Population Insight Webinar Summary

Thanks to all those who were able to make it for our live discussion on the new housing tool, Population Insight.

For those of you unable to attend, check out the script below to see what was discussed during the webinar.

The main points covered in the session were:

  • Data shading on the map, in particular for groups with properties only covering small geographic areas
  • Extracting data for other key socioeconomic indicators
  • Uploading and mapping your own datasets
  • Adding in different scales on the map, including Output Areas
  • Different methods of creating stock groups
  • How practitioners are using the tool to identify population changes in their communities

We hope you are enjoying and making the most of this tool!

If you have any further feedback or comments do not hesitate to contact us.

Otherwise we look forward to meeting with you next for the next live webinar session!


What is new for Community Insight?

You may have noticed some changes to the Community Insight indicators and data.

We have updated Community Insight with the latest from Census 2011. This not only includes updating the existing indicators, but you will find a series of new Census 2011 indicators.

We have also introduced sub-indicators, enhancing how you navigate around datasets on the Community Insight Map. You are now able to look at underlying breakdowns within one main indicator.

You will find that 23 indicators on the website updated with the 2011 data:

  • White British ethnic group
  • Non-white ethnic group
  • White (Non British) ethnic group
  • People providing intensive unpaid care
  • People with no qualifications
  • People with degree level qualifications
  • Vacant Dwellings
  • Detached housing
  • Semi-detached housing
  • Terraced housing
  • Purpose build flats
  • Flats in a converted house
  • Households with no car
  • Owner occupied housing
  • Housing rented from council
  • Housing rented from a Housing Association
  • Private rented housing
  • Overcrowded housing
  • Houses lacking central heating
  • People with a limiting long-term illness (aged 16-64)
  • Households with multiple needs
  • Dwellings with two rooms or fewer
  • Dwellings with 9 or more rooms

In addition, the website now shows a further 23 new census 2011 indicators:

  • Economically active
  • Economically inactive
  • Full-time employees
  • Part-time employees
  • Self-employed people
  • Flats in a commercial building
  • Caravan or other temporary accommodation
  • Flat, maisonette or apartment
  • Whole house or bungalow
  • Social rented housing
  • Housing owned outright
  • Housing owned with a mortgage or a loan
  • Housing in shared ownership
  • People with a religious belief
  • Christian
  • Buddhist
  • Hindu
  • Jewish
  • Muslim
  • Sikh
  • Other religion
  • People with no religious belief
  • Households with 4+ cars

We hope you are enjoying Community Insight’s great new features. If you have any questions regarding this update, or would like to give us any feedback, then do contact us.

Join us for our first free Population Insight webinar session

When: Thursday 21st February, 12pm- 2pm

Where: Held on the HACT website

We will be holding the first online webinar session for Population Insight users on Thursday 21st February. It will provide an opportunity to raise any questions you may have about using the programme, and it also gives us a platfrom to address specific aspects of Population Insight to ensure you are getting the most out of the software.

We will be using the webinar software ‘Cover it Live’ for you which you do not need to sign up or login to participate

The session is being held from 12pm to 2pm (you can join in at any point) and all new subscribers of Population Insight are welcome to join us to meet and talk with two of the people that helped to design and implement the programme.

  • Tom Smith, Director at Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion (OCSI), an open data expert and helped to develop the system that Population Insight runs on and;
  • John Perry, specialises on housing and migration issues and worked with HACT to put the data available from Population Insight into the context of wider knowledge about migrants and their housing conditions

They will be live on the HACT website from 12pm this Thursday and look forward to taking your questions! 

Click here to go through to the HACT website now to set an email reminder for Thursday!

Housing and migration- following up the guide

Last year, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) released a guide to assist social providers in their work with migrants.

Here CIH policy adviser and HACT associate, John Perry, investigates what effect the work had on the sector:

Last July, CIH published – for the Housing and Migration Network – a UK guide to issues and solutions


It’s always good to see if guidance actually works, so I’ve been collecting a few examples since then of what housing professionals have been doing in this field.

In the case of working with migrants, one criticism made in the guide was that many social landlords fail to engage with the issues. Is there any evidence that this is changing?

Let’s start with the best news first. Wolverhampton Homes decided to use the guide systematically to review their policy positions and work with migrants, creating an action plan based on its recommendations.

They’re at an early stage, but Shabir Hussain their Diversity Officer describes the guide as a ‘valuable tool’ to get them going. They’ve started to consult local migrant support groups on the review (one of the points emphasised in the guide). This is very much work in progress, but as the guide is intended to cover systematically (if briefly) the whole range of issues about housing for services for migrants, it should make a good basis for Wolverhampton to use.

One of the founders of the Housing and Migration Network was the Metropolitan Migration Foundation, and two of the follow-up projects they are supporting develop key themes from the Network’s guide.  The first, being run by HACT and OCSI, is called Population Insight. This is a free service for housing providers, enabling them to use 2011 Census data to drill down into local information on who lives in the neighbourhoods where they work, how big a factor migration is and where migrants come from. Population Insight will be a great tool to help landlords better understand their customer base.

The Foundation’s second follow-up project is being run by Praxis. They are setting up a unit to provide accommodation for destitute migrants in London, using property supplied by social landlords and similar to Birmingham’s Hope project (which featured in the Network’s guide). The Praxis project will provide an advocacy element – for example it will convene a new forum focusing on destitution in the capital.

Salix Homes aims to improve the access of ‘hard to reach’ groups to its services. This led to collaboration with the Salford Forum for Refugees and Asylum Seekers. Separately, it led to the setting up of a Disability Focus Group two years ago. Both groups had misconceptions and were apprehensive about working together. Salix talked to the groups and came up with the idea of making a film that would give them the opportunity to talk about differences as well as get to know each other better.

Filming went really well, if at first with some difficulty, over the course of four workshops. After the first, the groups got on so well they decided to plan a joint diversity event as part of Refugee Week in 2011. The film was premiered at the event. They now meet as one forum and friendships have developed as a result. They work together on different projects including refugee week and black history month celebrations. Salix’s Debbie Broadhurst said: “this is good as customers sometimes think that refugee week is for refugees only and now we have lots of customers attending the events and learning about each other.”

In Coventry, Whitefriars aims to identify new communities, assess the impact on neighbourhoods and work in partnership with other services to promote integration. This led them to work with the Roma community (mainly from Bulgaria and Romania), thought to number up to 3,000 people. Voluntary organisations told Whitefriars of the pressures put on their services because of both the community’s language difficulties and the complications of the immigration status.

As a result, Whitefriars held advice sessions on a range of issues, attended by over 60 Roma people. The hope is that these become a permanent link into the Roma community to help improve their access to services.

Whitefriars’ parent body, WM Housing Group has developed a cultural awareness training package – ‘My Culture, Your Culture’ – which has been delivered to over 200 front-line staff. Residents from a range of new communities in Coventry talk on film about why they came to the UK, how they arrived here, how they celebrated their religion/culture originally and how they celebrate it now. They also talk about what staff can expect and need to take into account when they have contact with them.

WM’s Ravinder Kaur says “we are working towards integrating our new communities better into our neighbourhoods and also equipping our staff to engage more effectively with these new residents”.

These examples all show what housing providers can do and – even better – that some at least are doing it, often in innovative ways. CIH would be happy to see details of other examples of this kind of work.

This article first appeared in the opion blog for 24dash.com

Sense and census necessity

John Perry

As a wealth of data continues to pour out from the 2011 census, we need to remind ourselves how valuable it is. Government suggestions that this census might be the last one are nonsensical and should be resisted.

Not long after the last census took place, stories began to emerge that the government believed that the £500 million cost simply wasn’t worth it. It was even suggested that the 2021 census could be replaced by scrutiny of supermarket store cards. Government was later reported to be looking for ‘more effective, less bureaucratic’ ways of collecting data. These moves were announced before the detailed results even began to emerge. Will the obvious usefulness of the data now being released help to change their minds?

Local government had reason to be sceptical about the census in the wake of the 2001 results. In that year, it under-counted the population and under-represented immigration. As the census coincided with a surge of new migration, councils quickly got frustrated that their pleas for extra help to provide services to growing populations fell on deaf ears: old data were constantly cited by government as grounds for maintaining the status quo.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) seems to have learnt its lessons. The 2011 data came out quickly, the coverage of the latest census is extraordinarily high and the results flesh out in great detail the trends that we’ve known about more generally from other surveys. Most important of all, whereas sources like the International Passenger Survey log inward and outward movements of people on a regular basis for the UK as a whole, the census tells us exactly where they come from and go to, which is the information that local service providers need.

Here’s an example of how the data can be used. HACT and OCSI have developed a free resource for housing providers, called Population Insight. It takes highly detailed data on diverse communities and immigration and provides it in a form that housing providers can tailor to show the detail for local areas or even particular streets. For example, one of the headline changes across Britain has been the growth in the foreign-born population from seven per cent in 2001 to 13 per cent in 2011. But some places are hardly touched by immigration while others have been transformed. Take Boston in Lincolnshire: it was 98 per cent ‘white British’ in 2001 but now over ten per cent of the population is Polish. The council and social landlords in Boston need to know where the Polish and other incomers actually live, and whether their representation in the housing stock is typical of the area or not. To respond further, they may want to know how many households in a neighbourhood don’t speak English. Population Insight processes census data to tell them this.

Here’s another example. Important government forecasts, such as projections of the future growth in household numbers, are based on inter-census surveys and other records. The ten-yearly census enables statisticians to rebase their figures. The current projections for England use estimates of numbers of households in 2008; the next set early this year will be able to take account of the census’s finding that household numbers are actually lower than was thought. Now, if ministers aren’t keen on the census they are nevertheless keen on using these projections, as the gap between household growth (currently projected at 232,000 per year) and new housebuilding (barely topping 100,000) is regularly cited. Don’t they therefore have a strong interest in the accuracy of these figures?

It beggars belief that supposedly cheaper measures like scrutinising storecards can provide similar high-quality data to those from the census. We risk entering an epoch when we no longer know about our own population with any accuracy, since people who don’t have storecards, bank accounts or other accessible information, or who have recently arrived from abroad, could be missed out. In any case, information will be reduced to that which is commercially viable for private operators to record and provide.

Danny Dorling, a geographer who has never been afraid to use census and other data to criticise governments, has sketched out how the dropping of future censuses might affect local authorities.

The way that Dorling and other researchers make use of the census often uncovers inconvenient truths. But however uncomfortable, we ought to insist that we still need to know about them.

John Perry is an associate at HACT. He writes extensively on housing issues and is a Policy Advisor to the Chartered Institute of Housing.

This article first appeared on Public Finance opinion blog

Community Insight- February 2013 newsletter now available

2013 so far has been a great start for Community Insight, and with the arrival of the new data from the 2011 Census plus lots of new subscribers from the housing sector, it looks like things will keep getting better!  In this edition we cover what the release of the new Census data means for Community Insight users, welcome our new subscribers and and introduce our new free tool Population Insight.

In this edition:

Community Insight updated with the latest Census information

New neighbourhood-level census data was released on 30th January 2013, and Community Insight subscribers will be among the first to get access to detailed maps and analyses of what this means for their communities.

We’ve been loading new data on economic activity, skill levels, general health, housing tenure and type, what jobs people are doing, overcrowding, ethnicity, migration and country of birth. This is the first time such detailed neighbourhood data on these topics has been available since the 2001 Census.

Community Insight users will be able to access this information from their mapping screens and profile reports from Friday. Users requesting new profile reports will find them updated to the latest stats, and you can update your existing reports through the Admin pages.

Population Insight- new demographic information from Census

On Friday 8 February 2013, we will be launching Population Insight, which will provide UK housing providers detailed information on population demographics for the communities in which they work, including age, gender, ethnicity, country of birth and migration status – broken down to neighbourhood level.

Provided on a free-to-use basis with funding support from the Metropolitan Migration Foundation and supplementing the data available on Community Insight, Population Insight provides mapping and reporting capability based on an interface that will be familiar to existing users of Community Insight.

For Community Insight subscribers – accessing Population Insight is easy! You will be able to log into Population Insight (www.populationinsight.org) with your existing Community Insight login, without any need to re-register, and your existing stock and neighbourhood information will be directly accessible  straight away.

If you are not yet a Community Insight subscriber, housing providers can register for a free Population Insight account at www.populationinsight.org.

Welcome to our new Community Insight Subscribers!

In January and the start of February, we welcomed First Ark, Northwood Housing, Bracknell Forest Homes, One Housing Group, Thames Valley Housing Association and Circle. This now brings the total number of homes mapped to over 500,000.

Get in touch with us now to book your Community Insight demo

Using Community Insight is easy. To find out more about how it can you and to arrange your demo, register here, or call HACT on 020 7250 8500.

Community Insight has been developed by:


Population Insight: Making sense of the 2011 Census migration data

John Perry, who has worked with HACT to develop the Population Insight tool, discusses how the software programme releases the potential of migration information available to housing providers in the data released in the recently available 2011 Census.

If housing providers aren’t already ensuring that their services meet the needs of more diverse communities, they’ve had a pointed reminder in the results of the 2011 Census now being released. Everyone knows that migration has affected the size and the composition of the population: in the last ten years, just under three-quarters of population growth has been due to immigration.  But the Census not only confirms the broad trends, it provides a one-off opportunity to look in detail at who lives in your housing stock or in the neighbourhoods where you operate, that won’t be available again for another decade.

Despite excellent work by the Guardian and others to make Census data accessible and digestible, getting your head round local-level data can be a daunting task, even if the rewards are potentially very worthwhile.  Fortunately, HACT has worked with Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion (OCSI) to provide a free tool that any housing provider in England can use, called Population Insight.  In a nutshell, what Population Insight does is to take highly detailed data on diverse communities and immigration and provide it to housing providers in a form that they can tailor to show the detail for their local authority, their neighbourhood or even particular streets.  In each case, they can compare their patch with the national data and, of course, they can also compare one patch with another or against other data such as their own tenant records.

In what ways can this be used by housing providers?  The enormous value of the Census is only partly due to the national picture it gives us, attractive though this might be to headline writers.  After all, new national data on household composition and migration are regularly available.  No, the real value of the Census lies in its fantastic detail and hence its accuracy.  No other survey in the next ten years (assuming, of course, that the Census continues) will give local authorities and housing providers such intricate and reliable data, unless they commission expensive surveys themselves.

This means that you really can use the Census to drill down and get local data for each neighbourhood you work in.  Even if you already follow the regulator’s advice to use tenant insight methods to gain better knowledge of your customer base, these have known weaknesses and you can use Census data both to check their accuracy and to see how your customers compare with the rest of the population in the areas where they live.

Let’s take a look at some possible uses.  One of the headline changes across Britain has been the growth in the foreign-born population from seven per cent in 2001 to 13 per cent in 2011.  But this only hints at a very varied picture, with some places hardly touched by immigration while others have been transformed.  For example, looking in more detail at country of birth, we can see that Boston in Lincolnshire was 98 per cent ‘white British’ in 2001 but now over ten per cent of the local population is Polish.  Housing providers based there like Boston Mayflower and Longhurst will need to know where those Polish people and other incomers actually live, and whether their representation in the housing stock is typical of the area or not.  If as a result they decide to do more work with Polish tenants or the Polish community at large, they’ll need to know how many households in a neighbourhood don’t have anyone who speaks English as their main language.

Another use of detailed data will be to see how mobile local populations are.  Mobility is a challenging issue for social landlords – while government wants tenants to be able to move more to get jobs, housing providers are aware of the unsettling effects of too much movement both within a neighbourhood and on services like schools.  Census data at local level enables you to check how much turnover there is (inflow and outflow) as well as how many people have changed address in the last 12 months.  You can check this against data for wider areas to see if population ‘churn’ is higher or lower. This will give you hard data to help you investigate why any excessive movement is occurring.

These are only two examples, but you can check out Population Insight here and see how it might work for you.  Census data is now fresh and it’s just arrived in the shops, take a close look at it before it passes its ‘sell by’ date!

HACT and OCSI launch free Population Insight tool for housing sector

The new data tool gives housing providers free access to Census 2011 data on changing demographics in their neighbourhoods.

Launched today by HACT and OCSI, and funded by MetropolitanPopulation Insight is a free online mapping tool that enables housing providers to access detailed information on changes in neighbourhood demographics using Census 2011 data released by ONS on 31 January.

Population Insight enables housing providers to generate instant community profiles on each of the neighbourhoods they manage, and map change across the areas they work in.  It also enables them to compare neighbourhoods with each other, or with a wider area.

Based on HACT and OCSI’s successful Community Insight mapping platform, it will provide housing providers with

  • free heat mapping of key demographic indicators;
  • full demographic profiling of their communities – including age, gender, country of origin, ethnicity, religion, migration status and primary language.

Housing providers using Population Insight and Community Insight will be amongst the first able to access the detailed neighbourhood level data from Census 2011 released at the end of January.

Housing providers already subscribing to Community Insight will gain access to a wider range of important new Census data at neighbourhood level, including household composition, employment profiles and household need. Both Population Insight and Community Insight will provide theinformation housing providers need to positively engage with localised population change, and the challenges this brings in relation to service design and provision, funding, changing needs, and neighbourhood integration and cohesion.

“The publication in late autumn 2012 of initial district level data from Census 2011 highlighted the extent to which populations have grown, turned over and changed in many of our communities over the last ten years.  These changes can be even more pronounced at a neighbourhood level, and impact on service provision, community relations and housing need” says Matt Leach, HACT’s CEO.

“You can really use the Census to drill down and get local data for each neighbourhood. Interestingly, we note that the main changes in the demographic profile of neighbourhoods occurred as a result of immigration.” says John Perry, CIH housing policy advisor who worked with HACT to develop the tool.

“There is a wealth of open data on demographics and population available, however it is overwhelming and difficult to interpret all these statistics, particularly at a neighbourhood level. Population Insight offers an easily understandable format of the statistics, which becomes an incredible valuable resource for housing providers.” concludes Matt Leach.

Census 2011 goes live

Neighbourhood data published last week from the census gives a detailed picture of local neighbourhoods and communities. The data is available down to the most detailed Output Area level geography (covering around 120 households), and covers ethnicity, skill levels, economic activity, general health, tenure, housing type, access to transport, household arrangements, what jobs people are doing, overcrowding, migration and country of birth.

As well as providing the detail of how local areas have changed over the 10 years since the last Census in 2001, this is the first time that such detailed data on many of these topics has been available at neighbourhood level.

With more than one billion bits of data (yes really!) being released, we’ve been hard at work crunching the numbers into Community Insight and Population Insight. The Population Insight data went live today, with users able to map and report the data on their local areas. Community Insight reports also now include Census 2011 data, with the maps being updated over the weekend.