The consultation, which opened in September alongside the publication of the Strategy and closed on 9 December 2020, sought the input of organisations and individuals to ‘contribute to the framing and core principles of the strategy’.

In our response to the initial National Data Strategy consultation in July 2019, we highlighted three key points which we hoped to see reflected in the Strategy:

  1. There is a need for a greater appreciation of the necessity to improve data use within government for the purpose of research. Greater investment and commitment are needed to ensure that data is handled properly and that the potential benefits of the government’s wealth of data for research are maximised, particularly for informing policy decisions. This is necessary to avoid data ‘missed use’ as well as the consequences of data misuse.
  2. There is a need for clear overarching governance structures to emphasise, coordinate and enforce the need for better use of data across government as a whole, including the ethical and responsible use of data.
  3. There is a need for clearer structures for enforcing the ethical and trustworthy use of public data, with a focus upon public engagement. Increasing public trust in government’s use of data, and raising awareness about the benefits of better sharing of data, is essential for the success of government data initiatives.

We are pleased to see these points reflected in the missions and pillars of the published National Data Strategy. However, we think they could be given even greater emphasis, to ensure we are fully able to unlock the huge potential of the UK’s existing wealth of data for initiatives which benefit all of society.

We are particularly interested in seeing a greater focus on the importance of better access to data for social and economic research for the public good, and on the necessity to capture the interests and concerns of the public around the use of their data in initiatives which hope to benefit them.