Dear Ms Cooper,
Thank you for your letter of 13 January. You had concerns about comments that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care made about official deaths statistics in a radio interview on 11 January.
My office has spoken to the Secretary of State’s office, which clarified that it was not his intention to reject the official statistics, rather he was referring to the changing context since 1951.
There are indeed a range of methods for measuring expected and ‘excess’ deaths and for taking account of trends both long-term and short-term (including the pandemic), and there has been recent interest in the comparative strengths of these. In response, the Office for Statistics Regulation has carried out a review of the methods used by various statistical producers to report on excess deaths and the Office for National Statistics is inviting views to inform a review of its own methods.
Sir Robert Chote