Hull City Council is committed to being a listening council, that involves local people in the decisions that affect them.
To do this, we need to make sure that we take that involvement seriously, that we do it properly, and that we gather useful, valid and robust data that can confidently be used in decision-making.
All council services collect information and data about local people and colleagues in many different ways and for many different uses. This needs to be collected it in a consistent way, so we can move from a data-rich / knowledge poor organisation, to a data-rich / knowledge rich and insightful organisation.
When you undertake any kind of engagement or data collection, there is a lot of responsibility on you to make sure that you do it well and do it properly, and that the process, you and the people involved meet the necessary regulations and duties. The same responsibility also applies if you are making decisions that affect people.
As a local authority we have a number of duties upon us, in terms of our understanding of residents, and their needs, and also in terms of how we handle, store, report and use that data.
Collecting & Handling Data and Data Privacy
The process starts with the collection of robust, solid and valid data.
At all stages of collection, and for whatever purposes, every service has to take responsibility for what is collected, how it is used and how it is reported.
Collecting Demographic Data
A part of the corporate standards is to collect specific demographic data in a specific way.
At Hull City Council, we use questions identical to those asked in the Census, because the Census provides us with the official data against which we can compare. These demographics cover full home postcode, ethnicity, gender, age / year of birth, and impairment / LLTI. There are additional demographic questions available should their use be justified and required, such as sexual orientation and religion.
The collection of consistent valid data helps you to understand how representative respondents to research or consultation are, or how representative your service users are.
If you do not collect this information, consistently, then you are not able to understand or, importantly, evidence who your customers are, whether there are gaps in service usage, whether this has changed over time, whether you have a full view of your customer experiences and whether different groups have significantly different experiences or opinions about your services.
Collecting demographic information helps the council, and your service or team to meet its duties under the Equality Act and to undertake Equality Impact Analysis when that is required.
Equality Impact Analysis enables the council to ensure it is making decisions based on robust evidence in a fair, transparent and accountable way, and that it considers the needs and rights of all members of the community being served. This is to ensure that the needs of the community are being taken into account, whilst also ensuring that the decision making is evidence based and that our governance is fit for purpose. An EIA also reduces the chances of a challenge to a decision when it is evidence-based. A well thought out EIA is a vital part of the decision-making process and is key in consultations. The failure to provide an accurate, evidence-based EIA is one of the most common reasons that decisions are challenged and often overturned by the courts.
None of this is possible without the basis of the standard demographics. Knowing what the population of the city looks like is not enough, you also need to understand what your service users, and potential service users look like, too, and who is being affected by the decisions that you take.
The collection of any data, and its subsequent use can be a minefield and it is your responsibility to make sure that it is done properly, is of the best quality, provides maximum value and that all relevant duties are met.
The overall point of the corporate standards and guidance is that the council collects good quality, consistent data, and that we achieve the best possible quality and value, in terms of both value for money, and also value for the organisation and for the people of Hull.
The corporate standards and guidance should be followed for all forms of engagement and data collection.
Follow the corporate standards and guidance and complete the e-learning. You’ll be glad you did
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