20 May 2021

Government launches its response to the National Data Strategy

The UK Government will seek to operationalise the National Data Strategy and has launched a National Data Strategy Forum to ensure collaboration with the UK’s data community to take the Strategy forward.

On Tuesday 18th May, the Department for Digital, Media, Culture & Sport (DCMS) published its response to the consultation on the National Data Strategy, which ran from September to November 2020. In its response the Government sets out the key themes of feedback received and how this will inform the Strategy’s implementation.

The Government has also launched a National Data Strategy Forum, co-chaired by techUK, to drive further stakeholder engagement as the Strategy is put into action.

What is the National Data Strategy?

The National Data Strategy is the Government’s vision to make the UK “the world’s number one data destination”. It sets out a framework through which the UK can realise the benefits from better data use.

The Strategy, which captures various aspects and sectors within our data economy, lays out five priority ‘missions’ to be taken to seize the opportunities that data offers. The five missions include:

  • Unlocking the value of data across the economy
  • Securing a pro-growth and trusted data regime
  • Transforming government’s use of data to drive efficiency and improve public services
  • Ensuring the security and resilience of the infrastructure on which data relies
  • Championing the international flow of data

The Government has also identified four interconnected issues, or “pillars”, that must be tackled alongside these areas of action. The four pillars include:

  • Data foundations
  • Data skills
  • Data availability
  • Responsible data use

How the Government says it will take the strategy forward:

In its response to the consultation the UK Government says it is committed to ensuring that the National Data Strategy works for “everyone, everywhere”. This includes ensuring ongoing stakeholder engagement; drawing attention to specific challenges around digital bias, digital inclusion and connectivity; as well as the need for more widespread digital skills to operate and thrive in a data-driven economy.

In our response to the consultation techUK highlighted the local and regional government’s key roles in supporting levelling-up through more effective data sharing We also urged the Government to recognise the important role the National Data Strategy has to play in supporting a greener, more sustainable economy and it is good to see both these issues highlighted in the Government’s response.

The Government has set out actions aiming to “lead by example” and build trust in government’s own use of data. These include:

The Government has also committed to maintain momentum across wider priority areas through key leadership appointments and international activity, which include:

  • confirming a new Information Commissioner
  • announcing a new Board and Chair for the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation
  • announcing the UK’s priority countries for UK data adequacy agreements

The National Data Strategy Forum

The National Data Strategy Forum, co-chaired by John Whittingdale, Minister of State for Media and Data, and Sue Daley, Director for Technology and Innovation at techUK, will be a series of stakeholder discussions convened by DCMS to help shape the development of the future vision of the Strategy, as well as ensure continued collaboration with key advocates and influencers from a cross-section of stakeholder groups.

techUK welcomes the Government’s consultative and inclusive approach to operationalising the Strategy. Establishing a Forum through which collaboration could be achieved with industry and other stakeholders was one of the recommendations highlighted in techUK’s response to the consultation.

Next steps for the National Data Strategy

On Tuesday 18th May, techUK held a virtual in-conversation with Rt. Hon John Whittingdale, Minister of State for Media and Data on ‘What’s next for the National Data Strategy’. A recording of the event could be found here.

In this discussion, it was stated that the Government’s focus will now shift from consultation to implementation to deliver on the Strategy’s five key missions.

The implementation work programme is designed with four core priorities:

  1. Monitoring the delivery of the actions that Government committed to in the September publication by developing a set of high-level indicators to map the overall progress of implementation.
  2. Developing a governance framework to ensure clear lines of accountability for implementation, including establishing a cross-Whitehall National Data Strategy Implementation Steering Group.
  3. Scoping the most effective metrics to evaluate and measure the impact of Government policy on the National Data Strategy to further support its implementation.
  4. Launch the National Data Strategy Forum.

Furthermore, the Government has committed itself to a phased approach regarding future publications, which will see it sharing more frequent, focused updates against and across the Missions, to ensure openness and collaboration in its approach moving forward. techUK will continue to monitor these developments and keep members updated via our data protection workstream, you can find our more here.  

Today’s announcements show how determined the Government is to make the UK a global destination for data innovation. techUK is excited to play our part in this as a co-chair of the National Data Strategy Forum. The Forum will be central to bringing together the industry, academia and civil society to deliver a data strategy that supports innovation and is built on trust, helping unleash the potential of data driven technologies across the UK.

Sue Daley, Director for Technology and Innovation at techUK


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