Voluntary Application: Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

Winner of the Award for Statistical Excellence in Trustworthiness, Quality and Value 2020 (previously Voluntary Application Award)

“72 people died in the Grenfell Tower Tragedy. Since then we have been collecting data on the materials on the outside of tall residential buildings to understand and estimate the number of buildings with dangerous materials on them and help evidence the government response. We have endeavoured to present these statistics in a way that is objective and transparent and in line with the Code of Practice so that the public, media and politicians understand the size of the problem that government faces and the progress we are making in remediating these buildings.

Everyone who has worked on this publication since it started has worked hard to ensure we adhere as much as we can to the Code of Practice whilst recognising that this is management information to support operational activity in the remediation of high rise buildings. This award recognises their efforts in helping to ensure we never have another tragedy like Grenfell.”

Paul Vickers, Head of the Building Safety Data and Analysis

Who are Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)?

Our job is to create great places to live and work, and to give more power to local people to shape what happens in their area. Our responsibilities include driving up housing supply, increasing home ownership, and devolving powers and budgets to boost local growth in England. We publish statistics relating to deprivation, housing and homelessness, local government finance, planning performance and land use.

Applying the Code

Our Building Safety Programme Monthly Data Release started in December 2017 – following the Grenfell Tower tragedy. It provides the public, stakeholders and Parliament with the latest data (management information) on identification, remediation and remediation funding of high-rise residential buildings with Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding – reassuring the public on progress and holding HMG and building owners to account in make buildings safe.

While Trustworthiness, Quality and Value (TQV) were core to our commitment to the Data Release from the start, we made a voluntary commitment to comply with the Code from April 2018.

As one of HMG’s early trailblazers on voluntary compliance, the Building Safety team have promoted the principles of TQV across the department, coaching others in voluntarily complying with the Code when full official statistics status is not possible.

Trustworthiness, Quality and Value

Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy there was considerable speculation about numbers of high-rise residential buildings with ACM cladding, and public and media concerns about certainty of estimates. Honesty and integrity are key principles to the monthly published Data Release which is managed by professional statisticians and overseen by the Department’s Statistics Head of Profession. As such, data governance is tightly controlled, with a clear published privacy notice explaining why data are collected, data sharing and the legal basis for processing data.

We have a transparent process for data collection, processing and publication. This process is clearly set out in the Release, and is labelled ‘Appendix 1’. From the outset, we have preannounced future publication dates; a marked change from the previous six months when statistics were released on an ad-hoc basis.

By producing a focussed Release, with pre-announced dates, we showed commitment to releasing regular statistics – demonstrating beyond doubt that we would publish statistics whatever they showed.

To ensure quality, our professional statisticians assess the suitability and quality of all data processes and sources used in the Release. Data originates from multiple sources. We have been working with providers from the outset to understand and improve data quality.

Two good examples are data on number of dwellings and data on remediation funding sources. These data were initially published with quality caveats, but work over the last six months with data providers has improved the quality considerably. This has communicated a message to these data providers about quality of building safety data.

Our approach to building safety data is used to drive forward progress on building remediation and to hold building owners, the construction sector, LAs and HMG to account. We have a long-term plan to increase data in the Release to build and communicate a clear evidence base.