Gypsies and Travellers

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3. Travellers Caravan Count (TCC)

We take part and submit data for the Traveller Caravan Count (TCC).

The information has been supplied by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), in response to questions put forward by the Gypsy and Traveller forum about purpose of the data collected as part of the TCC.

What feedback has been received by MHCLG into the relevance of the data?

We receive regular feedback on the release, specifically from data providers, as part of the collection process, and key user groups, such as charities and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) liaison groups.

There is an appreciation for the challenges in collecting the data, and an awareness that changes could be made to meet wider user needs. The data, as released, is considered to be robust and comprehensive in coverage, given the lack of similar alternative data sources, and relevant across a number of areas, such as informing planning and integration policies and helping local authorities understand seasonal trends in their areas and neighbouring areas.

Why are units of accommodation counted and not the number of residents?

Since its inception in the late 1970s, the Traveller Caravan Count has only ever set out to count the number of caravans and traveller sites in England. The key aim here is to help inform wider housing policy, access and demand for this community across England.

What is the data used for?

The data is collected to inform central government and local authority policy, the delivery of local services for the traveller community, and their sites and encampments. In particular, figures are used by MHCLG to identify the need for site provision and in tackling unauthorised encampments and developments as well as by the sector to monitor change over time. Recent public consultations on powers for dealing with unauthorised development and encampments and on strengthening police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments, lead by the Home Office, have drawn on this data as part of the process.

If 10% of local authorities, including large ones such as Cornwall, are not carrying out the count, does this not render the statistics somewhat pointless?

The response rate for each count is consistently above 90%. Imputed data, based on the method as outlined in the release, helps to provide an accurate estimate of the number of caravans by tenure type across England twice a year.

We continually work with local authorities to help them overcome any challenges or barriers to data collection or entry. We are also aware of the resourcing pressures in some areas and help authorities make the best possible use of the data they have available.

Is there a penalty for not carrying out the count?

The Traveller Caravan Count is amongst the collections agreed as mandatory submissions on the Single Data List, a list of all the datasets that local government must submit to central government. MHCLG must provide assurance to parliament that a core accountability system is in place for local government.

Accessible and comparable local performance data is a key part of this system; allowing the public to hold authorities to account more effectively. Principle 6 of the Single Data List helps Government to ensure that relevant data is available to the public. Where councils are under a national statutory duty to provide data, they must continue to do so under this agreement.

Accurate TCC data is required by the department and feeds in to specific indicatives such as new homes bonus payments, wider GRT strategy developments and site provision analysis. Local authority non-response impacts the collections overall accuracy and effects the department’s ability to report consistently at a national scale, which in turn has an impact on the effectiveness of such policies.

What about carrying it out every other year?

This is something which could be considered as part of a wider user consultation on the TCC after fuller assessment of user views and feedback. The department is currently considering the feasibility of launching such a consultation in the near future.