Recently, I’ve mostly been … talking with different groups about gaps in their evidence-base for decision-making. There were many recurring themes, but two stuck out for me: the lack of good data on equalities groups. And also, that people weren’t always aware of the information that’s already out there.
So, in the spirit of joining these two themes up, I want to show that there are some good sources of data out there on equalities groups – and we should be using them.
Data4nr – signposting data: If you want to get hold of equalities datasets available on the web (for Local Authority areas and below), Data for Neighbourhoods and Regeneration (Data4nr) is worth a look. This signposts to all the major public datasets, across all the government websites – one click from the Data4nr site gets you straight to a specific dataset. It also allows you to filter datasets by key equalities groups (eg age, gender, ethnicity etc), theme (health, education, economy etc), and what geographical level the data is held at. The service is run by OCSI on behalf of the Department of Communities and Local Government, updated fortnightly, and is free to all.
IDeA Equality mapping: The IDeA Equality Mapping programme has been developing work around what information is available, which National Indicators could be disaggregated by equalities group, and how people are using this locally. They have also been running seminars over the last couple of months, with presentations on their Community of Practice (login needed).
South-East Equality and Diversity Data Tool: If you’re in the South-East, the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) and the South East Intelligent Network (SEE-IN) have produced a comprehensive mapping of socio-economic data for the six core equality groups against their geography of interest. The Equality and Diversity Data Tool enables colleagues in partner agencies (public, private and 3rd sector) to access baseline data on these groups.
Equality Measurement Framework: If you’re interested in knowing about all the potential data sources, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has been looking at measures of equality. They’ve commissioned a hefty review of all the major national surveys and administrative data sources – 459 pages long, but some good stuff – but note that much of this data will only be robust at national or regional level. The EHRC is also shortly to publish its indicators for the Equality Measurement Framework [I’ll add links once this is published]. This will provide a set of measures that track progress for different equalities groups under ten domains – Life, Health, Physical security etc – and cover issues around inequality of outcome (ie groups faring badly compared with others), inequality of process (ie discrimination), and inequality of autonomy (ie how much choice and control do people have).
There are big gaps in the information needed for good policy-making around: the size and makeup of equalities groups; inequality between different groups; comparisons and benchmarking across areas; and where different equalities groups fare badly on specific outcomes.
However, there is lots of good data out there, and we need to be making the most of it. Then we can start identifying (and plugging) the real gaps in knowledge.
Tom Smith, OCSI