Note: this blog post was updated on 27 August 2020.

Today we published the findings of our review of user engagement in the statistics producers that make up the Defra Group. The Defra Group produces a large and broad collection of statistics covering many topic areas, including food, farming and the environment, and the statistics have a wide range of users and uses.

When we review compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics, we often look at how individual teams engage with their users. With this review we have looked much wider. This approach, the first time we’ve looked at user engagement in this way, has allowed us to understand how individual teams and the Defra Group as a whole engage with their users and to identify the key factors that can make user engagement effective and impactful. We focused our review on a set of 10 statistics which reflects the diversity of Defra Group statistics.

Although the target audience for the report is the Defra Group, we hope that other statistics producers will find it helpful, including our framework of Telling users about the statistics, Understanding use and Listening to users, and use it to inform their thinking about user engagement. We will be adding case studies from the report to the online Code of Practice as examples of best practice in user engagement.

The world has changed dramatically in recent months due to COVID-19. This means that statistics teams may have to become more creative in engaging with users and move more discussions with users online. We recognise the challenges of COVID-19 for the Defra Group and have recommended that teams take a flexible and proportionate approach to user engagement.

We’re not the only ones with an interest in user engagement. The Government Statistical Service (GSS) Best Practice and Impact Division is currently developing a new strategy for user engagement which will be published later this year. Have a look at Tegwen Green’s blog, also published today, which gives an update on this important work. Our review of Defra Group user engagement complements the work on the new GSS strategy, and we will continue to work closely with the Best Practice and Impact team to support its development.