£17m funding for collaborative data research in Wales

An initiative involving Swansea University that has transformed the way data can be used to provide insight into social and economic issues in Wales will continue, thanks to an investment of almost £17million.

Administrative Data Search Wales (ADR Wales) was rewarded £16,985,944 until 2026 as part of the UK-wide £90m UK administrative data search (ADR UK) investment from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Founded in 2018 as part of ADR UK, ADR Wales brings together the research expertise of Swansea University School of Medicine and the Welsh Institute for Social and Economic Research and Data (WISERD) at Cardiff University with Welsh government analysts. The ADR Wales team includes leading academics with expertise in priority issues facing the nation. Together, ADR Wales ensures that information and evidence based on timely administrative data is used to help make informed policy decisions for the people of Wales.

ADR Wales aligns its work with key areas identified in the Welsh Government’s Agenda for Government 2021-2026, such as education, mental health and housing. It uses academic independence and the expertise of a team of specialist researchers, analysts and data scientists.

The ADR Wales team has led the way in state-of-the-art data analysis techniques and research excellence, working with the SAIL database to provide robust, secure and informative research.

As a result, ADR Wales has produced significant researcher-led analysis to date to inform the Welsh Government’s priority areas in housing, wellbeing, early years, education and skills, mental health and, more recently, the Covid-19 pandemic.

ADR Wales has played a pivotal role in understanding and subsequent policy-level decision-making during the pandemic in Wales and across the UK, with its researchers working to understand the spread of the pandemic in Wales and its impact on people and services.

ADR Wales will continue to support decision-making in Wales by providing timely information on issues affecting the people of Wales, while addressing the secondary impact of the pandemic on people and services .

ADR Wales Co-Director and Professor of Computing at Swansea University, Professor David Ford said: “ADR Wales has invested significantly in its infrastructure and expertise to ensure that anonymised data can be used safely to better understand the world we live in.

“To date, our work program has produced significant results which have helped shape key areas of public policy in Wales. We look forward to the next four years as we continue to pioneer safe data practices and demonstrate the role that anonymized data can play, when used safely, securely and correctly, in helping to inform decision-making both in Wales and across the UK. ”

Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said: “I am delighted that the innovative work carried out by the ADR Wales partnership will continue to provide data-driven insights into the challenges we face as a nation. This continued partnership will give us access to a richer database, helping us to shape and support future policy decisions as we set out to deliver our agenda for government and our commitments to build a stronger Wales. stronger, fairer and greener.

Stephanie Howarth, co-director and chief statistician of ADR Wales, said: “The pandemic has demonstrated like never before the rapid analysis that can be achieved when experts have access to anonymized and timely data. ADR Wales’ efforts throughout the pandemic have helped inform many decisions in a hectic and rapidly changing situation.

“The data, when anonymised and linked in a safe and secure way, can provide the information needed to ensure that policy-making in Wales and the UK is informed, ultimately helping to make better decisions for the people who live here.”

ADR Wales alongside ADR Northern Ireland, ADR Scotland, ADR England and ONS make up the UK-wide ADR UK investment, which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (part of from UK Research and Innovation).

Learn more about ADR UK and how to access data securely

Sean N. Ayres