Administrative Data Research Centres 2018

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Geosciences


Administrative data (that is, information collected primarily for administrative purposes) has long contributed to central government and other statistics. However in the last 15-20 years, technological advancement has seen something of a revolution with the formation of very large administrative databases held by central and local government, and by specialist agencies across the UK. The existence of such databases raises the possibility that administrative data could become, in an annoymised form, a core resource for social science academic research. Many northern European countries (notably Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) are further ahead in this regard, as they have placed much greater emphasis on developing national 'register data' from the 1980s onwards, to replace national censuses and major surveys.

In response to this possibility and supported by the ESRC the Administrative Data Research Centre - Scotland (ADRC-S), with the NHS Scotland and the Scottish government, has developed a service for carrying out anonymised administrative based data research in Scotland. This has allowed important insights to be gained on a very diverse set of issues including: the impact of homelessness on the health, the type of care given to children been look after by the state, the impact of poverty on child development, what care is being given at the end of life in Scotland and how moving helps or hinders Social mobility.

The existing service has principally been based on gaining permission and assembling, project by project process, datasets to be used by a single research group. Whilst a sensible approach during the initiation of the collaboration, it is now apparent that in order to work more efficiently, safely, fairly and to save taxpayers money, research ready data holdings are needed, based on unified process of governance and permissions.

This proposal for a next phase funding aims to achieve this. Working in partnership with the Scottish National Statistical Agency, the ADRC-S will, in particular, provide evidence of value within this new approach. It will do this through a series of strategically important pieces of work. These will particularly focus on key issues within Scotland's National Performance Framework which gives 'an overall vision of the country we want to be'.

The focus will be on these board themes:
- 'Poverty and Fair Work' - which will explore patterns of employment, including insecurity and progression; on the material benefits of employment, and the extent to which it reduces poverty
risks; and on the relationship between employment and health.
- 'Inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe communities' - will address a set of questions around shifting patterns of crime, justice and emergency service demand that are underpinned by
vulnerability and mental health within the population.

- 'Realising our potential' - aims to better understand the progress of young people looked after by the state. What is the impact of different care profiles (e.g. look after at home or in care) and
frequency of changes of states on children's outcomes, and particularly their educational outcomes
- 'Healthy and active' will explore the interactions between health and social care and the implications of informal care for service delivery for older people. In regards younger it will investigate
emerging priorities around: mental health and well-being, poverty and inequality and physical activity and in particular how these develop across the lifecourse.

The adrc-s team will work closely with its NHS partner to provide other teams access to the emerging research datasets.

Planned Impact

We identify 3 core beneficiaries for the work of the ADRC-S/ ADR partnership. We will focus our effort on the first of these during the first phase of funding at the request of the ESRC.

1. Departments and services supplying administrative data to the centre

a) Benefits in terms of data management

The main data owning departments we are working with: Scottish Government, Police Scotland, National Records for Scotland, NHS Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Scottish Ambulance Service, local government, DWP and HMRC, will benefit from engagement from a data management perspective.

Engagement with the partnership will, in the medium term, help to ease the resource burden on the data/statistics teams within the specified departments by reducing the burden for data from the academic community. This will be achieved by moving the data request approach to a more routine, regular single ingest of data. There will however be a short term increase in burden as these processes are established. We minimise this work by providing support from the partnership team (eg IG, data science etc.).

Engagement with the partnership will allow improvements data in management, metadata etc. to be achieved. The exposure of the partnership to data architects, data scientists may well lead to new insights into their own data structures.

Finally the anonymised linked datasets will allow the data controller to new analyses themselves that they could not have done easily themselves

b) Benefits in terms of policy

The research as carried out as part of the SIPs will make a significant contribution to policy making, practice and service delivery. We have well established working relationships with groups of stakeholders. They will steer the direction of the research, ensuring it speaks to current policy priorities and is of value in operational planning.

Specific policy areas - There is a rather large group of beneficiaries most of whom we have already been in discussion with. DWP have the central role in welfare and labour markets policy at UK level. Scottish Government plays an increasingly important role for welfare and employment programmes. For health, the key targets would be in NHS Health Scotland, the national board for public health. Beyond government, there are numerous third sector groups which campaign on welfare and employment policy. Strategic policy makers who develop policy at national level. It will also include policy makers and practitioners that develop policy at local level or deal with operational matters and service delivery, such as: central and local government departments; public sector bodies and Executive; communities of practice; and third sector/NGOs (e.g. Victim Support Scotland, Inspiring Scotland, Citizens Advice Scotland).
More generally professionals in various fields will benefit through a more evidence-based understanding of how support in one area impacts service use in another.

(2) Third sector organisations
Third sectors organisations who may wish to commission academic institutions to undertake more innovative research using administrative data with the resultant information being used to develop and refine programmes of intervention.

(3) The Public
We intend within our public engagement/ communication work with the public to jointly derive statistics, which though generated through standard objective research methods, are driven by the particular questions important to a community. The aim will be to allow communities to come to understand important aspects of society as it effects their lives but also importantly to empower them, through the provision of an 'evidence base', to impact the policy making process.


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