Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Administrative Data Research UK (ADR UK)

The Administrative Data Research UK (ADR UK) partnership:

  • links together data held by different parts of government
  • facilitates safe and secure access for accredited researchers to newly joined-up and de-identified datasets to enable better informed policy decisions that improve people’s lives
£105 million for the current investment period.
Current investment period 2021 to 2026.
Partners involved:
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Administrative Data Research UK Strategic Hub, Administrative Data Research Northern Ireland (ADR NI), Administrative Data Research Scotland (ADR Scotland), Administrative Data Research Wales (ADR Wales), Office for National Statistics (ONS)

The scope and what we're doing

Administrative Data Research UK (ADR UK) is a partnership of government and academic groups, including:

  • ADR England
  • ADR Northern Ireland
  • ADR Scotland
  • ADR Wales
  • the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

The partnership is coordinated by a UK-wide Strategic Hub within ESRC.

ADR UK is directed by Dr Emma Gordon.

ADR UK’s work

ADR UK is creating linked research datasets from administrative sources, making these available to researchers through our network of trusted research environments.

Administrative data is created when people interact with public services that keep records to carry out their day-to-day work. Although not originally created for research, this data has great potential to provide insights to help policymakers and others make better informed decisions.

The ONS is ADR UK’s major data infrastructure partner. ADR UK directly funds the development and expansion of the ONS Secure Research Service.

ADR UK also funds trusted research environments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, respectively run by:

Research themes

ADR UK works:

  • with expert researchers from academic institutions and other research bodies to utilise administrative data and produce valuable insights into UK society
  • closely with both UK government departments and the devolved administrations to create opportunities for its research projects to answer their questions and directly inform and influence policy

To help answer the most pressing policy questions that UK society faces, ADR UK has designed a set of research themes aligned with:

  • departmental areas of research interest
  • the stated priority research interests of the devolved administrations

ADR UK’s eight core strategic research themes are:

  • housing and communities
  • health and wellbeing
  • children and young people
  • world of work
  • growing old
  • inequality and social inclusion
  • climate and sustainability
  • crime and justice

Why we're doing it

The ADR UK model for working with data owners and researchers is all about bringing government and academic groups together into collaborative partnerships. The aim is to deliver policy-relevant research that reinforces the feedback loop between those who have collaborated with us to open up access to data and the accredited researchers commissioned to analyse it.

This model speeds up access to data by setting up these partnerships to create the linked datasets, which are then hosted in our network of trusted research environments. Any external researcher can apply to access them for research that is for the public good.

Since ADR UK began and the Digital Economy Act was fully enacted, both in 2018, the combination of having funded infrastructure and legislation in place means that research based on administrative data is now making a significant impact across a wide range of research sectors. This increases the bodies of knowledge in these areas, and informs policy and practice.

Find out more about ADR UK’s impact.

Opportunities, support and resources available

Since the programme was formed in 2018, ADR UK has made significant advances in working with government departments and academics to make de-identified administrative data available for research for the public good.

There is now an impressive collection of flagship datasets that accredited researchers can access securely through our network of trusted research environments.

To see the full list of datasets available across the partnership, visit the ADR UK Data Catalogue.

In order to support more researchers to understand, access, and use administrative data, ADR UK is also investing in a suite of training and capacity building resources which will be updated regularly on the ADR UK Learning Hub. Dataset-specific training resources can be found in flagship datasets.

ADR UK also regularly publishes easy-to-digest summaries of research insights and impact case studies to inform policy and practice across the ADR UK research themes.

Read ADR UK’s latest news and publications.

ADR UK partners have rigorous safeguards in place to ensure data is used ethically and responsibly. Read information about ethics and responsibility.

Funding opportunities

Read ADR UK’s funding opportunities information to find out about:

  • the different types of opportunities and projects ADR UK funds
  • opportunities that will be coming soon

Past projects, outcomes and impact


ADR UK projects fall under two categories:

Data linkage projects involve the creation of linked, de-identified administrative datasets in collaboration with government and academic partners. Datasets resulting from these projects are ultimately made available through ADR UK’s network of trusted research environments for ongoing use by approved researchers.

ADR UK’s research projects use existing linked data, curated either:

  • by a data linkage programme
  • by an external partner
  • specifically for the project

Projects align to one or more of ADR UK’s research themes.


As an ESRC investment, ADR UK adopts the definition of impact used by ESRC and across UK Research and Innovation as a whole: ‘impact is the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy.’

ADR UK seeks to maximise value from administrative data access, linkage, and research across five areas:

  • impact on process
  • impact on policy
  • impact on practice
  • impact on people
  • potential impact

Details of impact case studies are included in ADR UK’s impact information.

Who to contact

Ask a question about the programme

ADR UK Strategic Hub (ADR England)


ADR Northern Ireland


ADR Scotland


ADR Wales


Office for National Statistics ADR enquiries


Sign up for ADR UK updates

Get updates about new and emerging datasets, research findings and more, straight to your inbox, by signing up to the ADR UK mailing list.

Last updated: 4 January 2024

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