ADD2319 Research by the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC)

Type of decision: 
Assistant Director's decision
Code: 
ADD2319
Date signed: 
05 February 2019
Decision by: 
Jeremy Skinner, Assistant Director of Strategy, Insight & Intelligence

Executive summary

The Consumer Data Research Centre at University College London has developed new research outputs from consumer datasets, which have the potential to provide more timely data on the characteristics of London’s population for small area geographies in between the decennial population census. London’s population has undergone a number of changes since 2011 and for many areas, data from the census no longer provide robust estimates of the characteristics of the population.

The GLA wishes to purchase specific London-related data outputs, to support the GLA’s demographic outputs and fill gaps in the Mayor’s Social Evidence base for social integration.

Decision

That the Interim Assistant Director, Intelligence and Analysis and the Assistant Director for Communities and Social Policy approve:

1) Expenditure of £32,000 on consumer data research to provide up-to-date demographic outputs on ethnicity, migration and social mobility; and
2) A single source exemption from the Contracts & Funding Code so that the CDRC may be appointed without a competitive procurement exercise.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

The Consumer Data Research Centre at University College London has demonstrated the potential of new outputs to provide more timely data on the characteristics of London’s population for small area geographies in between the decennial population census. This is an area of increasing concern for the GLA as London’s population has undergone a number of changes since the 2011 population census and for many areas these data no longer provide robust estimates of the characteristics of the population (e.g. the distribution and characteristics of the EU population across London since 2011 has changed due to both high in-migration, and the accession of Romania and Bulgaria). New census outputs are not due until 2022.

The GLA has evaluated the quality and relevance of outputs from the Consumer Data Research Centre at UCL and wishes to commission the Centre to provide more data outputs for London. Outputs from the Centre will support the GLA’s demographic outputs and fill gaps in the Mayor’s Social Evidence base for social integration.

This commission would be based on a contribution of £12,000 from the City Intelligence Unit and £20,000 from the Communities and Social Policy Unit.

The Communities and Social Policy Unit contribution has already been approved as part of MD2254. This Mayoral Decision included approval for expenditure of £80,000 for the ‘purchase of new data sources and analysis to support our understanding of social integration including analysis of social media data and consumer research data’. This expenditure covers a number of projects including this one relating to consumer research data.

Section 9.1 of the GLA's Contracts and Funding Code (‘Code’) requires that contracts with an estimated value of over £25,000 are procured by a formal tender process.

However, section 10 of the Code provides that exemptions from that requirement may be approved where there is a complete absence of competition. Research undertaken by officers and liaison with the market has included desk-based research looking at alternative commercial products, and in some cases, where promising, holding meetings to explore these more thoroughly. The outcome of this research has indicated that, whilst some commercial products exist to provide some of the data we require, these do not meet our needs for following reasons:

• They are based on pre-defined data classifications in relation to areas of our research that do not meet our needs;
• They do not provide all the data we require; and
• The cost of obtaining an annual London-wide dataset is prohibitive.

The CDRC are producing research outputs which better fit our needs and budget. By using more up-to-date consumer data, we can provide data on population characteristics to update the increasingly outdated data we have from the 2011 Census. Both the CDRC and the GLA have a mutual interest in developing new outputs in areas such as social integration. This commission will enable them to work to develop new products that would support our evidence base.

The GLA is satisfied that the CDRC are the only organisation at the current time who are able and willing to undertake the required research to produce data at an affordable cost.

Objectives and expected outcomes

The objectives of this work are to commission academic research work using consumer data to provide the following outputs:

• Annual estimates of the distribution of London’s population by ethnic group – these are used by both the GLA and Boroughs for social and community policies;

• Population flows and dynamics to understand area-based population change and population churn – these would improve inputs into the GLA’s annual demographic modelling underpinning the London’s housing, infrastructure and a range of other planning;

• Data on international in and out-migration, including distribution across London, household characteristics and length of stay – as above; and

• Research using consumer data to provide area-based estimates of social mobility – this will contribute to the GLA’s Social Evidence Base.

Equality comments

This research will support all strategic objectives of the Mayor’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy by providing a better and more up-to-date understanding of the social impacts of area change on different population groups, including those with protected characteristics. The improved accuracy of data, once fed into work undertaken by the GLA, will enable a greater understanding of inequalities. As an institution, UCL adheres to EDI policies in line with the PSED. The organisation and has recognition from Stonewall, Athena Swan and the ECU Race Charter.

Other considerations

Risks

Procuring new data sources such as these are a specific aim of the City Intelligence Unit data science project. If we do not purchase these data, this planned work will not be able to go ahead and we will be unable to improve our data modelling to produce required evidence in the policy areas listed above.

Links to strategies and Mayoral and corporate priorities

Outputs from these data will support GLA demographic outputs underpinning the London Plan, and form part of the Social Evidence Base outlined in the Social Integration Strategy ‘All of Us’.

Financial comments

Approval is sought for expenditure of up to £32,000 in grant funding to ‘The Consumer Data Research Centre’ at University College London for research using consumer data.

Of the total expenditure, £20,000 will be funded from the Social Evidence Base Programme budget held within the Communities and Social Policy Unit. The balance of £12,000 will be funded from the Demography and Policy Analysis Team’s budget within the Intelligence Unit.

Activity table

Activity

Timeline

Procurement of contract [for externally delivered projects]

18 February 2019

Delivery Start Date [for project proposals]

24 February 2019

Initial delivery of outputs

31 March 2019

Delivery End Date [for project proposals]

1 December 2019

Project Closure: [for project proposals]

31 December 2019


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