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Departmental Databases

Volume 487: debated on Thursday 5 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Rochford and Southend East (James Duddridge) of 6 October 2008, Official Report, column 300W, on departmental databases, how ACORN data are used in relation to (a) her Department’s House Price Index, (b) local authority formula grant distribution and (c) the citizenship survey; and how MOSAIC data are used in relation to the Neighbourhood Renewal Evaluation. (252176)

The information requested is as follows:


(a) The CLG monthly house price index is a hedonic mix-adjusted index. The mix-adjustment weights are updated on an annual basis using a variety of variables. One of the variables is type of neighbourhood. This is produced by linking the house price dataset to Acorn data via the postcode.

(b) The distribution of formula grant takes into account the relative needs and relative resources of an authority relative to all other authorities providing the same service. There is also a central allocation and floor damping mechanism. The formulae used in the distribution system cover a wide range of socio-economic and demographic indicators

For the 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 settlement, Acorn data have been used for indicators that are used within the Police Relative Needs Formula (RNF) and the Fire and Rescue RNF.

Annex D of the Local Government Finance Report (England) 2008-09 (HC 262) contains the description of each of the indicators used in the calculation of the allocation of formula grant.

(c) Recent analysis of the Citizenship Survey has not used Acorn data. Analysis using Acorn was last carried out using 2003 and 2005 data as reported in the annual reports. More recently, data are analysed using classifications such as the new Index of Multiple Deprivation, urban/rural, and social class. However, we provide Acorn in the publicly available Citizenship Survey dataset as we recognise that local area characteristics can play an important role in cohesion and data users may wish to use this.


The National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal Evaluation requires the identification and analysis of socio-economic trends at small spatial scales (i.e. Lower Level Super Output Areas—LSOA) which is why the Department’s contractors, Amion Consulting, have used Mosaic group data provided by Experian as it provides a typology of areas. It was initially used as part of the modelling analysis but was ultimately set aside due to extensive correlation with other socio-economic variables and consequential statistical problems.

The Mosaic typology is based on a series of datasets assembled by Experian. Two of these datasets have also been used in the Evaluation:

The ethnic origins dataset—which was also set aside in preference to Census data but is being used to identify areas with high concentrations of particular ethnic groups for subsequent analysis; and

the length of residence dataset—which was employed as part of the transition-modelling process as it provides an indicative measure of population churn (identified as an important factor in influencing area change).