Former Prime Minister Theresa May announced the Race Disparity Audit in August 2016.
The aim of the project was to gather and publish data collected by the government about the different experiences of the UK’s ethnic groups.
The Race Disparity Audit was published in October 2017. Data from the audit is continually updated on the Ethnicity facts and figures website.
This page explains:
- who our users are
- how the project was developed
- the underlying goals and principles
To be sure the project would provide value, hundreds of users have been interviewed or involved in user research since the start. It was important to understand who our users are, their different needs and how they might already be met elsewhere, and which of their problems could be solved by Ethnicity facts and figures.
The groups of users included:
- members of the public from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities
- government policy officials and analysts
- non-government organisations
- public service managers (for example, headteachers and Jobcentre managers)
Users came from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, locations and demographic profiles to reflect the diversity of the website’s user base.
The needs of users vary a great deal, as does their understanding of statistical data. For this reason, the content of the website had to be clear and meaningful for people who are not experts in statistics and data. The website also had to be accessible, so that people with impairments or disabilities could use the service. Users with more expertise in statistics needed access to the raw data itself and more detailed background information about how it was collected and analysed.
Trust was an important factor across the different user groups. They all wanted to feel confident that the information on the website was reliable and impartial, and presented in a way that was of value to the public.
Principles and good practice
There are well-established principles, standards and practices for working on data and statistics, and for delivering digital services. These helped the team produce work of a high quality that could be trusted and understood by users.
The Code of Practice for Statistics sets out the necessary principles and practices to produce statistics that are trustworthy, high quality and of public value.
The Service Standard is a set of criteria to help government departments create and run good services. All public-facing services must meet the standard. It is used by government departments and the Government Digital Service to check whether a service is good enough for public use.
We initially followed the Office for National Statistics guidance on writing about statistics and visualising data and the GOV.UK style guide for style, spelling and grammar conventions. Since launching the website, we have also created our own guidance on writing for Ethnicity facts and figures.
Consultation and engagement
In order to benefit from good practice, expertise and rigorous public consultation and testing, the project has engaged users and stakeholders in co-designing the programme.
For example, we used the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)’s measurement framework as a reference point for the structure of the website.
The EHRC framework monitors progress on equality and human rights in England, Scotland and Wales and is organised into broad subject areas, or ‘domains’, indicators and measures of equality.
The website framework has a similar structure in the form of topics, sub-topics and data pages:
- important aspects of life in the UK like health, education and housing are organised into topics
- sub-topics group together similar subject areas within a topic – for example, patient experiences and patient outcomes under health
- data pages capture specific facts and figures relating to a subject area – for example, GP services, dental services and hospital care under patient experiences
This structure has been thoroughly tested to check that users can easily find the content they are looking for.
The initial review asked all government departments to identify what information on ethnicity they had on important aspects of life in the UK. Devolved administrations were asked to participate and share their data.
Local authority data is not included unless it is also available from a central department – for example, the Department for Education provides school data in England at a local level.
Data from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is included in areas that are not devolved – for example, the Home Office reports on victims of crime across the UK.
Prioritising the work
During this initial review, government departments identified a lot of data which it was not possible to collect and publish in the time we had available.
In consultation with the departments and based on user research, we agreed a set of criteria to shorten the list for the first release. The agreed prioritisation criteria were:
- does the dataset relate to a government priority?
- has it been identified by future users of the website as a priority for them?
- how much work is involved in preparing the data for publication?
Collecting the data
A format for collecting content from departments was established based on Cabinet Office research, data expertise.
The data varies greatly in size, consistency and quality. There is limited standardisation, and classification of different ethnicities can differ widely depending on how and when data was collected. A common format was needed to ensure trust, quality and value across the content presented on the website. Each data page contains 2 file templates:
- a data format file, used to populate charts and tables
- commentary, which explains the facts and figures shown and gives technical details on how the data was collected
The data pages went through additional checks to ensure their quality and consistency, before being uploaded to the site.
The website was developed based on extensive user research and the government’s Service Standard. This work has been undertaken in 3 stages:
- discovery: understand the project scope and identify users
- alpha: prototype the website, refine user needs and identify the technology and skills needed
- beta: build the platform and continue testing extensively with users
Ethnicity facts and figures has been reviewed by experts by means of service assessments to check it meets the required standards. This rigorous approach ensures a government service is good enough for public use and meets user needs.