A year in impact

Neil Dymond-Green, Service Director for Impact As 2022 draws to a close, our Director of Impact Neil Dymond-Green, looks back over some of their impact highlights of the year.

 

On the Data Impact blog

2022 has been another year full of engaging and thought-provoking posts on the blog. And, if you find yourself inspired by what you read here or have a passion to share how your work with UK Data Service data has created impact, been innovative or opened up ethical or other considerations, then we’d very much welcome talking to you, so do get in touch!

A highlight for 2022 was publishing a post by Full Fact, the fact checking organisation. Their Head of Automated Fact Checking, Andy Dudfield, explored why fact checking is so vital in supporting democracies and individuals. He also highlighted how Full Fact benefits from being able to access data from the UK Data Service as part of their work.

While there may be challenges as the platform develops, we were able to showcase a mini-series in January exploring the challenges and ethical implications of using Twitter data.

Other mini-series during the year have included:

We also checked in with the Catalogue of Mental Health Measures and revisited research on ‘first in family’ students first discussed on the blog in 2018. Meanwhile, Data Orchard who have been researching data maturity in the voluntary and charity sector since 2015 discussed how a key element is the people involved.

Census

A casual observer might consider 2021 to be the year of the census (except in Scotland, of course, where it took place this year), but in fact filling in the form is only a small part of the process and releases of data from England, Wales and Northern Ireland has only begun during the past few months.

The UK Data Service has been at the forefront of making the data available to our many users, in academic circles, the VCSE sector, thinktanks and beyond. We’ve updated our bulk download platform (and plan to develop it further in 2023) and made sure releases of census data are available as soon as possible after being made available by the census agencies – on many occasions we’ve had them ready to download the very same day!

Not only that, but we have worked with colleagues to open discussion and understanding of how the data can be interpreted and explored how censuses have both changed and stayed the same over the years.

We’ve had the good fortune to celebrate the work of a pioneer of population modelling, Professor David Martin, as he steps away from the UK Data Service (although not from his many other fields of work!).

How have the data helped us understand and improve the UK housing and homelessness situation?

We were fortunate to work with Professors Glen Bramley and Suzanne Fitzpatrick of the Institute for Social Policy, Housing and Equalities Research (i-SPHERE) of Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

Their extensive bodies of research over a number of years have used data in the UK Data Service collection (including the Labour Force Survey , the English Housing Survey and Understanding Society) to both help understand the UK situation with regards to housing and homelessness as well as influence policy.

For over a decade, they have been part of a team creating the Homelessness Monitor in partnership with Crisis, the homelessness charity, and the Jospeh Rowntree Foundation. This longitudinal study provides an independent analysis of the homelessness impacts of recent economic and policy developments in the UK.

The impact of their work has been wide, including:

  • underpinning a private member’s bill which became the Homeless Reduction Act 2017
  • improving official homelessness statistics
  • improving public scrutiny of the Government’s record on homelessness
  • influencing targets and Government research programmes
  • changing policy in Scotland
  • changing approaches to social and affordable housing

To find out more, read the case study The Homelessness Monitor and Homelessness Projections.

What are we looking forward to about 2023?

Poverty, deprivation and the cost-of-living crisis

As well as building on promoting the impact of the housing and homelessness work, the impact team will be developing a focus on the use of data in research to understand and try to improve the lives of those in poverty and deprivation.

This year, we’ve already published a case study by the Living Wage Foundation showcasing the impact of their ‘Living Hours’ campaign and associated research and will be building on this and other work we’ve previously undertaken (for instance, identifying the use of data in submissions to a UK Parliament committee inquiry into children in poverty and promoting the work of the Social Metrics Commission in creating new poverty indicators).

We will work with partners working in this field to demonstrate even further the benefits and impact of data in the UK Data Service collection to enhance work in an area which affects increasing numbers.

We will also explore calculating the Townsend and Carstairs indices from the released 2021 census data and making this available through our platform which already holds the Townsend scores for 2011.

Data Impact Fellows

In January, we will launch applications for our latest round of Data Impact Fellows with a focus on early careers researchers from academia or the VCSE sector working in the areas of poverty, deprivation, housing or homelessness.

With a £2000 award, support to develop their ideas of data impact and opportunities to develop a case study with us and showcase their journey on the Data Impact Blog, this is an opportunity to look out for!

Data Impact 2023

Later in the year, we plan to run an event showcasing data-enhanced work in the area of poverty and deprivation, sharing discussion about what the data can and cannot do and bringing interested parties together to explore next steps.


About the author

Neil Dymond-Green is the Service Director for Impact for the UK Data Service. 

You can find more about the UK Data Service training and events on our website.

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