A report showing that official statistics continue to enjoy a strong reputation was today welcomed by the UK Statistics Authority.

The Public Confidence in Official Statistics 2023 survey, conducted independently by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), found that survey respondents’ trust in the ONS remained very high even while the reputation of other state institutions slipped back since 2021.

Analysis of the survey by NatCen, including any comparisons over time, focuses on comparing responses among those able to express an opinion, excluding any ‘don’t know’ or other missing responses unless otherwise stated. Further details are available in the accompanying Methodological Note and technical report*.


87% of those who expressed a view said they tend to trust the ONS, or trust it a great deal; and 85% similarly said they trusted the statistics it produces. Furthermore,

  • 90% of respondents indicated they believed that personal information provided to the ONS would be kept confidential
  • Trust in the ONS remained consistent with the high levels seen in 2021 during the pandemic, while trust fell in other state institutions.

Proportion of respondents that reported trusting different institutions in British public life

A bar chart compares percentages of respondents who indicated they trusted various institutions. Results compare responses from 2018, 2021, and 2023. ONS scores the highest among respondents, with consistent reported trust: 88% in 2018, 89% in 2021, and 87% in 2023. Other institutions such as the media and the civil service saw lower reported trust and a larger fall between 2021 and 2023. Chart and data available at [LINK]

Source: British Social Attitudes 2018 and Public Confidence in Official Statistics 2021 and 2023


Reported trust in the ONS was very high regardless of whether respondents said they personally used ONS statistics: 82% among non-users and 99% of those who said they were frequent users. The vast majority agreed that ONS statistics reflect changes in the UK, when asked specifically about:

  • The Census (85%)
  • Consumer Prices Index (CPI) (79%)
  • Employment (80%)
  • GDP (79%)
  • Crime (74%)

Percentage of respondents reporting agreement that statistics reflect changes in the UK

A bar chart compares percentages of respondents who agreed that specific statistics from the ONS 'reflect changes in the UK': the Census, CPI, Employment, GDP, and Crime. Results compare responses from 2014 ,2016, 2018, 2021, and 2023. Within this group, the Census scored the highest agreement among respondents in any given year (85% in 2023) while Crime scored the lowest in any given year (74% in 2023)

Source: British Social Attitudes 2014, 2016, 2018 and Public Confidence in Official Statistics 2021 and 2023


Among those who said they trusted ONS statistics, the most common reasons given were that ONS

  • ‘did not have a vested interest in, or manipulate, the results’ (63%)
  • ‘are experts in statistics’ (56%

Conversely, the most common reasons given by those who indicated they distrusted ONS statistics were that the data

  • were ‘being misrepresented by politicians’ (49%)
  • ‘do not alone tell the whole story’ (45%)

The majority agreed that statistics produced by the ONS were free from political interference (72%). However, most respondents disagreed that the government (68%) or the media (75%) present statistics honestly.

Many more survey respondents indicated that they knew of the ONS (74% claimed to know it well, or know it somewhat) than the UK Statistics Authority’s other executive arm, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) (18%), or the Authority itself (22%). Nonetheless, as with the last edition of the survey, respondents overwhelmingly supported the Authority’s independent role:

  • 95% of respondents agreed that it is important for an independent body such as the Authority to speak out against the misuse of statistics, including 66% who agreed strongly
  • 94% of respondents agreed about the importance of there being a body to ensure that official statistics are produced without political interference, including 66% who agreed strongly

Sir Robert Chote, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, said: “While this is just one source of information about how people view the statistical system, it’s reassuring that trust has remained consistently high over time among those who respond, although we shouldn’t be surprised if we see some change next year given the challenges the system has had to confront in more recent months.

“As recommended by the recent independent review of the Authority, later this year we (together with the Royal Statistical Society) will convene a Statistical Assembly of producers, users and stakeholders, to explore how we can best serve the public good over the next three years.”

Professor Sir Ian Diamond, National Statistician, said: “Now more than ever it is vitally important that citizens know where to find reliable, impartial statistics and trust the Office for National Statistics to handle their data safely and responsibly. We will continue to work hard to maintain and build upon that trust as we continue to modernise and improve our statistics in the months and years ahead.”

Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation at Office for Statistics Regulation, said: “The survey provides reassuring evidence that people do value statistics. And just as importantly, it shows that people value our regulatory role in standing up against the misuse of statistics.”

* Research conducted by NatCen and commissioned by the UK Statistics Authority. Fieldwork took place between 4 October and 17 December 2023. Interviews were achieved with a representative sample of 2,364 adults aged 18 and over in Britain from 1,695 households. A technical report outlining the survey methodology for this project is available on the NatCen website.



Media enquiries:

For queries about the Office for National Statistics, please contact: mediarelations@ons.gov.uk

For queries about the UK Statistics Authority, please contact press@statistics.gov.uk

For queries about the Office for Statistics Regulation, please contact regulation@statistics.gov.uk

A full version of Public Confidence in Official Statistics 2023, with a technical report and summary tables, is available on request from NatCen, or at launch on their website. For queries specific to the research, please contact +44 20 7549 8504)


The UK Statistics Authority and the statistical system

The UK Statistics Authority is an independent body operating at arm’s length from government as a non-ministerial department, directly accountable to Parliament. It was established on 1 April 2008 by the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.

The Authority’s statutory objective is to promote and safeguard the production and publication of official statistics that serve the public good. It is also required to promote and safeguard the quality and comprehensiveness of official statistics, and ensure good practice in relation to official statistics.

The Board of the Authority is responsible for oversight of the statistical system, which includes its executive arms, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) and Office for National Statistics (ONS), as well as the Government Statistical Service (GSS), which is a community of all those involved in the production of official statistics in the UK.

An independent review of the UK Statistics Authority was carried out in 2023 by Professor Denise Lievesley on behalf the Cabinet Office, publishing its report in March 2024.



The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), Britain’s largest independent social research organisation, aims to make life better through high quality social research (www.natcen.ac.uk).

The Public Confidence in Official Statistics survey has been run at regular intervals since 2004, most recently as an independent survey in 2021, but also as part of NatCen’s face-to-face British Social Attitudes survey or BSA (in 2014, 2016, 2018). This research was commissioned by the UK Statistics Authority.