Office for Statistics Regulation written evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee’s inquiry on Social Care: Funding and Workforce

Dear Mr Hunt,

I write in response to the Health and Social Care Committee’s call for evidence for the inquiry considering Social Care: Funding and Workforce.

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is the independent regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority.

We provide independent regulation of all official statistics produced in the UK, including those in Devolved Nations and the NHS. Our regulatory work is underpinned by the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.

We set the standards official statistics must meet through the statutory Code of Practice for Statistics. We ensure that producers of official statistics uphold these standards by conducting assessments against the Code. Those which meet the standards are given National Statistics status, indicating that they meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality, and value. We also report publicly on system-wide issues and on the way statistics are being used, celebrating when the standards are upheld and challenging publicly when they are not.

In January 2020, the OSR published findings from an in-depth review of Adult Social Care statistics in England. We are using this report as the basis for our submission to the Committee, the findings of which have never been more relevant as society adjusts to the rapid changes resulting from the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

There are gaps in the data and information that might tell us about the real cost of providing social care and ensuring good outcomes for people who need social care. Our review finds that this important sector of public policy is very poorly served by data. Social care has not been measured or managed as visibly as hospital care. The gaps in data and analysis make it harder for individuals and organisations to make informed decisions.

We want to see improvements to the existing statistics, as well as more fundamental changes. This will require a cross-government commitment to improvements. We strongly encourage the implementation of joined up data across health and social care to understand how the two systems interact, and what drives the best outcomes.

Our review highlighted three main areas for attention:

• Better leadership and collaboration across the many different organisations involved in the process of publishing official statistics on social care, that enables working across boundaries to join-up government departments, local authorities and between public and private sector providers.
• Addressing gaps in available data as most information available comes from local authorities with responsibilities for adult social services and does not cover private household expenditure, privately funded care, or the value of unpaid care, meaning the total cost of social care provision remains unknown.
• Improving existing official statistics through accessibility, coherence, quality, timeliness, and granularity of the data to provide insight and allow existing data to better meet user needs.

We have said for some time that there is no parity of measure between the health and social care sectors. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on care homes and clearly shown that the approach to measurement in the social care sector has been lacking. In a response to the disease, there is now more data available on social care – this should continue after the pandemic ends.

The Committee may also be interested in our other work in response to COVID-19. This includes rapid regulatory reviews of new outputs from the Government Statistical Service, and statements advocating improvements to the presentation and availability of data on COVID-19.

We will continue to work with a range of organisations to make the case for improvements to social care statistics in England and more widely across the UK. We hope to raise the profile of these issues through this submission.

I look forward to seeing the conclusions of your inquiry. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any further assistance.

Your sincerely,
Ed Humpherson
Director General for Regulation

 

ANEX

Overview

1. This submission is based on the findings from our review of Adult Social Care Statistics in England published in January 2020.

2. Adult social care is a large and important area which requires strong evidence to support effective policy development, delivery of care and personal choice. Better data infrastructure and outputs which address the gaps in existing data are essential for individuals and organisations to make informed decisions

3. Improved data matters in solving problems, supporting efficiency, and maximising outcomes. It is also important to inform decisions made by individuals about the care they receive or provide for themselves and their families. Collaboration across traditional boundaries, across public and private sectors, is necessary to deliver the coherent and complete picture of adult social care.
Better leadership and collaboration

4. There needs to be a strong voice to champion statistics that meet a range of user needs and strong leadership to implement the required changes. Many different organisations are involved in publishing official statistics on social care. Making improvements will require collaboration across government departments; local authorities; and between public and private sector providers.

5. In line with the introduction of new technologies to assist healthcare, we want to see progress made with proposed infrastructure that will support the integration of health and
social care data so that there is a better understanding of the interaction between health and care and an individual’s experience. We welcome plans set out in the government’s vision for digital, data and technology in health and care. We hope the establishment of NHSX, a body to ‘progress digital transformation of the NHS’, will allow government to deliver on this ambition while considering data needs. There is also potential for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to support the sector through innovative approaches to data analysis, such as data linking, and use of provisions in the Digital Economy Act.

Addressing data gaps

6. There are significant gaps in what adult social care data currently measures:

• Delivery of social care outside statutory control: Statistics on social care activity are primarily sourced from data provided by Councils with Adult Social Services Responsibilities (CASSRs). The established assessment criteria mean that many individuals privately funding care or receiving informal care have little or no contact with a local authority. CASSRs can therefore only measure part of the picture. These limited data have to act as a proxy for the whole social care sector. The information on unmet need and future demand is also limited.
• Funding outside statutory control: There are gaps in understanding of the scale of household expenditure on privately funded care and the value of unpaid care. There is no official estimate of the value of unpaid care provided by family and friends, but unofficial estimates that do exist vary between £100bn and £132bn per year, far exceeding HM Treasury spending*, giving a sense of the unacknowledged value of this support.
• Individual experiences and quality of care: There is little information on pathways and transitions between health care and social care – new infrastructure is required to effectively address this. There is also little information on the quality of care and outcomes for those who experience social care.

7. The gaps identified are significant and need to be addressed in order to support effective delivery and facilitate improved outcomes for those who experience social care. There is public and  policy interest in knowing about social care activity and spend wherever it happens, whether in the home, in a residential home or nursing home. The traditional route of relying on data collected by local authorities to complete official statistics is not enough.

Improving existing official statistics

8. Looking across existing statistics on adult social care we found some good examples of insightful analyses, However, there were many instances where we identified that improvements were necessary. There are improvements which should be made to the existing official statistics, around:

• Accessibility
• Coherence
• Quality
• Timeliness
• Granularity of the data

9. Changes in these areas could improve insight and allow the existing data to better meet user needs. We welcome the ONS proposals for a portal to signpost users to existing social care statistics, and want to see all producers of social care statistics take on the recommendations we have set out in letters to the relevant Head of Profession for Statistics following our detailed review of official statistics outputs as part of this review.

10. We will continue to work with a range of organisations to make the case for improvements to social care statistics. We hope to raise the profile of the  issues highlighted in this report and work towards parity of esteem between health and social care statistics.

11. Improved statistics can support policy makers who are developing proposals to reform delivery of adult social care, as well as individuals who will be able to hold government to account and make better informed decisions about the issues impacting their lives and their families.

Data and statistics on COVID-19 impacts on the care sector

12. Statistics on COVID-19 in the care sector – including care home outbreaks, the number of suspected COVID-19 cases in care homes, and registered deaths in care homes involving COVID-19 – are currently released through a variety of different reports including daily and weekly surveillance reports and within weekly registered death releases. These statistics start to provide a picture of the impacts on those receiving care and help decision makers to understand and manage COVID-19 within care settings. However, further analyses are needed to provide context and facilitate a better understanding of key areas for concern.

13. To further improve these statistics, we suggest producers continue collaborating to present a coherent picture of the impact of COVID-19 on those in care settings across the UK. For example, the ONS is collaborating with the Care Quality Commission in England and the Care Inspectorate Wales to publish early estimates of COVID-19 related deaths in care homes. We welcome these new data and efforts and recognise that producers are seeking to develop statistics provision in this area.

14. Producers also need to explain the wider context of COVID-19 and the large number of deaths for those in care settings. There is a need for information to contextualise the data and statistics on deaths in the sector as well as to support management of COVID-19.

15. Alongside this, producers need to understand and assess the impact of any changes in the circumstances and context of data sources, and any implications for use should be clearly explained. Within the varied landscape of statistics and data on those in care settings, producers should make the definitions within their outputs clear to users. For example, clearly identifying statistics as deaths involving COVID-19, deaths due to COVID-19, or deaths of those with a positive test result.

16. Producers should work closely with relevant parties, such as the Care Quality Commission, to understand and investigate any changes in the recording of COVID-19 on death certificates which may impact on the accuracy of the data on deaths in the care sector.

17. There is a need for producers to provide or enable regional comparisons where possible, with guidance and contextual information to support the interpretation of the statistics, as well as UK comparisons where possible. Guidance should be provided on whether the data from different countries of the UK can be compared to help users understand and interpret the statistics. The  similarities and differences between the country-level data should be clearly explained, particularly any differences in care provision, differences in the characteristics of the population of those receiving care, and data collection methods that could affect the ability to make comparisons.

18. The OSR has also published a full statement on data and statistics around the impact of COVID-19 on the care sector.

OFFICE FOR STATISTICS REGULATION, JUNE 2020

 

* Latest figures from HM Treasury show that public expenditure on personal social services in England (table 10.1 of that report) amounted to £24.5 billion in 2017/18, and this does not include the significant private expenditure on social care.

Office for National Statistics and Office for Statistics Regulation oral evidence to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s inquiry regarding COVID-19 data

On Wednesday 13 May 2020 Professor Sir Ian Diamond, UK National Statistician; Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation, UK Statistics Authority gave oral evidence to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s inquiry regarding COVID-19 data.

A transcript of which has been published on the UK Parliament’s website.

Related Links:

Professor Ian Diamond to William Wragg MP, Chair PACAC regarding COVID-19 (April 2020)
Ed Humpherson to William Wragg MP, Chair PACAC regarding COVID-19 (April 2020)

Office for Statistics Regulation written evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Sub-committee on online harms and disinformation’s inquiry of the same name

Dear Chair,

I write in response to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation call for evidence.

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) provides independent regulation of all statistics produced by the UK Government, Devolved Nations and by all related public bodies. The OSR is the independent regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority (the Authority), which was established by the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 (the SRSA).

We set the standards producers of official statistics must meet through the statutory Code of
Practice for Statistics. We assess compliance with this Code, and designate statistics as National Statistics. There are three pillars of the Code:

• Trustworthiness: trusted people, systems and processes
• Quality: robust data, method and statistics
• Value: statistics that serve the public good

Our role is to ensure that statistics serve the public good. In a world in which data and information are abundant, people can feel bombarded by information. We focus on the government as a provider of information and statistics, disseminating a reliable, impartial evidence base.

While we also have an important role in challenging instances of statistical misuse (misinformation), most of our regulatory work focuses on what it means to inform society. We help the public to identify the statistics that meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and value and we challenge producers to fill data gaps to better inform society.

This is a very difficult time for everyone as the UK adjusts to rapid changes in society and the economy. Organisations that produce official statistics are showing flexibility and adapting what they collect and publish to respond to this new environment. The pace at which these organisations have set up new data collection and dissemination processes has been unprecedented and enables timely updates on the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, as well as the economic and societal impacts of the pandemic.

In response to COVID-19 we have developed a package of measures including guidance on factors that producers should consider when making changes to data collection and statistics. We have carried out short regulatory reviews of new COVID-19 questions added to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Opinions and Lifestyle survey, and of new experimental faster indicators constructed from rapid response surveys, novel data sources and experimental methods.

In accordance with our interventions policy we have responded to concerns about the publication of data on COVID-19 cases and deaths, and have called on the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure management information on Universal Credit used in daily briefings is published and accessible to the public. We have undertaken a review of all the data releases on COVID-19 cases and deaths – at a UK level and for each country within the UK – to help understanding of the available sources and to highlight strengths and areas for improvement.
Following our interventions regarding data on COVID-19 cases and deaths, there have been improvements in the information provided by government. In particular, there is now much greater clarity that the daily deaths data is incomplete and does not include deaths in all settings. It is a leading indicator, however, with the weekly figures from the ONS (and National Records of Scotland and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency) providing a more complete picture of deaths associated with COVID-19.

However, in order to maintain public confidence in these crucial statistics, we are encouraging producers to continue to clarify the nature and extent of the uncertainty around the UK estimates of deaths associated with COVID-19, and what the figures do and not include. We also continue to state our expectation that any management information used as part of daily public briefings is published and accessible to the public.

In summary, while combatting misinformation is crucial, it is also essential that the public receives information from government that is trustworthy, high quality and valuable – and enabling that outcome is the heart of OSR’s mission.

I hope the Committee finds this evidence to be helpful. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any further assistance.

Yours sincerely
Ed Humpherson
Director General for Regulation

Office for Statistics Regulation correspondence to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee regarding cases and deaths from COVID-19

Dear Mr Wragg,

As Director General for Regulation at the UK Statistics Authority and Head of the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR), I write in response to your letter of 14 April to the National Statistician, covering the regulatory perspective on COVID-19 statistics and data. This letter summarises OSR’s review of data and statistics on COVID-19 cases and mortality, including trustworthiness, quality and value. It also considers broader regulatory points about the use of management information, and statistics on adult social care.

This is a very difficult time for everyone as the UK adjusts to rapid changes in society and the economy. OSR commends the flexibility and level of responsiveness shown by organisations that produce official statistics in adapting to this new environment and will continue to support further improvements to statistics and data on COVID-19.

Reviewing statistics and data

OSR has undertaken a review of all the data releases on COVID-19 cases and deaths – at a UK level and for each country within the UK – to help understanding of the available sources and to highlight strengths and our view on areas for improvement. The relative strengths and limitations were considered within the context of the three pillars of the Code of Practice for Statistics that you
mentioned, referred to as TQV:

• Trustworthiness: governance, including people, systems and processes
• Quality: robust data, method and statistics
• Value: statistics that answer people’s key questions

The document we published yesterday outlines the findings from our review. It acknowledges that there is value in having timely data, such as the daily surveillance data covering the UK that is published by DHSC less than 24 hours after the data reporting period. This output provides an important leading indicator of the trend in COVID-19 testing, cases and deaths. However, with this timeliness there is a trade-off with completeness, for example, publishing the setting where the death occurs. Because the data from England only captures deaths in hospitals and not deaths in the wider community, these UK daily outputs struggle to meet the needs of all users and require continuous innovation to include information about where the death took place. We understand that the ONS is working with the Care Quality Commission to publish further data on deaths in care home residences. Secondly, although we have seen notable improvements in the metadata that accompany the daily data for each nation, the nature and extent of the uncertainty around the UK estimates of deaths associated with COVID-19 could be clearer. Finally, we are concerned about the accessibility of the data from all four nations and have asked the Government Statistical Service to consider enabling users to navigate all COVID-19 related outputs from a central hub. None of the
daily data releases are designated as National Statistics.

In contrast, the weekly mortality statistics published by the ONS for England and Wales, and by the National Records of Scotland and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, provide a more complete measure of the number of people whose deaths are associated with COVID-19, but these statistics are released with a greater time lag and are not designed to measure the spread of a pandemic in close to real-time. Weekly death registration reports focusing on COVID-19 use a variety of data recorded on the death certificate, such as setting of death, sex, age band and underlying diseases that may have contributed to a death. Overall, the weekly mortality statistics largely fulfil the Code’s expectations on trustworthiness, quality and value. Unlike the daily data, the weekly mortality statistics published for England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are all designated as National Statistics.

Broader regulatory points

There are two further regulatory points I wanted to draw to your attention. First, there is a wide range of information being used by Government to inform its understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and society. Where that management information is used as part of daily public briefings, it should be published and accessible to the wider public. Second, you note that concerns have been expressed about the limited information on deaths in care homes compared to deaths in hospitals. These concerns echo the findings of OSR’s review of statistics on social care for England, published in January 2020: we concluded that, when comparing social care to the data-rich health system, there are inadequate statistics. We called for greater parity of measurement between the two.

Our document published yesterday includes more detail on our work on COVID-19 statistics and data, and I hope the Committee finds this letter to be helpful.

Yours sincerely
Ed Humpherson

Related Links:

Professor Ian Diamond to William Wragg MP, Chair PACAC (April 2020)
ONS and OSR Oral evidence to PACAC regarding COVID-19 (May 2020)

Office for Statistics Regulation written evidence to Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee’s inquiry on the future of social care delivery in Scotland

Dear Lewis

THE FUTURE DELIVERY OF SOCIAL CARE IN SCOTLAND: OSR INQUIRY SUBMISSION

We have today published our review of Adult Social Care Statistics in Scotland. We are using this work as the basis of our submission to the Health and Sport Committee’s Social Care Inquiry (see
annex).

Statistics that support our understanding of people who need or provide care, the impact it has on their lives, how the adult social care sector is currently delivered and how this might need to change in the future are an essential element in an ideal model of care. Without adequate statistics it is also impossible to assess the extent to which social care provision is equitable.

Our submission outlines various issues affecting the quality and value of adult social care statistics in Scotland that need to be addressed. Statistics producers have clearly demonstrated their strong understanding of these issues and share many of the concerns that users raised with us. Work is already underway to bring about positive improvements to adult social care data and statistics in Scotland. However, we believe that a major transformation of adult social care data and statistics is needed to fully meet users’ needs and this will require more fundamental action. We have made recommendations in three strategic areas to support this:

• clearer responsibility for analytical leadership is required to scope and deliver local and national level improvements
• the imbalance in resources currently available for health service and social care statistics needs to be addressed
• data systems need investment to improve the quality of existing datasets and to identify ways to capture new data to fill the many gaps that users have identified.

We will continue to work with a range of organisations to make the case for improvements to social care statistics in Scotland and more widely across the UK. We hope to raise the profile of these
issues through this inquiry submission, the more detailed report about Scotland published today, and via our companion reports about adult social care statistics in England and Wales.

I look forward to seeing the conclusions of your inquiry.

Your sincerely
Ed Humpherson
Director General for Regulation

 

 

ANNEX
SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT: SOCIAL CARE INQUIRY
SUBMISSION FROM THE OFFICE FOR STATISTICS REGULATION

What we do

1. The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is the independent regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority. We provide independent regulation of all official statistics produced in the UK, including those in Devolved Nations and the NHS. Our regulatory work is underpinned by the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.
2. We set the standards official statistics must meet through the statutory Code of Practice for Statistics. We ensure that producers of official statistics uphold these standards by conducting
assessments against the Code. Those which meet the standards are given National Statistics status, indicating that they meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and value. We
also report publicly on system-wide issues and on the way statistics are being used, celebrating when the standards are upheld and challenging publicly when they are not.
3. We have staff in three locations: Newport, Wales; London; and Edinburgh.

This submission

4. This submission, which is based on the findings from our Review of Adult Social Care Statistics in Scotland, published on 20 February 2020, addresses the following two questions being
asked by the Inquiry:
• Q3: Looking ahead, what are the essential elements in an ideal model of social care (e.g. workforce, technology, housing etc.)?
• Q4: What needs to happen to ensure the equitable provision of social care across the country?

5. Statistics that support our understanding of people who need or provide care, the impact it has on their lives, how the adult social care sector is currently delivered and how this might need to
change in the future are an essential element in an ideal model of care. Without adequate statistics it is also impossible to assess the extent to which social care provision is equitable.

Are adult social care statistics in Scotland meeting users’ needs?

6. Statistics serve the public good when they enable a wide range of users to answer important questions. To do this adequately they need to:
• add value by covering the topics that matter to people
• have insightful commentary that draws out key messages
• tell a coherent story focused on the needs of information seekers, not providers
• be based on data of a suitable quality
• be published in a timely fashion
• be accessible in formats that support further analyses.

7. During our review we spoke to statistics users and producers, and conducted our own analysis of the adult social care statistics landscape. Based on the evidence we gathered, it is clear that
there are issues in all these areas that need to be addressed.
• There are gaps in the provision of statistics on social care – we don’t know how many people currently need social care and whether those needs are being met, how many people might
need care in future, and we don’t know how well social care services achieve their goals of helping people to live independently and maintain a good quality of life. It is difficult to estimate the total amount of public expenditure committed to adult social care. Out-of-pocket spending by individuals and their families is even harder to identify. Further examples of
questions that users told us they couldn’t answer are provided at the end of this submission.
• Many of the existing statistics that are published need more insightful commentary, and there needs to be greater coherence between all the different sets of statistics to make it easier for
users to see the complete picture about this sector. The timeliness of some statistics needs to be improved.
• Data quality is improving over time, but major challenges still remain, and re-use of social care data for research is not as extensive as it could be.

8. These issues affect a wide range of people and organisations who are not having their analytical needs fully met. These include: the general public, care users, care providers, Integrated Joint Boards, councils, NHS bodies, councillors and members of parliament, scrutiny and regulatory bodies, academics and researchers, and Scottish Government policy makers.
9. These gaps matter: statistics are necessary to inform policy, workforce planning and budget allocation. Individual users of care and their families need reliable information to help inform
their decisions. It is impossible to develop and evaluate future models of adult social care delivery without knowing how things stand currently.

Improving adult social care statistics

10. The statistics users we spoke to had a strong vision of what social care statistics should be delivering. And while there is currently a large gap between this vision and what currently
exists, official statistics producers in Scottish Government, ISD, the Scottish Social Services Council and the Care Inspectorate clearly share many of the concerns raised by users and are
demonstrating a strong appetite to make improvements. For example, the following developments are already helping to address some of these issues:

• new national data systems have been developed to improve data collection about the adult social care services delivered and funded by health and social care partnerships
• new statistics based on these data have been produced by ISD and users have been actively involved in shaping their development
• statistics based on the new Carers Census will be published by Scottish Government in 2020 that will deliver insights that are unavailable elsewhere in the UK
• new workforce statistics about vacancy rates have been developed by SSSC and the Care Inspectorate and plans are in place to make more use of data collected via inspections of social care services.

The Office for Statistics Regulation’s recommendations for adult social care statistics in Scotland

11. Building on the developments that statistics producers have already implemented, we have four recommendations to support further short to medium-term improvements.
• All social care statistics producers need to work together, in consultation with health and social care partnerships and statistics users, to identify and prioritise actions to address social
care data gaps – including by making better use of existing data – and meet users’ information needs.
• All social care statistics producers should work together – with statistics users – to identify ways to make social care statistics in Scotland more coherent. The social care topics that
matter to users should be the guiding framework for statistics presentation.
• Public Health Scotland, Scottish Government and the Care Inspectorate need to work together to identify a long-term solution that enables social care data to be shared safely and
efficiently.
• Public Health Scotland and Scottish Government should convene a social care data user summit in 2020 to help inform Research Data Scotland’s development and Public Health
Scotland’s plans for making more use of linked health and social care data.

12. The long-term transformation of adult social care statistics in Scotland will need more fundamental action. We have made recommendations in three strategic areas to support this.
• Clearer leadership to drive analytical integration – responsibility for social care statistics production is currently spread between different organisations. This can act as a barrier to the
more joined-up approach to data collection and analysis that is needed to improve the public good of the statistics. Clearer responsibility for analytical leadership is required to scope and
deliver local and national level improvements.
• Rebalance resources – there is an imbalance between the resources available for health service statistics production and social care statistics. This imbalance exists at all levels, from
the national bodies responsible for publishing statistics down to the teams and systems supporting data collection in local areas.
• Invest in data systems – the biggest challenge – logistically, technically and financially – is improving the underlying data used to create social care statistics. This will involve improving
the quality of existing data and identifying ways to capture new data to fill the many gaps that users have identified.

13. We will continue to use our voice to support the many innovations and improvements to data capture, analysis and dissemination that are already happening, and to advocate for further
developments in this area, to ensure that the statistics better reflect the lived experience of people using social care services.

Example questions about adult social care that users told us they cannot answer

Questions about people needing social care

• Is social care meeting its goals of helping people to live independently and maintain a good quality of life?
• What is the extent of unmet social care need in the population?
• How does adult social care use vary by protected characteristics and other sub-groups of interest?
• How many people are waiting for social care assessments and how long are they waiting for?
• What social security benefits are social care users receiving?

Questions about adult social care service delivery

• Where is there good practice locally?
• Are the right services being provided?
• How does service provision vary across Scotland (evidencing the postcode lottery)?
• Why does Self Directed Support (SDS) use vary across Scotland?
• What is the extent of adult social care input in end of life and palliative care?
• What are peoples’ experiences of using adult social care?
• What contributions do anticipatory and intermediate care make?

Questions about the cost of social care

• How much is spent on adult social care – by central government, local government, NHS boards?
• What is the extent of individuals self-funding regulated and unregulated care?
• How are Self Directed Support (SDS) budgets spent?

 

 

Office for Statistics Regulation written evidence to the Lords Democracy and Digital Technologies Committee’s inquiry of the same name

Dear Lord Puttnam,

Following my appearance before the Lords Democracy and Digital Technologies Committee on 28 January 2020, I am writing to offer my thanks for the invitation to contribute to such an important inquiry. I would also like to reiterate what I said to you in person: I really enjoyed the discussion and the opportunity to present the work of the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) to the Committee.

I also wanted to share a recent blog which describes our approach in protecting the role of statistics both during election periods and beyond. The blog summarises some of the interventions we made during the recent 2019 General Election and outlines our role in ensuring that the underlying statistics used in political debate are not being misrepresented – and if they are, that we will seek to clarify how they should be interpreted.

I would be very happy to discuss the content of the blog and the work of the OSR further with the Committee.

Yours sincerely

Ed Humpherson
Director General for Regulation

Related Links:

Office for Statistics Regulation oral evidence to Democracy and Digital Technologies Select Committee as part of their Democracy and Digital Technologies inquiry (January 2020)

Office for Statistics Regulation oral evidence to the Lords Democracy and Digital Technologies Committee’s inquiry of the same name

On Tuesday 28 January 2020,  Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation, UK Statistics Authority gave evidence to the Lords Democracy and Digital Technologies Committee’s inquiry of the same name.

A transcript of which has been published on the UK Parliament’s website.

Related Links:

Office for Statistics Regulation written evidence to Democracy and Digital Technologies Select Committee as part of their Democracy and Digital Technologies inquiry (January 2020)

Office for Statistics Regulation follow-up written evidence to the Treasury Committee’s inquiry on regional imbalances in the UK economy

Dear Chair,

Following my appearance before the Committee on 30 October 2019 as part of its inquiry considering Regional Imbalances in the UK Economy, members requested I write to the Committee on the pathway towards providing enhanced regional economic statistics, and their inclusion in official publications. Committee members were interested in the pros and cons of including such statistics on a more routine basis in official publications, for example, in the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) work and in Budget documents.

This letter considers three aspects of publishing enhanced regional economic statistics:

• The building blocks for better regional economic statistics.
• The inclusion of statistics on regional economic performance in official documents.
• The publication of forecasts at the regional level.

Building blocks for improved regional economic statistics The table below sets out developments in economic statistics that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) should focus on, and which form the steps on the path to significantly improving regional economic forecasts.

Economic StatisticsDevelopments required
Regional Economic Accounts and
Supply and Use tables
Regional supply and use tables enable a rich and
detailed picture to be created of all the goods and
services produced or imported in an area and their
ultimate use. These are the building blocks for the
modelling of the economic effects of various
interventions or other changes in supply and demand.
These already exist in Scotland and Northern Ireland
but there are none currently for Wales and the English
regions.
Regional GDP (Expenditure
approach)
GDP can be calculated by adding together consumer
spending, current government spending, private and
public investment, and net trade (the value of exports
minus imports).
These components are widely used for forecasting and
modelling the economy. There are currently no regional
estimates of the expenditure measure of GDP, except
in Scotland where they have just been introduced
Inter-regional trade flow statisticsThere is a need for greater detail on import and exports
of goods and services. Inter-regional flows, trade and
value added and supply chains within and between the
2
regions and ports. There would be a need for those
who wish to use such statistics to access micro-data.
Nowcasts of regional GDPIn time, the ONS plan to feed data from its new
quarterly regional GDP measure into the nowcast
regional GDP model, to improve accuracy. This could
provide “flash” estimates at a regional level.

These developments would act as a set of pre-conditions for creating enhanced measures of regional economic performance, and for the publication of regional economic forecasts. All these developments will be enabled by better access to administrative data, where the ONS can provide enhanced (ideally flexible) geographies with more use of direct estimation.

Inclusion of statistics on regional economic performance in official publications HM Treasury does not currently include much by way of regional economic breakdowns in their budget report, either to describe recent economic performance or for forecasts. Regional performance information published by the UK Government can be found in some departmental annual reports and accounts but is not summarised in any compendium.

Given the growing interest in regional disparities in economic performance, the lack of focus in official documents is surprising. It would be relatively easy to address this absence using statistics already published by the ONS, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. With the developments undertaken by the ONS outlined in the table above, it could be done at increasing levels of granularity.

Publication of forecasts at the regional level

In addition to more routine inclusion of statistics on regional economic performance in official publications, there might be considerable public good served by publishing some regional
economic forecasts. However, there are several important conditions before this could be adopted as a regular part of information provided to help people make judgements about the UK
and regional economy.

• Firstly, the improvements set out in the table above would enable more granular forecasts to be made. In the absence of these statistics as input data, forecasters may struggle to develop models with sufficient granularity. The more that regional economic forecasts take account of official data the more likely that the forecast error will remain within tolerable limits.
• Secondly, even with those improvements, the extent and nature of user demand would need to be established, including the extent to which forecast errors would be acceptable to users. This can only be ascertained through user testing.
• Furthermore, providing data to inform regional forecasts is already taking place in parts of the UK, in part prompted by devolution. Any developments of forecasts at a sub-UK level should take into account the data already available for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
• It would be important to communicate the uncertainties associated with any regional GVA forecasts. For example, there are deficiencies in historical GVA data. Forecasts will only be as good as the data they rely on.
• Users told the Committee that for regional economic forecasts to be useful they would need to be produced sub-regionally in ways that can provide consistent analysis at multiple geographies, e.g. LEP boundary. Forecasters would be likely to use sub-regional indicators to allocate national totals, an approach that is unlikely to be reliable for small geographical areas.
• Producing adequate data at NUTS2 and finer degrees of disaggregation would require much greater exploitation of administrative data than present. Although this is challenging, it is possible and is a matter of resources and priorities, once over some access hurdles. Moreover, it is often the case that the source data for businesses operating across multiple regions is not broken down appropriately, so even then there would be gaps.

Finally, in line with the emphasis on trustworthiness and quality at the heart of our work at the Office for Statistics Regulation, we would strongly advocate the adoption of rigorous governance
and publication policies for regional forecasts. These policies would include having arrangements for planned, orderly publication of the forecasts; clarity on strengths and limitations of the forecast; and appropriate explanation of the assumptions adopted in ways that are accessible and clear to guide interpretation and use.

I would be very happy to discuss these issues further with the Committee.

Yours sincerely,
Ed Humpherson
Director General for Regulation

 

 

 

Related Links:

 

Office for National Statistics and Office for Statistics Regulation oral evidence to the Treasury Committee’s inquiry on regional imbalances in the UK economy

On Wednesday 30 October 2019 Darren Morgan, Director of Economic Statistics Development, Office for National Statistics; Rob Kent-Smith, Deputy Director of National Accounts Coordination, Office for National Statistics; Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation, UK Statistics Authority gave oral evidence to the Treasury Committee as part of their inquiry: Regional imbalances in the UK economy.

A transcript of which has been published on the UK Parliament’s website.

 

 

Related Links:

Office for Statistics Regulation written evidence to the International Trade Committee’s inquiry on UK investment policy

Dear Mr MacNeil,

I write regarding the International Trade Committee’s report on UK Investment Policy released on 30 July 2019. I noted within this report that the Committee has recommended the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Department for International Trade (DIT) provide better Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) data.

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) provides independent regulation of all statistics produced by the UK Government, Devolved Nations and by all related public bodies. The OSR is the independent regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority, which was established by the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 (the SRSA).

The OSR sets the standards producers of official statistics must meet through the statutory Code of Practice for Statistics. We assess compliance with this Code, and where the Code is met in full, the Authority designates the statistics as ‘National Statistics’. We also report publicly on systemwide issues, and on the way in which people are using statistics, celebrating when people uphold the standards and challenging publicly when they are not. There are three foundational pillars of the Code, referred to as TQV:

• Trustworthiness: trusted people, systems and processes.
• Quality: robust data, method and statistics.
• Value: statistics that serve the public good.

Given our independence, I thought that the Committee might benefit from hearing from OSR regarding our work to improve FDI official statistics, as well as the coherence between ONS and DIT investment statistics.

Last year, we conducted a check of compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics of the ONS’s FDI statistics. The range of data and statistics on FDI and Inward Investment is complex. Given the different metrics and the complexity, OSR is very supportive of the joint work that the ONS and DIT are conducting to shed more light onto the latest developments at a granular level in respect to FDI, and expressed this view in our letter to Jonathan Athow on 18 December 2018. We see the results of such collaboration as going much further to answer users’ queries. We commend DIT for publishing its Inward Investment as Official Statistics for the first time in 2017, with the ongoing obligation to meet quality standards and users’ needs.

The Code of Practice for Statistics expects ministerial and press statements to meet basic professional standards of statistical presentation, including accuracy, clarity and impartiality. We suggested to DIT that the communications professionals responsible for press releases might benefit from ongoing advice from their Head of Profession for Statistics on what the Code of Practice for Statistics expects regarding statements drawing on statistical releases.

DIT ministers and communications professionals should always take the advice of professional statisticians about the presentation of statistics*. Both DIT and ONS statisticians are working with their respective communications teams on the contents of ministerial and press statements. DIT and ONS communications teams have sensible sign off processes for ministerial and press statements. We are also aware that ONS’s senior statistician responsible for FDI is taking up a position in DIT responsible for enhancing its Inward Investment statistics, which will assist greatly in collaboration between the two FDI statistics producers. We support the work of the Government Communications Service’s leadership to improve trust in public statements and recommend that DIT works with this initiative.

As part of our ongoing monitoring of official and National Statistics we intend to actively monitor the joint work that the ONS and DIT are conducting, and the implementation of the plans of both
departments to transform FDI statistics by providing robust FDI data at a granular level. We intend to publish our view of the progress with these plans next year.

If you and the Committee would find further discussion useful, I would be happy to meet.

Yours sincerely,
Ed Humpherson
Director General for Regulation

 

*The Code of Practice for Statistics under the Trustworthiness pillar, principle 8 Orderly Release, practice 8 states that press statements referring to regular or ad hoc official statistics should meet basic professional standards of statistical presentation, including accuracy, clarity and impartiality. The lead statistician or analyst should advise on the appropriate use of the statistics within these statements.

 

Related Links:

Office for National Statistics oral evidence to the International Trade Committee as part of their inquiry into UK investment policy. (January 2019)
Office for National Statistics written evidence to the International Trade Committee as part of their inquiry into UK investment policy. (September 2019)