Watchdog says the department’s data collection has weaknesses
CLG job cuts affect data quality, Audit Office warns
The Communities and Local Government department’s housing data collection and analysis is not ‘fit for purpose and cost-effectively run’, a watchdog has found.
The National Audit Office has published a report looking at the CLG’s use of data. It analysed five data sets, including data around housing starts and completions and the energy efficiency of new homes.
The analysis found that none of the five data systems achieved the top rating, meaning ‘it is fit for purpose and cost-effectively run’. Three were merely found to be ‘adequate’, while two were found to have weaknesses.
The watchdog warned the department’s data on the energy efficiency of new build housing has weaknesses which need to be addressed.
It said the department needs to understand risks of data supplied by its ‘arm’s-length bodies’. It said: ‘Where data are collected from local authorities, the department could tighten its procedures by requiring senior level officials from the authorities to sign off data submitted.’
The NAO also found that job cuts at the department are linked to ‘risks to data quality’. The department cut its workforce by 28 per cent from around 5,016 in March 2011 to 3,597 in March this year.
A CLG spokesperson said: ‘The NAO has said that the data which the department uses to monitor its impact on housing supply are generally well-established. Since the NAO carried out its research, local authorities are responding better to requests for data.’
The National Audit Office has no power to sanction departments, but its findings can be used by committees of MPs to hold departments to account.