Missing Numbers is about the data that the government should collect and measure in the UK, but doesn't. It is a project of the Centre for Public Data.

There are many great blogs and books about how to use data responsibly, choose appropriate statistics and build clear visualisations. There are also plenty about opening up data.

This isn't one of them.

This is about an even bigger problem: areas where the government doesn't gather data at all, whether out of wilful ignorance, or just because it doesn't think it's a policy priority.

These tend not to get written about much, for the obvious reason that it's hard for journalists to report on numbers that don't exist.

But if we don't gather and report data, we can't spot where services are failing; we can't track improvement over time; and fundamentally, we can't improve people's lives.

So this project exists to audit:

  • Which public services does the UK government collect performance data about, and which not? (For example: the government collects and publishes data on how often NHS hospitals get complaints from patients. This is useful, because it means that it can spot failing hospitals. But it simply doesn't collect data on how often Jobcentres get complaints from claimants - and not only does it not publish this data, it doesn't even collect it internally. So the government has ways to spot a failing hospital, but not a failing Jobcentre.)
  • Which policy areas in the UK are well-served by current reported data and statistics, and which are lacking?
  • Which industries are required to report data about their treatment of consumers, and impact on society, and which aren't?
  • How does the UK's Office for National Statistics choose what to include in its official statistics? And what are the big areas that it's missing?

As well as investigating where the gaps are, and how they come about, it also campaigns to close the most important gaps.

Get in touch

Think there's a missing dataset we should write about? Email contact@centreforpublicdata.org, or tweet @cfpdata.