NEWS - Future-proofing investment into administrative data research announced in Scotland

An initiative that has transformed how administrative data can be used securely to enrich policy to support the people of Scotland, continues to 2026 with £14.6m investment.

Administrative Data Research Scotland (ADR Scotland) has been awarded £14.6 million until 2026 as part of the £90 million UK-wide Administrative Data Research UK (ADR UK) investment by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

ADR Scotland combines the expertise of academic researchers associated with the Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research with specialists in the Scottish Government’s Data for Research Unit. Together they are transforming how de-identified public sector administrative data in Scotland is utilized. By conducting secure data linkage research on a suite of critical issues, their work is informing policy decisions to help improve the lives of the people of Scotland. Their work closely aligns with key areas identified in the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework such as children and young people, health and the environment, as well as emerging priorities such as Covid-19 response and recovery.

The investment will ensure that the strides to better use and enhance administrative data can continue to help tackle key issues facing Scotland. The funding will support data acquisition and cutting-edge research, as well as further develop the secure data infrastructure, research capability and training to support future generations of researchers and data analysts.

ADR Scotland Co-Director and Chief Statistician for Scotland, Roger Halliday said:

Scotland is fortunate to have some of the best data in the world. Bringing this data together can help address complex social challenges and fill vital evidence gaps to systematically improve the lives of the people of Scotland, saving time, money and lives. ADR Scotland has invested significantly in its infrastructure and expertise to ensure that de-identified data can be analysed safely and securely. We are continuing to develop our library of reusable datasets that will encourage more policy relevant research, with recent work focusing on our rich portfolio of data looking at children’s lives and outcomes. This vital work will help us better understand the world in which we live. 

The continued investment into ADR Scotland and the ADR UK partnership signifies the importance of this work here in Scotland and throughout the wider UK. We look forward to the next four years as we enable access to a richer evidence base that will help us shape and support future policy decisions for the people of Scotland.

ADR Scotland Co-Director and Chair in Geography at the University of Edinburgh, Professor Chris Dibben said

We are delighted to build on our work for the next four years. With this investment, we will continue to provide data-driven insights on major social challenges from Covid-19 and end of life care, to children's outcomes and active travel. We will also develop tools and platforms to improve the types of administrative data research we can do - developing historical data for intergenerational analyses and geospatial data to enhance our understanding of people and place.

Since the partnership was established in late 2018, ADR Scotland has focused on transforming the data linkage infrastructure. Working with a range of organisations and stakeholders, this new infrastructure allows datasets to be stored, linked and used repeatedly for research. Responding to the public health emergency in March 2020, ADR Scotland worked quickly with partners to develop the Covid-19 holding and data catalogue with 29 datasets across Covid testing, vaccinations, NHS activity and 2011 Census. This linked data was essential in establishing an evidence base on the impact of the pandemic and supporting Scotland’s recovery.

ADR Scotland’s research also pivoted quickly to inform key areas of Scotland’s Covid-19 response producing insights into policing the pandemic, as well as providing valuable expertise for a commissioned project by the Scottish Government on risk factors for Covid-19. Most notably the creation of the CHI-UPRN residential linkage tool (CURL) helped enhance understanding of household transmission during the pandemic. This innovative tool has improved understanding of households and continues to be used to enrich analysis and insight.

ADR UK Director, Dr Emma Gordon said

In the first investment period, ADR Scotland demonstrated the value they can provide in shaping policy with data-driven evidence. This renewed investment ensures their work on themes such as children and young people and health and environment will continue. This will be particularly important as we emerge from the pandemic. It is only by linking the data of one government department or public service to another that we can really understand the impact of the pandemic on people, communities and the economy. I am confident that ADR Scotland’s data linkage, research and analysis will inform effective policy interventions that will aid recovery considerably. 

We remain dedicated to ensuring all our data linkage and research across the partnership is safe, secure and in the public interest. ADR Scotland’s investment in their data infrastructure has seen impressive steps to further support this. Their work on engaging the public is also helping us to demonstrate the public good that can come from administrative data research. By embedding meaningful public engagement, they are striving to ensure the public’s needs are addressed. I look forward to seeing the impact of ADR Scotland develop over the coming investment period.

ADR Scotland, alongside ADR Northern Ireland, ADR Wales, ADR England and ONS, make up the UK-wide ADR UK investment, which is funded by the ESRC/UKRI. 

Read more about ADR UK and how data can be accessed securely.

This article was published on 01 Mar 2022

Categories and tags