MP attacks ‘scandal’ of Census address data

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The need for the Office for National Statistics to buy address data from other public bodies in order to gain a complete picture of the UK has been heavily criticised. Dr Tony Wright, chair of the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee, said: “This seems to us to be a scandalous waste of public money.”

He was commenting in a letter to Minister of State for Housing, John Healey, about the need for ONS to spend £12 million on address data in the absence of a single authoritative source of national address information. “The ONS will only be able to create a sufficiently accurate address register for the Census by buying address information from other public sector bodies at a substantial cost to the public purse and spending further sums cross-checking and updating the information. Once the Census is completed, this updated, comprehensive address register will not be available as a public resource, nor will it be maintained,” he wrote.

Wright voiced support for the call by the head of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir Michael Scholar, for the creation of a single, definitive and regularly updated national address register. This has also received support from the Demographic Users Group, which represents a number of major commercial data users.

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