produced across government and the four UK nations. We must challenge ourselves not to simply publish a set of numbers but to explain how our data sources relate to each other and how they can be combined with other statistics to better explain the world.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has emphasised the value of coherent UK wide statistics. The UK Concordat on Statistics supports our coherence work across the United Kingdom. This is a jointly agreed framework for statistical collaboration between the UK Government, and the Northern Ireland, Scottish, and Welsh Governments. The Office for National Statistics (ONS), the devolved administrations, and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) have been working together to join up data across the UK by creating new UK-wide datasets. These are in high-priority areas of shared interest across UK administration, largely around understanding economic recovery post pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. You can find more information about these UK wide data projects in our work programme.

We have worked with producers of official statistics across the UK to produce a work programme which summarises the work underway on statistical theme topics. We want to make it easier for you to see what work is being done to improve coherence and provide an opportunity for you to give feedback.

Our work programme covers:

  • the teams leading each workstream
  • the main achievements improving coherence from April 2021 to March 2022
  • the coherence plans that teams have set from April 2022 to March 2023
  • how you can find out more about work in a particular area

Statisticians working in this topic area concentrate on improving the coherence and availability of Adult Social Care (ASC) statistics.

Who leads the coherence work

This work is led by the Four Social Care Group.

The group is made up of members from

  • the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC)
  • NHS England
  • the Department of Health Northern Ireland
  • the Office for National Statistics (ONS)
  • Scottish Government
  • Welsh Government

You can contact the Four Social Care Group by emailing  Social.Care@ons.gov.uk.

Main achievements from April 2021 to March 2022

From April 2021 to March 2022 we:

Coherence plans for April 2022 to March 2023

We plan to:

Further information

You can find more information about this topic area on the:

Statisticians working in this topic area concentrate on ensuring coherence in statistics created to assess the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Who leads the coherence work

This work is led by the Statistical Coherence and Inclusion Division at the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

You can contact the team by emailing GSS.Coherence@ons.gov.uk.

Main achievements from April 2021 to March 2022

From April 2021 to March 2022 we:

Coherence plans for April 2022 to March 2023

We plan to:

  • work with colleagues across the statistical system to join up work on COVID-19 economic and health recovery
  • take a UK wide approach to COVID-19 analysis

The ONS Coordination team will continue to encourage joining up on cross-GSS COVID-19 analysis.

Further information

You can find more information on this topic area in:

Statisticians working in this topic area concentrate on improving the coherence and availability of crime statistics.

Who leads the coherence work

This work is led by the Government Statistical Service (GSS) Crime and Justice Working Group and the Centre for Crime and Justice at the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The GSS Crime and Justice Working Group is made up of members from the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, and ONS.

You can contact the teams working in this topic area by emailing Crime.Statistics@ons.gov.uk.

Main achievements from April 2021 to March 2022

From April 2021 to March 2022 we:

Coherence plans for April 2022 to March 2023

We plan to:

  • continue developing and transforming the ONS Crime Survey to ensure we adapt to the changing circumstances related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and improve availability of crime statistics
  • publish a first iteration of the Violence against Women and Girls data dashboard – this work has already been completed
  • explore the possibility of creating a new Crime and Security Statistics Theme Group to provide a simple entry route into the world of official statistics – you can find out more about the plans to create a new Crime and Security Statistics Theme Group on the ONS website
  • review ways of improving crime statistics on non-household populations that are not captured by the Crime Survey for England and Wales
  • extend the use of the National Data Quality Improvement Service (NDQIS) to help improve the quality of data on recorded offences of Domestic Abuse and Child Sexual Abuse

Further information

You can find more information about this topic area on the ‘Improving crime statistics for England and Wales’ progress report.

Statisticians working in this topic area concentrate on improving the accessibility, breadth, and quality of UK statistics on climate change and its effects.

Who leads the coherence work

This topic is led by a new GSS theme group on Environment, Climate Change and Nature. The group is chaired by the Environment Division at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and vice-chaired by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The cross-government Climate Change Project has a Steering Group which includes members from:

  • the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
  • Defra
  • Cabinet Office
  • the Department for Trade (DfT)
  • HM Treasury (HMT)
  • the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC)
  • Number 10

The steering group is chaired by the ONS Environment Division.

There is also a wider Advisory Group involving devolved governments and a range of further government bodies.

You can contact the teams working in this topic area by emailing GSS.Coherence@ons.gov.uk.

Main achievements from April 2021 to March 2022

From April 2021 to March 2022 we:

  • increased ONS engagement with stakeholders and support for them from across government, departments, non-departmental public bodies, and devolved governments with Steering and Advisory Group meetings
  • launched the prototype UK Climate Change Statistics Portal in October 2021 – this is a statistics and data dissemination pilot for the Integrated Data Service (IDS) which uses data from across government, and it was showcased at the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) climate conference
  • agreed an initial climate change statistical framework for use across government – the framework consists of six pillars which support the structure of the Portal
  • increased the use of ONS rapid surveys of people (OPN) and businesses (BICS) to address policy questions and statistical gaps – for example the surveys were used to gather more information about, business actions on net zero and climate and nature reporting, and people’s perceptions of climate risks by 2030
  • developed a new quarterly Climate Change Insights publication, this involved working across government using Portal and rapid survey results to publish two editions of the publication, with one being released in May 2022 and the other being released August 2022

Coherence plans for April 2022 to March 2023

We plan to:

  • make the most of the new Government Statistical Service (GSS) environment group working with our vice chair from Defra
  • continue developing the UK climate change statistics Portal by working with stakeholders across government
  • create a new joint ONS and Defra vision for environment statistics and data – this is in part a response to a recommendation in an Office for Environmental Protection report for the ONS to play a greater role on environmental statistics
  • explore existing channels of engagement across wider government and the Devolved Administrations for environment and climate data and analysis
  • explore further development of analysis products using the IDS to address data gaps
  • continue mapping of Defra’s environmental reporting requirements and data flows, to identify areas of overlap and opportunities for alignment

Further information

You can find more information about this topic area on the UK Climate Change Statistics Portal.

Statisticians working in this topic area concentrate on improving harmonisation, coherence, and accessibility of equality statistics across the UK, particularly in relation to protected characteristics groups, people at greater risk of disadvantage, socioeconomic status, and geography.

Who leads the coherence work

This work is led by the Statistical Coherence and Inclusion Division at the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This division facilitates a joined up approach across the statistical system in responding to the recommendations of the Inclusive Data Taskforce (IDTF). This includes an implementation plan to improve data inclusivity across the UK statistical system.

You can contact the team by emailing Equalities@ons.gov.uk.

Main achievements from April 2021 to March 2022

From April 2021 to March 2022 we:

  • established a new National Statistician’s Inclusive Data Advisory Committee (NSIDAC) – the Committee provides independent advice and challenge to the IDTF implementation work and informs priorities for progressing coherence in equalities data
  • updated the Equalities Data Audit and launched an Equalities Data Navigator Tool

The ONS Centre for Equalities and Inclusion has worked with stakeholders across the UK to establish a programme of work to address the critical equalities data gaps identified by the IDTF. This programme of work is outlined in the IDTF Implementation Plan.

Coherence plans for April 2022 to March 2023

We plan to:

  • work together to address the equalities data gaps identified by the IDTF – this work will be informed by the NSIDAC
  • work closely with National Records of Scotland (NRS) and Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) to publish comparable data for different groups from Census 2021 in England and Wales, Census 2021 in Northern Ireland and Scotland’s Census 2022
  • consider development of a centralised, explorable and accessible UK-wide equalities data and analysis resource in the context of the development of the Integrated Data Service, working with the Cabinet Office’s Equality Hub
  • work with the Cabinet Office Equality Hub on data-related actions from the Inclusive Britain report, in particular consulting on a set of standards for ethnicity data and engaging with people from different ethnic groups to better understand the language and terminology that they identify

The Cabinet Office Equality Hub are working with Department for Education and other stakeholders to develop and publish a strategy to improve the quality and availability of ethnicity data and evidence about looked after children and their routes out of care.

Further information

You can find more information about this topic area:

Statisticians working in this topic area concentrate on improving the harmonisation, coherence, and accessibility of health statistics across the UK.

Who leads the coherence work

This work is led by the:

  • Health Leadership Forum, which was formed in 2022
  • Cross-UK Data and Statistics Group
  • English Health Statistics Steering Group (EHSSG), which oversees various theme groups

These groups include statistical producers from across the UK. They include but are not limited to:

  • the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)
  • the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID)
  • NHS Business Services Authority
  • NHS Digital
  • Public Health Scotland
  • Welsh Government
  • the Department of Health Northern Ireland
  • NHS England
  • the Office for National Statistics (ONS)
  • the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA)

You can contact the teams working in this topic area by emailing GSS.Health@ons.gov.uk.

Main achievements from April 2021 to March 2022

From April 2021 to March 2022 we:

Coherence plans for April 2022 to March 2023

We plan to:

  • work with the Cross-UK group and English Health Statistics Steering Group theme groups to scope out opportunities and develop UK wide coherence within their themes
  • work with the Government Statistical Service (GSS) User Engagement leads to identify opportunities to increase user engagement across health and care

Further information

You can find more information about this topic area on the Health and Care statistics webpage.

Statisticians working in this topic area concentrate on finding opportunities for the four countries of the UK to work together on housing, homelessness and planning statistics. They concentrate on improving the coherent overview of the UK housing landscape.

Who leads the coherence work

This work is led by the:

  • Government Statistical Service (GSS) Housing Statistics Working Group
  • GSS Planning Statistics Subgroup
  • GSS Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Statistics Working Group
  • GSS Housing Steering Group
  • GSS Private Rental Sector Working Group
  • GSS Homeless Deaths Working Group

These groups include statistical producers from across the UK. They include, but are not limited to:

  • the the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC)
  • Scottish Government
  • Welsh Government
  • the Office for National Statistics (ONS)
  • ONS Statistical Coherence and Inclusion Division

You can contact the teams working in this topic area by emailing GSS.Housing@ons.gov.uk.

Main achievements from April 2021 to March 2022

From April 2021 to March 2022 we:

  • published the housing work plan which sets out work to improve the coherence of housing, planning, homelessness, and rough sleeping statistics
  • created a new GSS Homeless Deaths Working Group, which has brought together producers of statistics from across the UK to consider opportunities to develop methods
  • trialled linkage of Homelessness Case Level Collection (H-CLIC) data in England with a sample of local authorities

The GSS Planning Statistics subgroup has been working together to the users’ needs for planning statistics.

Coherence plans for April 2022 to March 2023

We plan to:

  • work with data producers from across the UK to build on learning from the work to establish a case-level homelessness data collection in Wales – they will also work together to support the development of these systems across the UK
  • use the Integrated Data Service (IDS) Private Beta to analyse, publish, and research statistics related to housing and energy
  • launch a planned consultation across the GSS, to provide greater understanding of the user needs for planning statistics across the UK
  • produce an energy efficiency coherence report to bring together energy performance certificate (EPC) and Housing Conditions data from across the UK
  • continue improving the coherence of homeless deaths outputs across the UK –  this will include considering the feasibility of producing a Northern Ireland statistics release in late 2023 and producing a blog on the methodological differences of homelessness deaths releases published by ONS and National Records of Scotland (NRS)
  • publish a UK-wide subnational set of house building statistics
  • produce an article on coherence for UK fuel poverty statistics and explore the feasibility of producing UK-wide energy affordability analysis
  • transform UK Private rental price statistics with an improved methodology and better use of existing data – you can find out more about the transformation project for UK private rental price statistics on the ONS website

Further information

You can find out more about this topic area on the:

Statisticians working in this topic area concentrate on improving the coherence and accessibility of income and earnings statistics across the Government Statistical Service (GSS).

Who leads the coherence work

This work is led by the GSS Income and Earnings Coherence Steering Group and the Statistical Coherence and Inclusion Division at the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The GSS Income and Earnings Coherence Steering Group is made up of members from:

  • the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
  • HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • ONS

You can contact the teams working in this topic area by emailing GSS.Income.Earnings@ons.gov.uk.

Main achievements from April 2021 to March 2022

From April 2021 to March 2022 we:

Producers have continued to provide a range of analysis on the effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on household finances. This includes personal and economic well-being releases and weekly spending analysis.

Coherence plans for April 2022 to March 2023

We plan to:

  • publish an updated plan in early 2023, including progress against existing initiatives and considering new initiatives to improve coherence
  • host a workshop on the use of administrative data, or ‘admin-data’ in June 2022 – this will encourage departments to work together and improve the coherence of the use of admin-data
  • lead the coherence workstream as part of ONS’s new Household Financial Statistics Transformation (HFST) project – this will involve documenting coherency challenges and ensuring the project considers opportunities to address them
  • provide OSR with an update on our cross-GSS work to address recommendation from its income-based poverty statistics review – this update will be provided in September 2022

Further information

You can find more information about this topic area on the income and earnings statistics coherence webpage.

Statisticians working in this topic area concentrate on providing the best possible international migration statistics and insights. They do this by using the most up-to-date and accurate data available to produce outputs that are relevant, coherent, and timely.

Who leads the coherence work

This work is led by:

  • the Centre for International Migration at the Office for National Statistics (ONS)
  • the Home Office
  • the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
  • HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

You can contact the teams working in this topic area by emailing Pop.Info@ons.gov.uk.

Main achievements from April 2021 to March 2022

From April 2021 to March 2022 we:

Coherence plans for April 2022 to March 2023

We plan to:

  • agree a strategy for cross government data linkage for common purpose of coherence of migration statistics
  • produce a dashboard on migration statistics across government – this will make it easier for users to find the right data source for their needs regardless of which department produces the data
  • return to a regular schedule of cross GSS migration statistics publications, where possible aligning publication dates and reference periods – this will help data producers work towards producing ‘one number’ for migration and ensure there are not multiple different estimates for the same thing
  • produce joint Quality Assurance of Administrative Data (QAADs), for the main migration data sources – this includes the Migrant Workers Scan
  • share census analysis and outputs with other departments and devolved administrations before – this will help with quality assurance and ensure there is a coherent story for all parts of the UK
  • increase our role in international coherence of migration statistics concentrating on flexible definitions, administrative data, and refugees

Further information

You can find more information about this topic area on the:

Statisticians working in this topic area concentrate on improving coherence and reducing trade data gaps across the four nations of the UK.

Who leads the coherence work

This work is led by the transformation programme, which is jointly funded by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Department for International Trade (DIT).

You can contact the teams working in this topic area by emailing NA.UK.Trade.Project@ons.gov.uk.

Main achievements from April 2021 to March 2022

From April 2021 to March 2022 we:

Coherence plans for April 2022 to March 2023

We plan to:

  • make further improvements to the Annual International Trade in Services Survey – this will involve including the transport sector and improvements in cohesion with the international standard Extended Balance of Payments Services (EBOPS) classification, with publishable outputs expected around 2024 or 2025
  • review and publish results from the rebranded Digital Economy Survey, publish a further article on digital trade and find ways to better align the survey with international guidelines and encourage countries to work together more closely
  • publish the Subnational Trade in Goods and Trade in Services timeseries in June 2023, covering UK regions to ITL 3 and combined authority level on a consistent basis from 2016 to 2021
  • undertake research to align devolved administration trade surveys and publishing an article in July of 2023 on the feasibility of producing inter-regional trade statistics utilising survey data and administrative data sources – allowing for experimental UK interregional trade estimates in Autumn 2024
  • work with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Welsh Government, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA), and Scottish government to publish a consensus statement on the Analysis Function website, defining the differences in subnational trade estimation

Further information

You can find more information on this topic area in the UK trade and investment development plans update on the ONS website.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), devolved administrations and relevant departments have been working together to create new UK-wide datasets in high-priority areas of shared interest across UK administrations.

We plan to use new data and methods, including data science techniques, to help fill gaps on short-term projects that will result in rapid deliverables centred on shared priorities.

Who leads the coherence work

The ONS Statistical Coherence and Inclusion Division leads on this work with regular engagement with:

  • the Devolved Administrations (DAs)
  • the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC)
  • the GSS Heads of Profession and Directors of Analysis

Governance of cross UK coherence statistical work is through the Inter-Administration Committee (IAC), chaired by the National Statistician.

A new cross UK wide evidence and analysis steering board has also been established to improve access and use of data, evidence, and analysis across the UK. The steering board is chaired by the Director of Analysis at DLHUC.

Main achievements from April 2021 to March 2022

From April 2021 to March 2022 we:

  • ingested new data sets to improve the quality of sub-national and UK inter-regional trade estimates including devolved administration trade survey microdata and Department for Transport (DfT) Continuing Survey of Road Goods Transport
  • used open data sets provided by each of the four nations and produced UK wide figures for net additions to housing stock, allowing comparison across all regions of the UK​
  • applied a focussed boost to the International Trade in Services (ITIS) Survey to improve the quality, detail and comparability of trade in services data

Coherence plans for April 2022 to March 2023

We plan to:

  • use new data provided by the Office of Communications (OFCOM) to allow for a better understanding of broadband services across the four nations
  • expand the publication of the 2018 UK-wide ‘Quality of Jobs’ statistics by adding new job quality dimensions and indicators to the analysis
  • extend the Gross Value Added (GVA) productivity analysis (per hours worked) to include Northern Ireland
  • explore the feasibility of a UK-wide coherent statistic for ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET)’ at a subnational level
  • build an up to date, flexible, detailed, and coherent overview of local connectivity by mode of transport across the UK
  • pursue further feasibility work on medium-term and long-term priorities, including economic inactivity, productivity and jobs, health, and homelessness

Further information

If you would like more information about these topic areas, please email GSS.Coherence@ons.gov.uk.

Further resources

There are many partnerships and resources across the GSS on statistical coherence.

There are several resources we would recommend looking at to develop your understanding of statistical coherence, including:

  • the coherence insight report produced by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) in 2019 – this report concentrates on coherence and outlines a framework to support analysts when developing statistics and analysis
  • coherence user research work – this report contains the findings from a series of qualitative interviews with data users about the challenges and opportunities they experience when bringing together government data
  • the UK Concordat on Statistics – this is a jointly agreed framework to guide the UK Government, and the Northern Ireland, Scottish, and Welsh Governments when they work together on statistical projects
  • the Statistics Code of Practice – the code states that producers must demonstrate that they do not simply publish a set of numbers, but that they explain how they relate to other data on the topic, and how they combine with other statistics to better explain the part of the world they describe

Contact us

For general questions about statistical coherence, please email GSS.Coherence@ons.gov.uk.

For questions about a specific statistical topic please use the relevant contact details.

If you want to find out more about our statistical coherence work, please read the National Statistical blog post ‘Embedding joined up insight across UK statistics’.