Minutes for the Census Sub-Group Meeting held on 23 November 2006
CENTRAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT INFORMATION PARTNERSHIP CENSUS SUB GROUP
Peter Benton, Chairman 2011 Census Programme Deputy Director
Ron May 2011 Census Local Authority Liaison Manager
Liz McLaren 2011 Census Statistical Development
Nick Stripe ONS Geography
Owen Abbott ONS Methodology
Ian White 2011 Census Communication and Legislation
Margaret Wort, Secretary 2011 Census Communication and Legislation
Jenny Boag Falkirk Council
Malcolm Brown Cornwall County Council
Debbie Clark Kent County Council
Ian Coldicott Norfolk County Council
Charlotte Devereux Herefordshire Council
Graham Gardner Nottingham City Council
John Hollis Greater London Authority (LA lead)
Nick Holmes Local Government Data Unit - Wales
Eileen Howes Greater London Authority
Les Johnson Integrated Transport Birmingham
Mary Moore Suffolk County Council
Roger Morgan Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
David Pye Local Government Association – new member
Sheila Ritchie Manchester City Council
Paul Tansey South Gloucestershire Council
Steve Turner Tees Valley Joint Strategy Unit
Mike Brennan Hertfordshire County Council
Chris Owen West Midlands Observatory
Minutes of the last meeting
1 Minutes accepted subject to the following:
Para 18: Eileen Howes noted that this should have read: “She regretted that the 2001 Census Output Working Group had not been continued”.
Para 56: Ian Coldicott clarified that Census Inside was a product not a provider.
2 Para 54 Remit of different Geography groups to be clarified.
Action: Nick reported that ONS Geography provided corporate geography services to ONS, including both Census and NeSS. Geography for Census 2011 was being led by ONS Geography. In terms of policy, Census and NeSS geographies needed to be aligned. This issue was covered in the current small area geography policy consultation.
Nick went on to report that how geography was co-ordinated and led across the Government Statistical Service was being reviewed. Recent discussions had taken place concerning the merging of the National Statistics Geography Group (NSGG) and the Statistics for Regional Policy Working Group (SfRPWG). Ensuring effective local and regional representation on any new group was one critical requirement. ONS had also been thinking about the relationship between GSS geography and CLIP, and feel that there was more that could be done to their mutual benefit. Suggestions were most welcome.
He added that the Geography Advisory Group, referred to in the last minutes, had been a think tank which no longer existed.
3 Para 62: Critical Success Factors – to circulate revised paper Action: Outstanding- paper will be circulated when available.
4 Para 72: CLIP Action Plan – to discuss whether to do a workshop for the CLIP network. Action: This will be incorporated with topic consultation when a separate workshop will be set up jointly with the Local Government Association to cover local government users of census data.
AG (06) 12 2007 Test Questionnaire
5 Liz McLaren noted that there had been some rather negative media coverage after the launch of the 2007 Test questionnaire, which had given rise to some correspondence from the public.
6 Liz noted that in order to maximise the opportunity to test new and updated questions the questionnaire contained 4 pages of individual questions rather than 3 pages. She emphasised that the current working assumption for 2011 was for 3 pages of individual questions which meant that the Test questionnaire would not necessarily reflect the likely content for the 2011 Census.
7 John Hollis was interested to know how the possibility of a person completing two questionnaires – one in English, say, and one Welsh - would be handled. Peter explained that each form would have a unique identifier and part of the Test was to see how this worked. He added that Internet collection in the Census itself would create an additional problem.
8 Malcolm Brown noted that the second residence question proposed for 2011 was not as detailed as it was in the 2007. Liz noted that things had since moved on and that space constraints imposed significant problems. Pete noted that this was a topic which would be important for areas like Cornwall in particular but which would also be used for gaining information about where people require daily service provision.
9 John Hollis asked what comments had been received from the review teams referred to in paragraphs 12 and 13. Liz reported that their views were that the Language questions, and the first pages regarding Household member, were too complex. They also had reservations about the second residence question.
10 In response to a question from Ian Coldicott concerning further testing of the order of tick boxes, such as in the national identity question, Liz advised that this would be further developed in small-scale testing.
11 Roger Morgan noted that for some nationalities the first and last name are reversed and suggested using the terms ‘given name’ and ‘family name’ as used in some surveys. Liz agreed to consider this.
12 Malcolm Brown asked how publicity and the media would be managed. Pete advised that for the 2011 Census there would be external agencies appointed. A much lower key approach had to be adopted for the Test where local authorities would play a key role. Pete agreed the importance of seeking to remove the Census from political debate.
AG (06) 15 Consultation on Topics
13 Liz noted that the paper summarised user consultation on the content of the 2011 Census so far and provided information about future consultation. She noted that ONS topic experts were leading the work this time in order to provide a joined-up approach to Census and surveys. Members of Advisory Groups were invited to express an interest in being involved in any current, or future, topic-specific consultations.
14 John Hollis noted that CLIP members strongly believed that Advisory Groups should be part of all consultation. It was felt that Local Authorities had been sidelined, especially in connection with the Migration topic.
15 John further noted that time-scales for responding to documents were often too short. He pointed out that documents take time to circulate if not directed straight to Advisory Groups. Eileen Howes emphasised the need to consult with Advisory Groups as a matter of course on every topic.
16 Peter noted that there were three waves of testing in the coming months and comments would be welcome during this timeframe.
17 Mary Moore noted the Statistical Liaison Officer network would be another target audience for consultation. David Pye would be updating the list shortly.
Action: David Pye
AG (06) 18 Consultation on ethnicity, identity, religion and language
18 Liz explained that further consultation on the ethnicity, identity, religion and language questions was scheduled to start very soon.
19 Eileen Howes noted that it appeared that Advisory Groups were not on the list of those being invited to consult but Liz assured her that all Advisory Groups members would be included. (Secretary’s note: consultation sent to members 4 December).
20 Eileen was concerned that a multiple response option would be a huge issue, in particular because it would remove the possibility of direct comparability. Outputs would be problematic if every multi-tick was to be coded as ‘Mixed’. Otherwise some arbitrary precedent rule would have to be followed.
21 Pete noted the differing views emerging between ONS and GROS on the use of terms such as ‘Black’ and ‘African’. Some key aims of the consultation were to establish views on the terms people find acceptable, and in particular the use of colour labels such as ‘Black’ and ‘White’.
22 Sheila Ritchie noted that ultimately the Census data from the ethnic group question was used by Local Authorities to fund groups. She noted that the question had been first asked in 1991 in an attempt to fight discrimination on ‘colour’ and that it was important therefore that the question was not changed. It was recognised that all ethnic minorities had their own agenda.
23 Mary Moore noted also that it was also important to remember that the Census classification would be widely used by Local Authorities and other organisations after the Census for ethnic monitoring purposes. The classification had therefore to be universally usable and appropriate.
24 Malcolm Brown noted the mounting pressure in Cornwall, following the release of the Test questionnaire, for a ‘Cornish’ category in the ethnic group question and suggested that ONS send representatives to Cornwall to discuss issues. Malcolm was of the opinion that many ethnic groups who did not have their own category might refuse to complete the Census form. (Secretary’s note: a meeting with ONS, Cornwall CC and key stakeholders is being arranged for 20 April)
25 Roger Morgan wondered that the national identity question appeared to be a nationality question in all but name. But Liz argued they were different concepts. She added that the Test questions would not necessarily be those on the 2011 Census questionnaire.
AG (06) 17 Taking forward the content of the 2011 Census Questionnaire
26 Liz McLaren explained that the Test questionnaire contained 4 pages of individual questions which enabled the opportunity to test new and updated questions. However, the working assumption for the 2011 Census questionnaire was for 3 pages of individual questions which meant there were difficult trade-offs to be made. The funding bid was for 3 pages but there was potential for Departments to fund a 4th page. A decision on the questionnaire length would be needed in Spring 2007 and a view on the content needed by early 2008. Advisory Groups were being asked for their views on their priorities for topics and the options shown.
27 John Hollis noted that there had been lengthy discussion at the pre-meeting and the majority view was that 4 pages would be desirable. It was thought that, bearing in mind the large demand for questions, £20m for 4 pages was but a drop in the ocean compared to the overall cost of the Census, and the billions of pounds that are allocated based on the results.
28 Peter Benton emphasised that if only 3 pages were to be adopted then some really tough choices would have to be made. It was possible that Treasury could ask Government Departments to fund a 4th page but Nick Holmes thought this was a danger as the value to the country of a particular question might be lower to an individual Department than the Local Authorities’ needs.
29 Roger Morgan said it was imperative to have a second residence question but acknowledged that he would not know which question to sacrifice. Eileen Howes agreed it was difficult to identify questions to drop. The only currently common view was that national identity seemed less important from a data needs point of view.
30 Eileen noted the LAs’ strong view for an Industry question. John Hollis noted that the hours worked seem to have fallen between two stools. A split in full-time/part-time had been anticipated in the employment questions. It may be that the GLA case had not been made strongly enough because of the wrong assumption. Charlotte Devereux was also concerned that information on full-time/part-time work should be included and asked whether it was too late to make a case. Liz noted that such comments were still welcome.
31 Nick Holmes noted that number of jobs was becoming increasingly an issue and thought this should be asked. Nick noted also that it seemed illogical not to include transport to place of education together with transport to work. Liz reported there had been some problems in filtering out students from workers but Jenny Boag said she had not found it an issue in the Scottish 2001 Census form which had included both.
32 Peter Benton outlined that a 3 page questionnaire would be developed based on responses and this would be discussed with Government departments. Sheila Ritchie noted her preference for a 3 page questionnaire. She considered that the population count was clearly the most important and primary aim of the Census, and the inclusion of any question which might affect response rates should be dropped.
33 Sheila was unconvinced that Question 8 asking for year of entry into UK would be completed accurately. She, too, argued that a national identity question was a waste of valuable space on the form.
34 Peter Benton noted that an RSS Census Study Group may look at the balance of questions.
35 Pete noted that a series of user open meetings were being arranged for February including also a joint meeting with the LGA. (Secretary’s note. Three open meetings have now been scheduled for 1, 9, 16 March with an additional meeting at LGA for LAs on 12 March).
36 Graham Gardner wondered how open the meetings would be and how they would be structured. He felt that the roadshow meetings last year had had too many people focusing on just one particular question. Pete responded by saying that the consultation needed to be as wide and open as possible but there would always be those who were only interested in one particular element of the Census. He encouraged Local Authority members to attend the meeting at the LGA.
CLIP (06) 01 Local Authority Liaison Programme Update
37 Ron May noted that Service Level Agreements had been signed by two of the Test Local Authorities, and that three were in the process of signing or discussing data sharing issues with legal advisers. The provision of health and safety information was seen as a particularly sensitive issue with some authorities.
Secretary’s note: Three Service Level Agreements have now been signed.
38 John Hollis was pleased to hear of the good progress. He asked whether any information on asylum seekers was being provided and suggested an approach to the Home Office (NAS). Pete said this would be passed on to Owen Abbot who was leading the work on enumeration intelligence.
Action: Pete Benton
39 Ian White noted that the issues raised by Sir Howard Bernstein, the Chief Executive of Manchester City Council and the SOLACE Census Sub Group were being worked through at a series of think-tanks, looking at the pros and cons of varying degrees of Local Authority involvement in the Census operation. A formal letter of response would be sent to Sir Howard and the matter would be discussed at the next Local Authority Liaison Steering Group. John Hollis asked that if a paper was going to be prepared for that meeting that it be sent also to CLIP Census Sub-Group members. (Secretary’s note: The letter to Sir Howard was not sent until after the Steering Group meeting)
40 Ian White noted that he and Ian Cope would be attending a SOLACE Census sub-group meeting in the New Year.
Secretary’s note: Meeting date is 23 February.
41 David Pye noted that he would be circulating a programme for the LGA meeting to members for comments.
Action: David Pye
42 Ian Coldicott felt that Local Authorities could help with preparing address data. In particular, the NLPG and council tax data identified households likely to be vacant prior to Census.
43 Malcolm Brown noted the difficulties experienced with the address checking exercise in Carmarthenshire and urged ONS not to lose sight of problems posed by rural areas,although he appreciated the focus would be on inner cities.
44 Ian White referred to data sharing being a two way process and noted how ONS and Local Authorities were already working together on the address register development. Another issue was whether or not information collected during the address checking could be shared with Local Authorities without risk of breach of census confidentiality. The new Statistics Bill might provide a legal solution, but there would be a need to ensure public acceptability.
45 Sheila Ritchie said that even though her Authority was not a Test area she would like to be involved in the Test Evaluation workshop planned for June 2007. Sheila was advised that Ian Cope had already identified that other Local Authorities might want also to be involved and had suggested a further workshop later in the Summer for non-Test area Authorities.
AG (06) 13 2011 Census Outputs User Consultation Strategy
46 Ian White noted that a UK approach would be developed for outputs and that the Registrars General had agreed to produce a UK database. The requirements of any EU Regulation prescribing census output would have to be taken into account.
47 The strategy built on current consultation practice and suggested new ideas such as a ‘Champion’ and ‘user persona research.’ John Hollis was not particularly keen on the concept of ‘user persona’ as there were so many different requirements to fit into this type of research. Pete noted that this was to be in addition to other regular consultation and there may be occasions where heavy user input was required and others with light input.
48 John noted that some groups listed were second-hand users rather than users of raw data – such as the voluntary sector. Pete agreed to feed back to Angele that it was important not to shoehorn Local Authority users.
49 Steve Turner noted that at paragraph 11 ‘local government’ needed to include Strategic Partnerships where needs of the police and fire services were covered. He noted that the recent ‘Strong and prosperous communities" Local Government White Paper enhanced and strengthened Local Strategic Partnerships. Ian White reported that an approach to join an Advisory Group had recently been received from West Midlands police and he had been uncertain as to which group they should more appropriately belong. Steve advised that police interests should be covered by a Strategic Partnership and that Local Authorities should take the lead in these.
50 Nick Holmes noted that Strategic Partnerships were not a legal requirement in Wales. The Police, Fire and Health services were however represented on the Welsh Statistical Liaison Committee.
51 Eileen queried whether responses would be weighted as it was important to bear in mind that Local Authorities have particular statutory requirements to fulfil based on Census data.
52 Peter Benton noted that NeSS had created a whole new set of users and that it was important for all users to be able to benefits from census data. However Eileen thought that such users’ needs would be more easily met than those of for example, the GLA.
53 Eileen observed that the proposal for an Output User Council reminded her of the former 2001 Content Working Group, which had included different levels of user and had been somewhat unwieldy at the time. John asked how the Council would differ from the Output Working Group where sub-groups had looked in depth at particular topics and had proved very useful in 2001. Pete reported that the structure of the Group had yet to be decided.
54 There was general dismay at paragraph 26 which noted that users would (again) be asked to make cases for specific outputs from each topic. The LA Side felt that a sufficiently argued case had already been made several times before.
55 Eileen made the point that no-one read Census News alerts any more. She said she really missed the regular publication of the old newsletter-style Census News, which had been really useful and eagerly anticipated. She felt that everyone is so inundated with emails nowadays that the alerts just get ignored.
56 Ian White (who had been heavily involved in the production of the early Census Newsletter) was gratified to hear such praise from Eileen. He noted however that web use was now the way forward. He advised that Chris Ashford was looking to develop Census News into something which was more informative and to involve user more, but that there were resource implications.
57 John Hollis noted that the Data Distributors workshop referred to in paragraph 28 was now planned for March 2007.
AG (06) 14 User Consultation on Census Output Geographies
58 Nick Stripe reported that there had been a lot of feedback from the paper presented last year (AG (05) 09 Small Area Outputs Geography Policy) which proposed a policy of stability with the OA – SOA hierarchy. This would mean degradation in links to wards. Nick advised that part of the research programme covering the proposal would be to have a full public consultation. This will be launched at the end of November on the website and all Advisory Groups members would be sent an alert. Nick urged members to respond. (Secretary’s note: members alerted to consultation 29 November).
59 Steve Turner was disappointed that the particular issue (stability based on ward boundaries) that he had raised last year had not been addressed in the paper. Nick stressed that the proposal for stability with the Output Area – Super Output Area hierarchy was just that - a proposal. He understood very well that Local Authorities preferred to use ward boundaries and wanted to find out the strength of the varying user views.
60 Graham Gardner noted the wide diversity of opinion. He argued that a system was required to monitor performance of areas by Output Areas.
61 Mary Moore was concerned that there was no mention of parishes and noted that many requests to LAs asked for information about parishes. She also felt that wards were important, too, as district councils used ward data and like to compare themselves with other neighbouring districts.
62 Mary also thought that the middle layer needed to be redesigned. Nick stressed that the consultation was the opportunity to provide information on what changes were wanted. Mary noted that in her area current boundaries went through industrial estates (and even an airfield base) causing many problems; she would have a long list to send in to Nick.
63 Eileen Howes said there was a need for both administrative and statistical geographies. She thought the paper appeared to suggest the ONS had already made its decision, but Nick assured her that this was not the case.
Statistical Disclosure Control
64 Peter Benton said that it had been hoped to bring a paper to the meeting but the final statement was not yet available. The Registrars General were committed to aiming for simple methodology. (Secretary’s note: Statistical Disclosure Control policy statement sent to Advisory Groups 27 November and is available on the web.)
AG (06) 16 UK Census Coverage Assessment and Adjustment Strategy
65 Owen noted that the strategy built on the work of the 2001 One Number Census (ONC) and introduced innovations taking into account changes in the operation of the 2011 Census.
66 Steve Turner thought it was an excellent paper and thought that the plan to form Estimation Areas from straight geographic areas was a good idea. Steve queried the reference to the Integrated Household Survey (IHS) and asked whether or not this would amount to a triple system estimator. Owen said it would depend on how it was used; current planning was to use as a national household source.
67 John Hollis noted that with the 2001 One Number Census (ONC), there had been a Steering Committee led by Professor Ian Diamond and asked whether there were plans for similar assistance. Owen noted that the UK Census Design and Methodology Committee were overseeing the work and that sub-groups would be formed. He noted that Steve Turner, who had been heavily involved in the ONC, would be welcomed to join.
68 Steve noted that he would be responding formally to paragraphs 27 and 28.
69 Sheila Ritchie noted that she had still not given up on the idea of an Appeals process if there proved to be concerns about 2011 results.
70 Sheila noted that there was a proposal, not yet approved or funded, to enhance the NLPG with household data – this would be the Census Enumeration Support System (CESS). She thought that LAs who had encountered problems with 2001 Census results should be particularly encouraged to update their address lists. Peter Benton was interested to hear of CESS but would need to discuss the quality assurance of such a system.
AG (06) 11 2007 Census Test: Highlight report
71 Unfortunately it appeared that the Group had not been sent this paper. Ian White gave an overview. He noted that there were a few items about the Census Test which ONS wanted to update members on and these had been put together in this paper. Test evaluations would be made public in early 2008.
Update on other issues
Statistics Commission Reviews
72 Ian White noted that the Statistics Commission was undertaking a number of reviews:-
• Role of census data in managing public services;
• Managing risks;
• Consultation process;
• Long-term collection of census-type data.
Members welcomed the review of consultation.
73 Ian noted that the new Statistics and Registration Services Bill was expected in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech. (Secretary’s note: Bill published 22 November and given its 2nd Reading on 8 January). It covered a range of issues amongst which was the change of function of the Registrar General to the Statistics Board.
74 Peter Benton noted that the budget for ONS was likely to be for a five-year time span although at this stage it was not certain whether or not this would be the same for Census.
CLIP (06) 02 Geography Champions Report
75 Ian Coldicott noted that this was a note of a meeting held in November between the Statistics for Regional Policy Working Group and the National Statistics Geography Group.
76 Ian noted the interest in continuing to define and produce statistics for Travel to Work areas. Nick Holmes was encouraged by how this work was going.
77 Access to small area data was discussed and the requirement for unrounded data stressed.
Any other business
78 Ian White noted the consultation on Standard Occupational Classification 2010.
79 John Hollis asked whether there was any news on the date of the 2011 Census. Peter said that no decision had yet been made. April looked difficult because of University term times so it was likely to be March or May but these both had some problems. A decision was likely in June 2007. Malcolm Brown suggested approaching Tourist Boards for information about visitors since May was a holiday month. Nick Holmes and Jenny Boag noted that there would be local elections in early May 2011 in Scotland and Wales.
80 Sheila Ritchie asked about definitions of Communal Establishments. Peter Benton replied that Communal Establishments were not included in the Test and there remained some work to do before these definitions were finalised. He noted that information on Definitions to be used for the Test would be on the web shortly.
Date of next meeting
81 Pete noted that because of the open meetings in March and the Test in May, it had been thought that the next round of Advisory Group meetings would be in the Autumn. John Hollis was keen to have the meetings in September/October but Peter explained that it was likely to be bit later if members wanted to hear about the Test – which they did. Jenny Boag noted that there had not yet been any information from GROS about the 2006 Test in Scotland.
Census Advisory Group Secretary
Meeting date: 23/11/2006
Published on: 09/02/2007