Codes Lists for LAs LEAs and Social Services

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Title: Codes Lists for LAs LEAs and Social Services

Standards Profile

ISB STATUS =  FUTURE.  Codes Lists for LAs LEAs and Social Services

System Wide Standard

ISB Decision


There are in use in the education skills and children’s services system (ESCS) a number of lists of codes for identifying Local Education Authorities (LEAs), Local Authorities (LAs) and social services organisations. The existence of several such lists creates data sharing difficulties between systems and leaves new systems unsure of which code list to use.

A LA identification strategy is being developed and this will be put to the ISB for approval when completed. This document provides interim advice to new projects that wish to encode LAs and may need to exchange data with other systems pending the approval by the ISB of the strategy.

Standards development and/or approval of this standard has not been prioritised as part of the 2009-10 Delivery Plan.

A number of codes are in current widespread use to unambiguously identify a responsible local organisation:

  1. LEA codes: assigned by DCSF to denote the bodies responsible for provision of state education. Under current local administration arrangements the LEA function has become part of top tier Local Authorities’ responsibilities
  2. Local Authority Codes: a code for each LA defined and managed by ONS with a general set of area codes known collectively as SNAC codes. SNAC is an annual database providing tables of ONS standard names and codes for a range of UK geographies. It enables the user to relate areas to their respective geographic hierarchies. The database also offers alternative administrative area names and codes used by Communities and Local Government (CLG) and the Department of Health (DH).
  3. Social Services codes: allocated by DH to identify social services organisations. Under current local administration arrangements the Social Services function has become part of top tier Local Authorities’ responsibilities
The Cabinet Office UK Government Data Standards Catalogue has chosen to publish the LA codes ((2) above). However the use of LEA codes and Social Services codes are well entrenched and embedded within thousands of deployed

DCSF is currently preparing a strategic position paper with recommendations for the ESCS ISB on which code set or sets to use going forward.

This strategy will need to define the granularity of organisational unit that should be captured and recorded in systems. Too high a level will lead to constant code changes as functional units are moved from one administration to another. Too low a level and the costs of maintaining managed code lists increases considerably.

It is possible that the strategy will recognise education and social services as distinct functional organisations and that they will be named and encoded by separate code lists going forward. It is also possible that they will be broken down further into sub-functional areas which are named and encoded separately.

Interim Guidance

Pending setting of the ESCS strategic direction, we recommend use of the ONS SNAC codes for any LA or any organisation which is part of an LA when exchanging information between systems about Local Authorities.

Top tier LAs, Social Services and LEAs are currently co-terminous administrative areas. Therefore where an existing system is currently using another code set internally (such as the LEA code set), it is simple to convert to the SNAC code before transmission using conversion tables provided by GRO on their web site (see, enabling such systems to communicate with others without needing to make major internal changes to current database schema and validation rules.

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