This is a case study for Principle V3: Clarity and Insight
While the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has responsibility for administering most benefits available in Great Britain, some benefits such as Tax Credits and Child Benefit are administered by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
In March 2020, DWP and HMRC produced a new joint-release for the first time on children in low-income families (CILIF) at a local area level. This release has replaced DWP’s Children in out-of-work benefit households and HMRC’s Personal tax credits: Children in low-income families local measure releases. The new statistics provide a more coherent picture of children in low-income families by drawing together administrative data from both producers to provide insights on benefits, tax credit and employment incomes within families from which local area estimates of children in low-income families are published. From 2021, this release is now solely produced by DWP.
DWP also produces Benefit Combination statistics, which offer a picture of the number of individuals claiming at least one benefit as well as the number of claimants for each combination of benefits. Currently users need to look at statistics produced by both the DWP and HMRC to gain a complete picture of how many families and households are claiming benefits.
DWP and HMRC have been working together to develop a joint publication which would bring together the Tax Credits and Child Benefit statistics with those produced by DWP. There have been challenges with delivering this work due to the difference in timing of the data feeds that DWP and HMRC work with. However, they are working towards producing annual statistics on the numbers of individuals claiming common combinations of benefits which DWP and HMRC are responsible for, on a common snapshot date.
The Heads of Profession for Statistics in DWP and HMRC have discussed this joint publication and are supportive of the work to develop the experimental Benefit Combinations statistics. In the interim, DWP has provided details in the DWP benefit statistics background note of benefits administered by HMRC and signposted to relevant HMRC statistics. While work is still ongoing to develop the joint publication, it is great to see the joint focus on aiding public understanding of benefit provision by developing these statistics.
This example shows how producers can work together across departmental boundaries to make greater use of existing data sources through linking, and the benefits this brings in terms improved insights and coherence across a statistical topic.