Office for National Statistics

ONS's strong existing relationships with government departments and successful established service are important in helping to establish ADR UK as a trusted partner for administrative data research.

The partners

To support the ADR UK partnership, the ONS has committed to expanding and improving its established Secure Research Service – the organisation’s facility for providing secure access to de-identified public sector data for research – and significantly increasing the range of administrative data available. ONS will focus on increased data reuse to deliver efficiencies to government departments (who only need to provide data once), and maximise the use of this data by identifying shared priorities and objectives with government departments.

Within the ONS there are designated teams working together to meet the needs of government and researchers: the Strategic Data Curation team; the Data Acquisition team; and the Data Integration team. The role of Strategic Data Curation is to identify potential research and administrative data sources by exploring gaps in existing research and working to establish the needs of both government and researchers. The Data Acquisition team liaise with data owners to allow datasets from multiple departments and bodies to be linked together. Finally, the Data Integration team are the experts in linkage and management of data, producing linked datasets or outputs of administrative datasets which are then de-identified and made available to researchers through the SRS.

It is via the SRS – which is an accredited processor under the Digital Economy Act (DEA) – that ONS provides access for accredited researchers working on defined and accredited research projects which serve the public good. The SRS provides a safe setting as part of the Five Safes framework used to protect data confidentiality. ONS procedures mean that analysis results don’t disclose sensitive information, and the SRS operates within a legal framework with penalties for breaking these rules. More information about becoming an accredited researcher can be found on the ONS website.

Most datasets are available to access through remote access to the SRS. In some instances, the data can only be accessed from a SafePod, an approved Safe Setting or a secure connection to one. Safe Settings are located at ONS offices in Newport (Gwent) and Titchfield, as well as at locations in Belfast and Glasgow. The ONS SRS Metadata Catalogue lists all available and any associated access restrictions.

How is it funded?

ONS is funded directly by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) with a dedicated portion of the total investment in ADR UK, initially from July 2018 to March 2022. To find out more about how ADR UK is funded, see About Us. Further details of the grant awarded to ONS can be seen on UK Research & Innovation (UKRI)’s Gateway to Research platform.

ONS datasets

The ONS Metadata Catalogue makes it easier to discover the growing collection of datasets available for research in the Secure Research Service. Browse datasets from ONS.

Explore the datasets available