Use of Administrative Data in the 2021 census

As part of Scotland’s Census 2021, NRS are planning on making best use of administrative data in its design. The primary use for admin data being will be for quality assurance purposes.

Details of how we will use Admin data in Scotland’s Census 2021 is covered in the Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) which will be refreshed and updated as plans develop. Any use of administrative data in the census would be subject to legal, ethical and privacy considerations.

NRS will work with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Northern Ireland Statistical Research Agency (NISRA) to ensure harmonised outputs across the UK from the 2021 Censuses and in the development of statistical methodology.

Use of Administrative Data

One of the objectives of the Scotland’s Census 2021 Programme is to make recommendations for future censuses. In order to feed in to this recommendation, a project to create Administrative Data Population and Household Estimates was commissioned. The aim of this project is to look at the future use of administrative data collected by public bodies and services to augment or replace NRS’ data collected by a traditional census. The project has its own Administrative Data Population and Household Estimates DPIA that is reviewed when changes occur within the project.

Stakeholders have been consulted and involved from the outset of the project. Extensive consultation work was undertaken in the Beyond 2011 programme. In 2015, the Scotland’s Census 2021: Admin Data team started to progress this work further and a range of stakeholders were consulted in 2017 about the Administrative Data Mid-Year Population and Household Estimates project.

NRS aim to publish the first set of administrative based population estimates later in 2020. These will be published as experimental statistics under the Code of Practice for Official Statistics, and will allow a discussion with users about the use of administrative data within the field of demographic statistics. Ongoing evaluation and assessment with users will then take place to determine the suitability and quality of admin-based population estimates, and help shape future work. 

The Admin Data team plans to undertake further stakeholder engagement to talk about this publication and the project’s direction in 2020/21. We very much welcome comments and feedback from stakeholders, and we can be contacted at Scotlandscensus@nrscotland.gov.uk.