Although the UK census provides a comprehensive source of small-area population down to output area level in the UK, it is only conducted once every ten years. As time passes after each census the data gives a progressively less accurate picture of the population of the country because of demolitions, newly built housing, and changes in the characteristics of both local areas and the nation as a whole. As the accuracy of census data degrades over time, the value of updates to census demographics increases, even taking into consideration that updated statistics must rely on data sources which are less comprehensive than the census.
There are several large volume data sources, such as Land Registry data and large volume Lifestyle Surveys, which allow some of the characteristics captured in the census to be accurately estimated at the smaller area levels. These data sources can also provide further inferences about how other variables may be distributed within individual output areas, and hence help to provide more accurate data for postcode sectors, whose boundaries do not intersect precisely with census output areas.
CACI’s Up to Date Demographics therefore make use of large-scale lifestyle surveys, property information from the Land Registry, and other small-area data sources such as counts of jobseekers in order to track change at the level of local areas. We use updated statistics of national and regional change in the social and demographic character of the UK to provide controls for large geographical areas. Up to Date Demographics also draws upon CACI’s Ocean lifestyle database.
Up to Date Demographics are particularly useful in areas of rapid change where the census data may, after a period of a few years, give little useful indication of the characteristics of neighbourhoods.