Free Personal and Nursing Care: Methodology and background information, 2022-23

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Validation process

Each year, data validation work is conducted on Local Authorities’ data submissions before the official publication of the Free Personal and Nursing Care statistics.

To begin the 2022-23 validation process, each Local Authority’s data was checked, comparing against previous years’ data to identify any large increases or decreases. Any apparent problems were recorded, then highlighted to Local Authorities when sending their validation template email in mid-July 2023. 18 out of 30 Local Authorities receiving validation templates had such queries.

These ‘validation templates’ were spreadsheets summarising the statistics an LA had sent us for the latest year. One was sent to each of the 30 Local Authorities who had submitted data by mid-July 2023, who were asked to notify us if any figures had changed since they submitted them. Many Local Authorities have dynamic social care systems, so figures have often changed since they were first submitted due to updated data becoming available.

We also asked for clarification on whether missing figures truly represented zeros, or instead were because data was unavailable.

Revised figures

During the data validation process, some Local Authorities identified errors or changes to their previously submitted 2021-22 Quarter 4 (Q4) figures. This has led to previously published figures being revised for some tables. It should be noted that the revisions made at Local Authority level generally have a comparatively small effect on the Scotland figures.

Process for estimation of missing figures

As in previous years, not all Local Authorities were able to supply all variables in the Quarterly Monitoring Return. Where possible, these missing figures have been estimated, using the process below:

  • first, the sum of the figures for all Local Authorities who submitted data for the whole period of estimation was calculated for each quarter, starting from the quarter before the first quarter being estimated. If a variable was being estimated over more than one year, the set of Local Auythorities summed over was reset at the start of each financial year
  • then, the quarter-on-quarter percentage change between these figures were calculated
  • this percentage change was applied to the latest available figure for the Local Authority whose data was being estimated, and the process repeated over the time series being estimated.

This differs slightly to the method used in 2020-21 and previous years, when the year-on-year percentage change (considering Q4 only) was used.

Data presented in this report for 2022-23 that are estimated in this way are listed in the main publication, under Estimated and Missing Data. Estimated data are also marked with [e] in the accompanying tables.

Obtaining annual estimates

For ease of comparison between years, the written publication and supplementary tables ending with ‘a’ report a single figure for each year. However, the Quarterly Monitoring Return supplies a value every three months (quarterly). In order to convert these four quarterly readings per year into a single figure:

  • numbers of people and numbers of hours of care provided both use the Quarter 4 figure as representative of the annual value
  • expenditure figures are scaled up from weekly to quarterly (taking the expenditure in the final week of each quarter as representative of average weekly expenditure for that quarter). The 4 quarterly expenditures are then added together to give an annual expenditure estimate for each financial year

Figures for all four quarters are available for each variable in the tables accompanying each year’s publication.


All figures reported in the publication text and accompanying tables have been rounded for disclosure control:

  • numbers of people have been rounded to the nearest 10
  • numbers of hours of care provided have been rounded to the nearest 100
  • expenditure figures have been rounded to the nearest £1,000

In some instances within the tables, the Scotland-level total figure may not be exactly equal to the sum of figures for each Local Authority. This is because the total was calculated with unrounded data. Similarly, percentage changes calculated with rounded data may differ from those reported. All figures, including totals and year-on-year percentage changes between totals, are calculated using the un-rounded data. Rounding is the final step applied.

Suppression of small values

Some values within the accompanying tables have been replaces with [d], to indicate the underlying data has been suppressed for disclosure control. All values that rounded to zero are suppressed in this way, in other words:

  • numbers of people below 5
  • numbers of hours of care below 50
  • costs below £500

This means values labelled [d] may or may not be equal to zero.

In some cases, larger values may have also been suppressed in this way, if it would be possible to determine a person count of less than 5 from this figure (e.g. expenditure figures). Therefore, a [d] does not necessarily mean the true values lies within the ranges above.

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