What impact does ADR UK’s work have?

Young people smiling

We therefore measure impact according to the effects that the research we enable has on public policy, and in turn on the lives of the people that these policies effect. Impact in this sense therefore means tangible real-world change that makes a positive difference to life in the UK.

Alongside impact on policy outcomes, it is also important to ADR UK that we have a lasting impact on the underlying process by which administrative data is accessed for research and used to inform policy, strengthening the link between academics and government and creating a sustainable research resource. In this way, ADR UK can have a legacy impact that enables others to build on our success and create further policy impacts in the future, potentially far outliving the life of this investment.

Examples of some of the impact that research enabled by ADR UK partners has already had can be explored below, demonstrating the huge potential that work in this area has.

Tackling fuel poverty in Wales

This ongoing research is being undertaken by ADR Wales.

ADR Wales’ research using linked administrative data has provided valuable insights into the connection between fuel poverty and health. 

In partnership with the Welsh Government, in 2017 ADR Wales discovered that those who accessed the government’s Warm Homes Nest scheme were less likely to seek help from the NHS and be admitted into hospital for cardiovascular and respiratory health issues. The ‘NEST’ measures appeared to have a protective effect, which was observed across all age groups.

This research suggested that fuel poverty schemes have a powerful impact beyond helping people heat their homes. Additionally, it led to an extension of funding for the scheme between 2018-21, as well as funding for the House Conditions Evidence Programme and the Housing Stock Analytical Resource. 

The most recent output from this research was published in October 2019, and was the first study to directly compare the health impacts of two different home energy efficiency schemes – one demand-led and one area-based. The study showed that there was no impact from either scheme on whether recipients experienced a health condition in the first place. However, for both schemes there was a reduction in GP events for respiratory health when compared with their respective control groups. The consistent pattern in reductions across schemes, whilst not always reaching statistical significance, suggests both schemes improve respiratory health. The findings are expected to inform future fuel poverty schemes in Wales.

Improving the lives of farmers

This research was undertaken by ADR Northern Ireland.

One of the most impactful pieces of research undertaken by ADR Northern Ireland involved both academic researchers and researchers from the Northern Ireland Department for Agriculture, the Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

One of DAERA’s key goals was to improve the lives of rural dwellers and farming communities, with prior research indicating that farmers are at a higher risk of health issues due to long working hours, physical labour, isolation and accidents. Another key target was to improve expertise and education among farming populations; in particular, IT literacy.

In conjunction with the ADRC-NI Statistical Methodological Officer at Queen’s University Belfast, this research project sought a better understanding of the health and educational issues within farming communities, linking these to DAERA policies and programmes. This allowed for comparison of the individual circumstances of farmers and farming families in order to better understand their livelihoods.

Utilising ADR NI’s ability to link data from the Northern Ireland Agricultural Census and the Population Census, researchers discovered key evidence to inform government policy, establish robust baseline information, provide evidence of need, and aid in research targeting and outcome monitoring.

This research has already saved DAERA £350,000 (the cost of conducting their own survey). You can find out more about the research and read the full report here.

Maternal employment and childcare

This research was undertaken by the Administrative Data Research Centre Northern Ireland (ADRC NI), partner of ADR Northern Ireland.

In the Spring of 2019 ADRC NI partnered with the Children for All Coalition to deliver a conference on childcare policy at Queen’s University, showcasing ADRC NI legacy research from Dr Corina Miller on factors affecting maternal employment and the positive role that co-resident grandparents can have in enabling mothers to get back into full and part-time employment. 

This research was formed in partnership with several local NGOs after a series of thematic data workshops delivered by our Public Engagement and Impact Manager during the ADRN (Administrative Data Research Network, the predecessor to ADR UK) period. It has continued to flourish as a partnership, delivering results for the NGOs involved in the form of data-driven, Northern Ireland-specific research to use as evidence in advocacy and lobbying, and for the researcher, whose research benefitted from additional datasets gained through these stakeholder relationships. 

A new Cross Party Working Group on Early Education and Childcare has begun meeting to draw up a Childcare Strategy for Northern Ireland. This group will be receiving evidence on an ongoing basis in order to develop the Strategy that will form the basis of any new legislation developed once devolved government is restored to Northern Ireland. It is anticipated that Dr Miller’s research will be a key piece of evidence, given our partnership with the Childcare for All Coalition who are key members of the Working Group.

This draws a direct line from ADRC NI's public engagement work with the voluntary and community sector to influencing a crucial new piece of policy that will positively impact families in Northern Ireland.

Early years support in Wales

This ongoing research is being undertaken by ADR Wales.

Flying Start is the Welsh Government’s flagship early years programme for families with children under four years old living in some of the most disadvantaged areas of Wales. By looking at and linking individual level Flying Start intervention data from local authorities across Wales – together with hospital admissions, A&E attendances, and education absence data – the project aims to provide a picture of the outcomes of families whose children are eligible for the Flying Start programme compared to those who live outside of Flying Start eligible areas. 

Led by our researchers working within academia and Welsh Government, this project has demonstrated the richness that can be drawn when linking data from policy areas and organisations that would otherwise have remained separate. The project has built an engaged stakeholder group, with representatives from the six local authorities involved in the pilot. The group has played a key role in guiding the direction of the project, including analysis based on their experiences of delivering the programme. 

Initial research findings for the City and County of Swansea have been produced by analysing data from the Flying Start programme linked with other health and education data. When comparing children living in the Swansea area who had received Flying Start health services and children who had received no Flying Start health services, the study found: a limited, preliminary indication of a possible positive impact of Flying Start on low birth weight and births to teenaged mothers; no impact on overall A&E attendances; a possible ‘protective effect’ of Flying Start on hospital admissions; a possible positive impact of Flying Start on primary school absences; and a possible positive impact of Flying Start on unauthorised primary school absences.

It is anticipated that the findings of this project will help policymakers to evaluate the impact of the Flying Start programme which may, in turn, shape future policy and direction. The findings will also be relevant to other research to evaluate area-based initiatives and early interventions to tackle poverty.

You can find out more about the initial findings of this research here.

Impact through collaboration: Health inequalities and the migrant population

In October 2019 the Administrative Data Research Centre Northern Ireland (ADRC NI) partnered with Stronger Together, a network for racial equality in Northern Ireland, to deliver a policy forum which brought together academic researchers, policymakers, service providers and community organisations to share best practice and evidence in the fields of health and racial inequality.

This was an opportunity to showcase several of ADRC NI’s research programmes that impact on health inequalities and the migrant population in Northern Ireland, including mental health and psychotropic drug use, access to orthodontic services, and uptake of disability benefits among migrants. There were presenters, panellists and participants from Kings College London, Cairde (a public health organisation from the Republic of Ireland), Equality Commission Northern Ireland (ECNI), Belfast City Council, Health and Social Care NI, the Public Health Agency, the Northern Ireland Council for Racial Equality (NICRE), and the British Red Cross.

ADRC NI’s unique approach centres engagement work with key stakeholders, understanding that not all knowledge is academic or generated within a university setting. While there is a necessary focus on excellence in independent academic research relevant to policymakers and government and the potential this has to impact on policy and service delivery, there is a need to get under the skin of data to understand the societal issues that it illustrates. ADRC NI does this by building engagement into our research from the beginning, weaving alternative viewpoints into the research design so the questions that emerge are dynamic and responsive to communities, policymakers, government and service delivery.

In this case, partnering with Stronger Together facilitated new relationships with key organisations, particularly the ECNI and the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA). ECNI has indicated that in future they will build ADRC NI findings and statistics into their equality monitoring and reporting. A research brief from the study on migrants and mental health was prepared for NILGA, who brought it to a coordinating group including the UK Home Office with the purpose of developing new protocols for vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers in Northern Ireland.

Engaging directly with stakeholders and folding their expertise into data-driven research not only adds value to research but creates clear pathways to impact. As the valuable insights gained from data-driven research are made clear, these experts, who have been given a genuine seat at the table, become advocates for our approach. They help not only to stabilise public opinion around data usage, but to demonstrate to government the viability of such research and engagement in developing better policy and better services, that truly support marginalised communities.

Access the full report on migrants and psychotropic drug use through the International Journal of Mental Health Systems website.

Visit the blog for more information about the ADR Northern Ireland migrant health project.

Ethnic spatial inequalities

This research was undertaken by researchers at the European University Institute and the London School of Economics using administrative data made available via the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Secure Research Service (SRS), which is being expanded and improved with ADR UK funding.

This research examined the interaction of inequalities related to ethnicity, social origins and neighbourhood composition on labour market outcomes using the ONS Longitudinal Study, aggregated UK Census data at the Ward level and Carstairs deprivation at the Ward level (Norman and Boyle 2014), made available by ONS. It resulted in the publication of two separate papers.

The first focused on the role co-ethnic concentration in childhood plays on second-generation labour market opportunities in adulthood (2016). It found that, given equality of individual and social origin characteristics, as well as levels of neighbourhood deprivation, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women raised in areas with the highest co-ethnic concentration are between 11-13 percentage points less likely to be in employment. Furthermore, there was a positive effect of co-ethnic concentration for Indian men.

The second explored second-generation ethnic minorities’ spatial outcomes in adulthood (i.e. their probabilities of residing in less diverse and less deprived neighbourhoods), given individual, social origin and childhood neighbourhood characteristics (2019). It discovered that there were persistent spatial inequalities between white British individuals and second-generation ethnic minorities in England and Wales. In addition, the share of second-generation ethnic minorities who reside, as adults, in less ethnically concentrated and less deprived neighbourhoods is much smaller compared to that of white British individuals.

This research feeds into the UK's policy agenda of fostering the equality of opportunities across ethnic groups and with neighbourhood integration. By linking individuals’ outcomes to the concentration of co-ethnics in their neighbourhood when growing up, the research is able to provide a new explanation of ethnic inequality that had yet to be addressed. It suggests that ethnic spatial segregation is, in part, the product of time-persisting ethnic inequalities in access to neighbourhoods and that these inequalities are conditioned both by childhood and adult resources.

The research highlights that in the development of a more effective social mobility policy for minorities, the impact of neighbourhood ethnic segregation and the long-term dynamics behind the production and reproduction of ethnic spatial inequalities must be taken into account.

Effectiveness of burglary security in England and Wales

This research was undertaken by researchers at Nottinghham Trent University using linked administrative data provided via the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Secure Research Service (SRS), which is being expanded and improved with ADR UK funding.

This research was lead by Professor Andromachi Tseloni, and explores the security hypothesis concerning the domestic burglary drop in England and Wales since 1993.  

It is common to use burglar alarms as a deterrent against domestic crime, and previous research has suggested that this has been proven to be effective. This study looked to corroborate these findings by linking data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) (2011/2012) and the British Crime Survey (1992-2010/2011) to compare security profiles of burgled households against all households, based on the CSEW Crime Prevention and Victim modules data.

It was found that a combination of window locks, indoor lights on a timer, door double locks or deadlocks, and external lights on a timer or sensor proves 49 times more protection than no security. A surprising discovery was that homes with just a burglary alarm and nothing else have a slightly higher burglary risk than homes with no security at all. Homes with no security experience a four-fold in incidents compared to homes with a combination of security devices. 

This research won the ONS Research Excellence Awards 2019. It has already made a positive impact on the Neighbourhood Watch, the Rosetta Burglary Task Force, Nottinghamshire Police, Leicestershire Police, and Nottingham City Council.

Pension evaluation in the public sector

This research was undertaken by researchers at the University of Sussex and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research using administrative data made available via the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Secure Research Service (SRS), which is being expanded and improved with ADR UK funding.

This research was lead by Professor Peter Dolton, and compares and measures Total Reward over the lifetime and compares it in different occupations within the public sector. Data from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, Labour Force Survey, British Household Panel Survey, and English Longitudinal Survey of Ageing was combined with a rigorous new economic theory to solve a practical recurrent problem in public sector pay evaluation. 

Research findings illustrated that public sector workers are, on average, worse off in the recently introduced Career Average (CARE) Pension schemes. However, the average masks substantial occupational variation: those in the Prison Service, Teaching and NHS Nurses schemes, although still adversely affected, are less so than other groups. This research also found that doctors are also substantial losers in the move from Final Salar to CARE schemes. 

The Police and Fire Services are much worse off. This research shows between £300k and nearly £500k 'lost' by the current CARE scheme members relative to their older counterparts in the Final Salary pre-2012 scheme. This analysis makes clear how these larges differences occur due to changing retirement ages and accrual rates.

Female teachers and doctors fare better under the CARE pension reforms than their male counterparts. When a comparison is made between public and private sector counterparts of directly comparable groups (such as teachers and nurses), it is shown that the public and private sector workers are in fact slightly better off in terms of Accumulated Lifetime Totle Reward (ALTR) levels.

This research will inform future discussions about:

  1. The consequences of recent pension reforms and how this could determine future pension changes.
  2. How pay and pension comparisons might be made in the future.
  3. The extent to which specific occupations have been affected by recent CARE pension changes and whether this needs to be tackled. 

Unemployment and domestic violence

This research was undertaken by academics at Royal Holloway, University of London using administrative data made available via the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Secure Research Service (SRS), which is being expanded and improved with ADR UK funding.

During the Great Recession, due to increased financial pressures within a household, many commentators expected a rise in domestic violence rates as unemployment rates increased. However, this rise in domestic violence did not materialise in official statistics.

It is often thought that rising unemployment increases domestic violence. However, economic theory predicts that male and female unemployment have opposite-signed effects on domestic abuse: an increase in male unemployment decreases the incidence of intimate partner violence, while an increase in female unemployment increases domestic abuse. Combining data on intimate partner violence from the British Crime Survey with locally disaggregated labour market data from the UK’s Annual Population Survey (APS), this research found strong evidence in support of this theoretical position

By examining aggregate data on trends in unemployment rates and abuse in England and Wales, the research revealed an increase in unemployment rates for both men and women and a decrease in physical abuse against women over the period of analysis (2004-2011). In addition, exposure to physical abuse was, in general, found to decline with age and academic qualifications acquired after compulsory education. It was found to vary relatively little with religion and ethnicity but increase with the number of children. The researchers also found that there is substantial spatial variation respectively in female unemployment, male unemployment, the gender unemployment gap and physical abuse.

Unemployment was therefore found to have a significant impact, but in a way that is different from conventional wisdom. There was a negative link between male unemployment and a woman’s risk of being abused and a positive link between female unemployment and a woman’s risk of being abused. Therefore, the researchers suggest policies which encourage female employment or enhance women’s employment security may prove an important contributor to reductions in partner abuse. 

The findings of this research have been presented at a number of policy-relevant forums across Europe, as well as being covered by media outlets including The AtlanticCentrepiece Winter (2013/14) and Science Daily.

Read the findings in full.

Quality of paediatric epilepsy care and epilepsy-related deaths

This research was undertaken by researchers at Imperial College London, Univeristy College London, and the Nuffield Trust using administrative data made available via the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Secure Research Service (SRS), which is being expanded and improved with ADR UK funding.

The UK currently has higher rates of epilepsy-related deaths in young people than other countries do, with roughly one out of every 100 people diagnosed with epilepsy. This research was lead by Dr Dougal Hargreaves, and combines mortality data from the Office for National Statistics, Hospital Episode Statistics, and the Epilepsy 12 national audit for paediatric epilepsy services to study links between care quality and outcomes of children and young people with epilepsy. These three national datasets were used to investigate the association between unit performance when involving epilepsy specialists and the proportion of adolescents with epilepsy treated in each unit who died. 

This research finds that 7.5% of adolescents with epilepsy who are admitted to hospital die within the study period (averaging 4.5 years, ranging from 3-6 years old). Adolescents who are managed within paediatric units that meet national guidelines on involving paediatric neurologists are less than half as likely to die in the period following transition to adult services compared to patients who are managed in other units. 

Further findings indicate units where involvement of an Epilepsy Specialist Nurse (ESN) deteriorate over time experience a significant increase in standardised epilepsy admissions over the same period. In adjusted regression analysis, fully meeting guidelines for involving paediatric neurologists is associated with 4.6 fewer deaths per hundred patients.

This research could save lives. There are three core ways in which this research informs policy/planning decisions and discussions:

  1. National policy on services for young people with long-term conditions - used in discussions at the NHS England transformation board for children and young people.
  2. Work force planning - findings provide the first empirical basis for estimating the number of posts needed to ensure good outcomes.
  3. Local and regional planning decisions about paediatric epilepsy services - findings reinforce the clinical and business case for strengthening links between secondary and tertiary care.

This research was runner up for the ONS Excellence Awards 2019.

Powering UK tech and driving the economy

This research was undertaken by researchers at Tech Nation using administrative data made available via the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Secure Research Service (SRS), which is being expanded and improved with ADR UK funding.

This research was published as a report, lead by Dr George Windsor of Tech Nation, which captures the strength, depth and breadth of digital tech activity in the UK. These findings have helped develop an understanding of the vibrant digital tech landscape in the UK.

This report used Business Structure Database (BSD), Annual Business Survey (ABS), Annual Population Survey (APS), and Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) data to identify relevant trends and patterns pertaining to the nature and extent of businesses and the workforce in the digital tech industry, within and between different regions of the UK.

Findings uncovered the digital tech industry is not just the sole preserve of larger metropolitan cities. Areas, such as Guildford, Aldershot, Slough and Heathrow have significantly higher digital tech density and the highest levels of employment and tech turnover. Additionally, digital tech hotspots have high productivity. Digital tech turnover by employee ranges from £27,650 in Campbeltown to £320,000 in Bristol. The UK's strength as a tech nation rests in acknowledging and valuing this diversity of economic activity. Lastly, digital jobs are on the rise. Between 2014 and 2017 employment in the digital tech sector increased by 13.2%. Workers in digital tech are also more productive than those in non-digital sectors, by an average of £10,000 per person per annum. 

What is the impact of this research?

The findings were widely distributed to policymakers across several government departments where they provided a focus for policy debate and a process of review and feedback. The report reached the attention of then Prime Minister Theresa May as evidence for the contribution of the digital tech sector to the UK economy. 

Monetary policy and birth rates

This research was undertaken by researchers at the Bank of England using administrative data made available via the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Secure Research Service (SRS), which is being expanded and improved with ADR UK funding.

This research examines whether monetary policy pass-through to mortgage rates affects household fertility decisions. The research team was lead by Fergus Cimming and Lisa Dettling or the Bank of England. 

The study specifically looked at birth data, Living Costs and Food Survey, and 2001 Census data from the ONS, and administrative data on the universe of new and refinanced mortgages issued by UK lenders from 2005 through 2009. The empirical strategy explores variation in the timing of when families were eligible for a rate adjustment, coupled with the large reductions in interest rates that occurred during the Great Recession. 

Research findings:

  • For families on adjustable-rate mortgages, one percent decline in interest rates increases birth rates by five percent.
  • On average for the UK, a one percent interest rate decrease increases birth rates by two percent. Reducing interest rates from five percent in summer 2008 to 0.5% by March 2009 lead to 14,500 additional babies being born in 2009.
  • Birth rates saw a sustained increase of 7.5% between 2009 and 2012.

The results provide new evidence on the nature of monetary policy transmission and suggest a new mechanism via which mortgage contract structures can affect aggregate demand and supply. 

The research has received extensive national media coverage. 

The impact of roadworks and floods on wellbeing

This research was undertaken by researchers at Simetrica-Jacobs using administrative data made available via the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Secure Research Service (SRS), which is being expanded and improved with ADR UK funding.

Anglian Water commissioned this study, and lead by Richard Houston, Associate Director of Simetrica-Jacobs, to asses the impact of flooding incidences and roadworks on the subjective wellbeing of its customers, as part of its societal valuation programme to feed into the 2019 Price Review (PR19). 

This research draws on two primary sources of data: the Annual Population Survey (APS) and operational data on flooding and roadworks incidences provided by Anglian Water

The team estimated the impact of each type of incident on subjective wellbeing (SW) for individuals who experienced incidences in their life. Impact was then converted into a monetary amount using the Wellbeing Valuation (WV) approach, by estimating the equivalent amount of money individuals would be willing to pay to avoid each type of incident. 

The research findings:

  1. The wellbeing impact per incident of each type pf flooding is considerably higher than for roadworks. 
  2. The average internal sewer flooding incident is associated with a higher wellbeing impact per property affected than the average internal water flooding incident. 
  3. The average internal sewer flooding incident is associated with a higher wellbeing impact per property affected than the average external sewer flooding incident. 

Simetrica presented the work as a case study in a cross Whitehall roundtable meeting organised by HM Treasury in connection with the launch of its new Green Book guidance on policy appraisal. The final report has been used within Anglian Water to shape their future investment plans presented to Anglian Water's Customer Engagement Forum who provide independent assurance to Ofwat on the quality of Anglian's engagement activities.

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