NatCen Social Research has today published the results of a survey of public confidence in official statistics, commissioned by the UK Statistics Authority.(1) Among the survey’s findings are that:

  • 71 per cent of the public think that official statistics should be made equally available to everybody at the same time. Only 25 per cent think that the current rules for ‘pre-release access’, where Government Ministers and their advisers are shown official statistics before they are released, should continue.
  • 88 per cent of those who expressed an opinion trusted the ONS as an institution. The level of public trust in ONS is broadly similar to the levels of public trust in the National Statistics Institutes of Australia, Sweden and Denmark, as reported in similar surveys.
  • Only 28 per cent of those who expressed an opinion agreed that ‘Government presents official figures honestly when discussing its policies’.

Speaking today, Sir Andrew Dilnot, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, encouraged the reconsideration of the pre-release access rules. He said:

“These new survey results indicate a level of public trust in ONS that is encouraging, but confusion and distrust about the way official statistics are used remains an issue.

“The current pre-release access given to Ministers and their advisers undermines public confidence in official statistics. The UK’s arrangements for pre-release access fall a long way short of international best practice. The UK Statistics Authority believes that official statistics should be available at the same time for everybody and that pre-release access should be ended.”

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  1. NatCen press release.
    Full report: