Status: Active

The composition of households can play a role in the social, economic and health outcomes of those who live in them. In particular, the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns have highlighted the impact of circumstances such as over-crowding on physical and mental health and education. However, it is currently not possible for researchers to analyse households within administrative and health population datasets.

This project aims to address this challenge using Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs) – unique identifiers given to every addressable location in the UK. Encrypting or coding these unique numbers provides a secure way to link de-identified information about people sharing the same household, and to link this to other address level data. This will enable research that recognises the make-up and circumstances of individual households while investigating the outcomes experienced by household members.

This project is funded by ADR England and will be delivered by ADR Wales, led by Dr Richard Fry, Professor of Environment and Health at Swansea University. Collaborating on the project alongside Swansea University are the University of Edinburgh, Queen Mary University of London and Endeavour Health Charitable Trust.

The data 

This project aims to create a dataset that brings together the following key data sources for England, Scotland and Wales:

  • Unique Property Reference Numbers
  • GP patient registration and clinical data
  • Address-based housing datasets:
    • The Valuation Office Agency data extract, held by the Office for National Statistics
    • The publicly-available Energy Performance Certificate Register.

Potential of this newly linked data

This project has the potential to transform our understanding of household circumstances like over-crowding and the composition of the household. It will also enable new insights into how these circumstances relate to other areas of people’s lives, such as health and education.

The dataset and tools developed by this project will therefore allow new research exploration in support of key policy priorities around the drivers of social, educational and health inequalities. This has the potential to benefit the public by informing action to address these inequalities, such as supporting fairer provision of and access to public services.

This project will provide researchers with new capacity to study individual households when undertaking public good research. Government bodies working with health and social care will also benefit from insights at the household level, which will inform service planning and evaluation.

Key questions this newly linked dataset could help to address include: 

  • Are some children more likely to move than others?, for example an exploration of residential mobility and associations with sociodemographic and household characteristics.
  • Is growing up in an adverse household environment – characterised by combining social, health and housing indicators – associated with poorer physical and/or mental health during childhood and adolescence?
  • Are children in adverse household environments more likely to receive children's social services support?


A research-ready dataset created by this project will be available for accredited researchers to apply to access in the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank, alongside synthetic data from North East London and methods deployed in the Scottish National Safe Haven. Methods for creating a household unit of analysis using patient registration data will be made available on GitHub for deployment in trusted research environments like Integrated Data Service, as data governance allows.

Current grant details

  • Project Lead: Professor Richard Fry
  • ADR UK funding: £710,222
  • Duration: February 2023 – January 2025

This project is funded via the ADR UK research-ready data and access fund, a dedicated fund for commissioning research using newly linked administrative data. The funding decision was based on advice from an independent expert panel, and in consultation with the Office for National Statistics. This project is part of the ADR England portfolio.

Details of the funding grant awarded by ADR UK to Swansea University for this project can also be found on the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Gateway to Research platform. Read the funding announcement on our website.

Categories: Data linkage programmes, ADR England, ADR Wales, Office for National Statistics, Health & wellbeing, Housing & communities

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