Underlying plans for our portfolio, people, technology, data and funding

The delivery of the Strategic Business Plan, Strategic Objectives and Directorate Accountability Framework Objectives is supported by various underlying business area, ‘profession’ and ‘functional plans’. The key plans are explained briefly below.


The ONS portfolio plan sets out the projects and programmes that directly impact on delivery of the Strategic Business Plan, require cross-organisational coordination and link to our change and transformational aspects of our plan that require programme management discipline.

The plan is reviewed and updated regularly and at the time of writing contained five programmes with associated milestones and delivery plans.


In June 2020 we launched our People Plan to support our new strategy, Statistics for the Public Good. The People Plan defined clearly the people activities needed to attract, develop, retain, support, and reward our people so together we successfully deliver our strategic objectives. Our people plan is available here (link).

The People Plan has been successful and we have made considerable advancements across all areas of work, notably on Inclusion and Diversity including: the introduction of new diversity dashboards and targets which are already yielding results; adjustments across our workplace and IT to make us more inclusive; a new approach to SCS performance management to bolster our leadership; and developing hybrid working principles and associated workplaces that make us more flexible.

The success in this space has been recognised externally through a number of awards received including: two Glassdoor awards; National Statistician, Sir Ian Diamond being voted as one of the top CEOs; and ONS being ranked the top employer in the UK for work-life balance in 2021; achieving Gold MIND status; being ranked in the top 30 in the Working Families Index and renewed Disability Confidence Leader status.

To reflect the huge changes in our ways of working and the progress made over the last 18 months delivering the People Plan, we are undertaking a refresh. We will use a streamlined People Plan to focus the efforts of everyone in the UKSA on the three priority areas required to support delivery of the Strategy: Strategic Resourcing, Inclusion and Diversity, and Skills (with a particular focus on leading and managing through change).

Annex D provides a breakdown of ONS’s workforce by Profession, Grade and Location.

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The ONS Technology Plan forms part of this Strategic Business Plan and defines the direction for our technology and the linkages between our strategic programmes and ongoing plans for the development of our technology estate. A copy of the Technology Plan is available here (link).

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The ONS Data Plan forms part of this Strategic Business Plan and defines the direction for our management of data and approach to ensuring its safe usage. The current Data Plan is available here (link).

The Plan covers:

  • Leading on the data pipeline (acquisition and engineering) that will enable the transformation of our population and migration statistics, feeding into the 2023 recommendations on the future of Census
  • Leading on the development of an automated, cloud-native pipeline for price data to support the transformation of inflation statistics and complete the acquisition of price scanner data from commercial suppliers
  • Developing new integrated data assets to support key policy agendas of HMT, including levelling up and net zero
  • Automating the internal ONS pipeline, to achieve efficiencies and support more streamlined access to administrative data for ONS, IDS and SRS users.
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The table below sets out our funding settlement as agreed through the Spending Review 2021 (SR21). The settlement provides us with two critical certainties – funding at a level to enable us to progress our stated strategic aims; and longevity of funding across a three-year time horizon.

Census and Data Collection Transformation Programme3918000039180
Integrated Data Service Programme56.859.
Ambitious Radical Inclusive Economic Statistics Programme, including Labour Market Statistics21.218.616.60.81.112219.717.7
Property Costs3.43.43.40003.43.43.4
Official Development Assistance3.64.24.80003.64.24.8

Please note:
Within Government Finance, organisations manage their funding within Departmental Expenditure Limits (DEL), spending control totals set by HMT for resource and capital expenditure.

  • RDEL – Resource Departmental Expenditure Limit set to control expenditure on day to day resources and operational costs.
  • CDEL – Capital Departmental Expenditure Limit set to control expenditure used to acquire, upgrade, and maintain physical assets such as property, plant, buildings, technology, equipment and Research and Development expenditure that complies with ESA10 criteria.

The funding settlement provides:

  • Stable ongoing baseline funding, with the freedom to recycle the efficiencies that we deliver to support prioritised investment in the future of the organisation.
  • Ongoing funding to the end of the current Census and Data Collection Transformation Programme (CDCTP) lifecycle. This funding will support the Census 21 outputs, the delivery of a new system of population and migration statistics and ongoing social and business survey transformation. We will make the case later in the year for the use of prior year programme under expenditure in 2022/23 but given the uncertainty at this time we have not included this value in the above funding table.
  • Funding for the Integrated Data Service Programme (IDSP) lifecycle. This is a significant new funding stream to support the development of the technology platform, supporting governance and dissemination of data and analysis, which are the key aspects of the programme.
  • Further new funding for the Ambitious Radical Inclusive Economic Statistics Programme (ARIES) and Labour Market Survey/Labour Force Survey Dual Run. HM Treasury have provided funding for core aspects of the programme – jobs and skills, public sector, real time data and systems development – with full scope to be baselined and revised through iterations of the ARIES business case across the SR period.
  • New and unforeseen property costs will be funded to support the transition of our Newport, Titchfield and Christchurch sites to ownership by the Government Property Agency and to support our new Darlington Economic Campus.
  • An additional contribution has been made centrally to cover the envisaged inflationary and National Insurance cost pressures that we will face primarily in 2022/23. To maximise the benefit of this additional funding we have asked that business areas absorb the increased inflationary pressures. We will in turn re-invest the funding received here back into key priorities. The absorption of inflation will be a key element of our efficiency delivery plans.
  • Ring-fenced funding in support of our Official Development Assistance work has been provided at an increasing scale across the SR21 period. This funding will support our ongoing work in international, technical co-operation and development.

Whilst the position in terms of funding for the ongoing operation of the COVID-19 Infection Survey (CIS) was not addressed through our SR bid process we have received a funding commitment from the Department for Health and Social Care/UK Health Security Agency for the continuation of the survey of £268m in 2022/23. Funding for the survey will be at a significantly lower level than in 2021/22. Given the nature of this funding – the vast majority of it covers third party costs incurred with a small proportion covering internal ONS costs – we have not included figures in the table above.

We have also reached agreement for funding of £9m per annum to support the development of sub-national statistics with the Department for Levelling-Up Housing and Communities; and £2m per year to develop the crime survey with the Home Office.[1]

Our income projections have also not been included in the above table in order to provide a clear picture of net funding availability. We estimate that we will generate circa £26-30m of external income per annum through the SR period (excluding CIS income). This income will be used to offset both the marginal costs of generating the income and to provide a contribution to the wider operational costs of the organisation. This contribution in essence reduces our reliance on funding from other sources but remains a minor element of our overall funding.

The SR settlement as stated provides us with funding certainty until 2024/25. A significant proportion of our funding is programme based and this will mean that we will, over the next three years need to produce, in line with Treasury timetables,  programme business cases in order to attain ongoing approval for the funding associated with them. This is important not least because programme funding also contributes to the wider organisational operating costs.

Through the course of SR21 we will produce a further business case in support of the future direction of the Census, we will capture the impact of this case, and any other cases that we develop, in later revisions of this business plan.

[1] The DHLUC Funding was confirmed in April so the operational plan for delivery will be included in further iterations of this plan.

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Efficiencies Framework

As part of our Spending Review negotiations, we have committed to deliver at least 10% or £21m of sustainable cost savings against our baseline resource expenditure by the final year of the SR (2024/25). In negotiation with HM Treasury, we have retained the ability to re-invest the savings generated, back into our core organisational priorities. It is therefore incumbent on us to maximise all possible efficiencies as we in effect are the key beneficiaries of these cost savings.

We have developed an Efficiency Framework which will aid us in monitoring, challenging and managing our efficiency plans across the SR period. To date we have identified plans which will deliver circa £16m of sustained cost savings by 2024/25. In terms of re-investment there are two key aspects to highlight:

  • Project driven efficiencies – these contribute to our £21m target and relate to specific organisational initiatives that will, as part of their benefits delivery, realise sustainable reductions in our baseline expenditure. The delivery projects will impact specific budgets in specific parts of the organisation;
  • Inflation absorption – in order to maximise our resources, we have re-channelled the inflation-based increase in our overall budget and re-invested this value in priority areas. All business areas have been tasked with absorbing inflation from within their flat-lined baseline budgets.

Over the coming months we will continue to work to maximise our efficiency plans to free up as much resource as possible for re-investment whilst at the same time reducing our baseline costs in preparation for the next Spending Review.

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Functional Plans

The National Statistician leads the Analysis Function which supports a 17,000 strong community of analysts. The work of the Analysis Function is overseen by the Analysis Function Board (AFB) and the Departmental Directors of Analysis (DDANs), who represent Departments and our wider stakeholders. An Analysis Function People Board subcommittee has also been established in recent years to further strengthen the delivery of people specific priorities.

This governance structure ensures the Function addresses cross-cutting challenges, drawing on the strengths of the analytical professions, and ensures a consistent approach to delivering expert analytical advice across government.

The Analysis Function also plays a key role in delivering the Cabinet Office’s and Ministers’ civil service reform agenda. Over the next three years, the ONS plan for the Analysis Function will support integrated, informed decision-making and efficient service delivery by putting world class analysis in the hands of decision makers. A Functional approach is needed for analysis to pool knowledge, skills and techniques and to ensure that government analysts apply common standards and approaches when this is the right thing to do.

In addition to the Analysis Function, the ONS fully aligns to the government functional plans as per the Dear Accounting Office (DAO) Letter dated 30/09/2021. The Letter set out requirements for all central government departments and their arm’s length bodies to have a plan in place by March 2022 to comply with each functional standard in a way that meets its business needs and priorities. Use of the standards should be embedded into each organisation’s business plans for 2022-23 onwards. Statements about use of functional standards should be included in annual reports and, where relevant, Accounting Officer system statements. The Functional standards cover areas such as Finance, Project Delivery, Human Resources, Communications, Property, Digital, Data and Technology, Security, Commercial and Internal Audit.

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