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The Neighbourhood Statistics Service (NeSS) was established in 2001 by the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit (NRU) - then part of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM), now Communities and Local Government (CLG) - to provide good quality small area data to support the Government's Neighbourhood Renewal agenda. This cross-Government initiative also involves the co-operation and partnership of data suppliers across departments, agencies and other organisations.
The need for Neighbourhood Statistics can be traced back to the Social Exclusion Unit's 1998 report on deprived neighbourhoods. The absence of information about neighbourhoods produced a series of failings at all levels, with policy makers unaware of the scale and location of problems but when small area information is collected and made easily available, it can radically improve strategies and service delivery.
NeSS now provides a powerful platform through which an ever increasing range of high quality small area data are disseminated to an expanding audience. It provides relevant and comprehensive information, allowing users to paint a picture of life in communities. Neighbourhood Statistics contains over 300 datasets, covering Health, Housing, Education, Deprivation, Age, Ethnicity and 2001 Census data; around 1 billion counts of information; data down to neighbourhood level (often to areas of around 250 people in size); on-line e-learning to guide users through the site; and a statistical toolkit to help users understand the data
A web service has recently been made available which enables other systems and applications to easily retrieve data from the Neighbourhood Statistics datastore for use in their own Local information systems.