Adult Social Care Review – Wales report

The Office for Statistics Regulation is exploring the quality and public value of adult social care statistics in the United Kingdom. This report presents the findings for Wales.

Adult social care can affect and improve the lives of many people. Society has changed greatly over the last few decades, so it is important to understand more about how social care is currently delivered and how this might need to change in the future. This report explores the current situation in relation to adult social care statistics in Wales, and examines the extent to which the statistics are meeting users’ needs. It identifies steps Welsh Government should take to address users’ concerns and drive up both the quality and value of the statistics.

We will maintain contact with Welsh Government as they work to resolve the issues affecting these statistics. We will also engage further with users of the statistics to ensure that planned improvements meet their needs.

We will publish reports detailing the findings for England and Scotland in Autumn 2019.

 

Related Links:

Systemic Review Outline: Adult Social Care

The Public Value of Devolved Public Finance Statistics

Background

For those interested in holding the public sector to account for the distribution of public spending around the countries and regions and for the funds needed to sustain that spending, getting accurate perceptions of what the public sector is up to and how much it affects us is challenging. They face what is sometimes referred to as the fiscal illusion. Fiscal illusion suggests that when government revenues are not completely transparent or are not fully perceived by taxpayers, then the cost of government is seen to be less expensive than it is.

From our monitoring of devolved public finance statistics and other fiscal data about devolved public finances we noticed scepticism about the degree to which the statistics about public finances (devolved or for the UK) portray an accurate picture. Given the apprehension about the trustworthiness of public finance statistics it’s difficult to appreciate that the UK and the devolved countries are among the world’s most transparent when it comes to publishing finance data. The Whole of Government Accounts (WGA) for the UK, is widely regarded as a world-leading development in public sector financial reporting. WGA has provided a step change in the ability of the government to understand and manage its financial position. The improved transparency provided by the WGA has helped the UK Parliament to scrutinise the effects of government policy better, aiding the work of the Public Accounts Committee and other parliamentary committees in holding the UK government to account. For devolved countries users do not have access to similar insights into the public finances that the WGA provides for the UK.

The financial environment for devolved countries is changing with new tax and borrowing powers in some countries bringing about increasing autonomy with a commensurate need to strengthen accountability.  There are multiple sources of data about the taxes raised and public spending in the UK’s countries and regions which may be confusing to some users. There is a clear need for consistency between different sources of these statistics (what we refer to as coherence) alongside the new statistics which will be introduced.

We have been thinking about public value of devolved public finance statistics with a focus focusing on the clarity of the insights and messages from the statistics (transparency) and how consistent the statistics are between the different sources (coherence).  The statistics play a central role of these statistics in public debate and we wanted to be assured that the obvious value in this data is being fully exploited. Devolved governments face multiple demands for new data and we wished to explore whether data needs around the public assets and liabilities and the changes made due to investment have been considered and whether these data are likely to be published in the medium term

What we did and why?

Our thinking was informed by conducting extensive desk research looking at:

  • The existing published devolved public finance statistics
  • Existing data on the results of the Block Grant Adjustments to the Barnett formula and the consequences on devolved funding
  • Comment in the public domain about the strengths and limitations of current statistics and data on devolved government funding
  • Modern investment statements from advanced small countries such as New Zealand providing commentary accessible to the citizen in the street

We engaged with statisticians with the statisticians that produce devolved public finance statistics and data and with the users of such statistics including:

  • Official independent forecasters
  • policy-makers in devolved and Central Government departments
  • Economic consultants, researchers and academics
  • Audit bodies both nationally and in devolved countries
  • Regional and devolved country-based think tanks
  • Media
  • Business Bodies
  • Parliamentarians and their research and library bodies
  • Citizens with an interest in inter-generational equity and fiscal responsibility

What we want to happen as a result

We have been encouraging statistical producers to engage with users and potential users of these statistics to address their priorities with respect to their perceptions of the trustworthiness of the data, the insights derived from the data and the consistency between data coming from different sources. Further, we will seek to be assured that data needs in respect to devolved countries’ assets and liabilities have been considered and assigned a priority appropriate to identified users’ needs for such data.

Timing

  • Phase 1: Before the end of 2018 we had considered whether there was scope to enhance the transparency and coherence of the existing devolved public finance statistics.
  • Phase 2: Between the start of 2019 and April 2019 we gathered further information on the extent to which users have articulated needs for data on devolved countries assets, liabilities and their net position.

Sharing our findings

As this work is planned in two phases, we are sharing our findings and recommendations based on the two phases outlined above. As our work focuses on public value, of which transparency is a key aspect, we are presenting the findings using a multi-media approach including:

In addition we are publishing today our regulatory report of the findings from our assessment of some of the main source statistics on spending – HM Treasury’s Public Expenditure Spending Analysis: Country and Regional Analysis

 

Related Links:

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” – Steps towards transparent fiscal statistics (May 2019)

Statistics on Government Spending: Country and Regional Analysis (May 2019)

Systemic Review Outline: Public value of statistics on public finances in a devolved UK, July 2018

 

NHS Performance Measures

Over the last two years the Office of Statistics Regulation has investigated different concerns over accident and emergency (A&E) statistics in England, Scotland and Wales.

We have worked closely with statisticians producing these statistics on A&E attendance and waiting times to make timely and informed interventions.

This report summarises our interventions and serves as a vehicle to develop and innovate the presentation of performance measures more widely.


Related links:

Ed Humpherson to Mark Svenson

Ed Humpherson to Glyn Jones

Ed Humpherson to Roger Halliday

 

Statistics from the Welsh Housing Conditions Survey

An assessment of the trustworthiness, quality and public value of statistics from the Welsh Housing Conditions Survey, produced by the Welsh Government.


Judgement on National Statistics status

We judge that the statistics from the Welsh Housing Conditions Survey (WHCS) can be designated as new National Statistics once the Welsh Government demonstrates to us that it has enhanced these statistics in the ways described in chapters one to three of this report. This report includes four Requirements.

The WHCS is the first national housing conditions survey in Wales since the 2008 Living in Wales survey. The Welsh Government will publish the Welsh Housing Conditions Survey 2017-18: Headline report (Headline report) in November 2018 followed by more detailed topic reports and analysis from early 2019. Together, these statistical outputs are expected to provide a detailed picture of housing conditions in Wales.


Key findings

Housing conditions is an important policy area, within the UK and internationally, with the quality of housing affecting health and the wider well-being of the population. The Welsh Government has a number of legislative obligations and strategic commitments that require evidence on housing conditions, including the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and The Fuel Poverty Strategy (2010). As such, the WHCS statistics will fill an evidence gap; they will be used to monitor the changing condition of the housing stock in Wales, to measure work being undertaken to the stock and to evaluate the impact of Welsh Government policies.

The Welsh Government conducted extensive user engagement during the development of the survey and production of the statistics; the statistical team actively sought input from policy officials and external stakeholders throughout. The Welsh Government has taken on board users’ views in the design of the survey and the dissemination of the statistics, including those gathered via an online user survey. The users we spoke to were positive about the way Welsh Government statisticians engaged with them.

We were not able to review the Headline report in full or the data tables as these were still in development at the time of the assessment. However, we reviewed an early draft of the Headline report. In general, the statistical commentary is presented clearly, and, where possible, the Headline report makes comparisons between the Welsh housing stock and housing conditions and those of other UK countries, and over time within Wales, which enhances the value of the statistics. To better support users’ interpretation of the statistics, key messages should be drawn out, either through an executive summary in the Headline report or modifying the report so it is shorter.

The Welsh Government collaborates effectively with UK and international housing statisticians. It has established links with housing statisticians in the Republic of Ireland; it is providing support and advice on building a business case for an Irish housing conditions survey. It meets regularly (every 2-3 months) with the housing condition leads in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to keep abreast of housing condition survey developments and outputs, and to discuss methodological improvements.

The survey methodology is well-established and sound; it is similar to that of other UK housing conditions surveys and previous housing conditions surveys in Wales and therefore provides data that are comparable across the UK and consistent over time. The Welsh Government follows national and international good practice by adopting recommended and recognised systems and frameworks for modelling measures of housing condition, which ensures that the measures are harmonised.

The WHCS is a survey of just over 2,500 properties, with the sample drawn from the National Survey for Wales. The main limitation of the survey is its relatively small sample size; it only allows analysis at the national level. This limitation was highlighted to users during the survey topic development phase.

The Welsh Government is transparent about the methods used and the quality of the statistics. The Technical report contains detailed information about the sample design, data validation, data processing and data modelling. The Quality report is comprehensive, covering all aspects of the quality of the data and statistics. It clearly explains the main strengths and limitations of the WHCS and provides an overview of the data quality assurance arrangements used by the surveyors, Building Research Establishment (BRE; the survey contractors) and the Welsh Government. To increase users’ confidence in the methods and the robustness of the estimates, the Welsh Government should publish the pilot survey summary report and a summary of the steps it took to minimise surveyor variability and bias.

The Welsh Government established a close working relationship with BRE, and BRE maintained a constructive relationship with ONS, which provided the WHCS sample. The data collection and processing requirements were clearly defined from the outset and the Welsh Government and BRE told us this approach worked well.

The Welsh Government adopted a transparent approach to user engagement. Stakeholders receive regular updates about the progress of the WHCS, the online user survey about the statistical outputs was publicised widely, and the Welsh Government published a publication plan. The statistical team followed the Welsh Government’s Statistical Quality Management Strategy; adopting a transparent and consistent approach to quality gives users confidence in the quality of its statistical services and products.

Resource constraints negatively impacted the Welsh Government’s ability to publish timely summary reports and affected its plans for gathering external feedback on the Headline report. To provide assurance that future plans for housing conditions statistics and data will not be impacted by resource constraints, the Welsh Government needs to review and update its resourcing contingency plans.

The Welsh Government has a strong data governance process in place for the WHCS. The statistical team followed the Welsh Government’s Statement on Confidentiality and Data Access, which gives users confidence that the data are kept secure and that the team respects individuals’ rights to privacy. For the first time in Wales, data were recorded using digital pens, which ensures that personal information is kept safe and secure.


Related Links:

Confirmation as National Statistics (December 2018)

Ed Humpherson to Glyn Jones (October 2018)

Insolvency Service Enforcement Outcomes 2016/17

This document reports a breach of the Code of Practice for Official Statistics, or the relevant Pre-release Access to Official Statistics Orders, to which the Code applies as if it included these orders.