Purposes and activity

Statutory framework

The UK Statistics Authority (the Authority) was established under the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 (the Act) and on 1 April 2008 formally assumed its powers. The Authority is an independent statutory body. It operates at arm’s length from government as a non- ministerial department and reports directly to the UK Parliament, the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The work of the Authority is further defined under the secondary legislation made under the Act by the UK Parliament or devolved legislatures.

Statutory objective

The Authority has a statutory objective of promoting and safeguarding the production and publication of official statistics that ‘serve the public good’.

The public good includes:

  • informing the public about social and economic matters
  • assisting in the development and evaluation of public policy
  • regulating quality and publicly challenging the misuse of statistics

Official statistics are for the benefit of society and the economy as a whole; not only in government policy making and the evaluation of government performance, but also informing the direction of economic and commercial activities. Statistics provide valuable data and evidence for analysts, researchers, public and voluntary bodies, enabling the public to hold to account all organisations that spend public money, and informing wider public debate. The Authority wants to see official statistics enabling sound policy, decisions and providing a firm evidence base for decision-making both inside and outside of government.

Statistics for the Public Good

On 16 July 2020, the Authority launched its strategy for the UK official statistics system for the five years 2020 to 2025. The strategy can be found in full on the Authority’s website.

The collective mission of our official statistics system is:

High quality data and analysis to inform the UK, improve lives and build the future.


The Statistics for the Public Good strategy covers the principal elements of the UK official statistics system for which the Authority has oversight. The Authority provides professional oversight of the Government Statistical Service (GSS), and has exclusive responsibility for its two executive arms, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR). The National Statistician also leads the cross government Analysis Function.

The Government Statistical Service (GSS)

The GSS is a UK network, spread across a whole range of public bodies, including the devolved administrations and UK government departments which produces and analyses statistics. It includes professional statisticians, data scientists, geographers, researchers, economists, analysts, operational delivery staff, IT specialists and other supporting roles. The GSS is also a part of the cross government Analysis Function, which has built a community of analysts of various professional backgrounds working to provide the evidence base for understanding the biggest challenges of the day. Both the Analysis Function and the GSS are also led by the National Statistician.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS)

The ONS is the Authority’s statistical production function and is part of the GSS. Led by the National Statistician, the ONS is the UK’s internationally recognised National Statistical Institute and largest producer of official statistics. The ONS produces data, statistics and analysis on a range of key economic, social and demographic topics.

Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR)

The OSR is the Authority’s independent statutory regulator. Led by the Director General for Regulation, OSR ensures that statistics are produced and disseminated in the public good and aims to increase public confidence in the trustworthiness, quality and value of statistics produced by governments. OSR also reports 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.

The legislation which established the UK Statistics Authority requires strict separation of the functions of production and regulation, where those involved in the production of statistics are not involved in the assessment of statistics against the code. The Director General for Regulation reports directly to the Chair of the Authority and produces a separate annual performance report. More detail about OSR, including its approach, its governance and an assessment of its effectiveness is set out in the Annex to this document.

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The UKSA strategy

The UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) strategy – Statistics for the Public Good – sets the direction for the UK official statistics system for the next five years with its overarching mission to deliver:

High quality data and analysis to inform the UK, improve lives and build for the future

The strategy describes four strategic drivers that underpin the mission statement – UKSA must be:

  • Radical in taking opportunities to innovate and collaborate, using data for the public good
  • Ambitious in setting out to answer the critical research questions the public needs the Government to answer, and informing the decisions that citizens, businesses and civil society take
  • Inclusive in its approach to workforce, talent management, and the design of data, statistics and analysis
  • Sustainable in delivering a unique service in a way which delivers value for money with lasting benefits and minimises impact on the environment, all through partnership and collaboration

The UKSA strategy is supported by business plans produced by each constituent part of the statistical system.

The ONS strategic business plan

The ONS strategic business plan, originally published alongside the UKSA strategy in July 2020, and subsequently updated in 2021 sets out how ONS will contribute towards delivery of the UKSA strategy, including in response to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and delivering against priorities such as net-zero, levelling up economic opportunity across the country, social mobility, and an ageing population.

The Strategic Business Plan sets out how the ONS will deliver in line with the four strategic drivers – Radical, Ambitious, Sustainable and Inclusive as set out in the UKSA strategy – working in partnership with the GSS, data providers and the analytical and research community.

The plan also sets out the structure through which we deliver against our commitments. it details eight strategic objectives – each owned by a member of the ONS senior leadership team This is further supported by delivery Tiers made up of our Accountability Framework Objectives (AFOs) – and five transformation programmes:

  • Census and Data Collection Transformation Programme (CDCTP)
  • Integrated Data Services Programme (IDSP)
  • Covid19 Infection Survey (CIS)
  • Ambitious, Radical and Inclusive Economic Statistics (ARIES)
  • Corporate Services Improvement Programme (CSIP)

Figure 1 below provides a visual representation of the structure showing the alignment from the Strategic Drivers through to the delivery mechanisms and supporting plans

Figure 1: ONS strategic business plan taxonomy

Strategic DriversRadicalAmbitiousInclusiveSustainable
Strategic ObjectivesSO1
Priority analysis
Statistica quality
Accessible outputs
Future tools
Integrated data
Census outputs
One ONS culture
Sustainable business model
DeliveryDirectorate accountability framework objectives
Level 1s and level 2s


CDCTP – Census and Data Collection Transformation Programme

ARIES – Ambitious Radical Inclusive Economic Statistics

IDSP – Integrated Data Services Programme

CIS – COVID-19 Infection Survey

CSIP – Corporate Systems Improvement Programme

The OSR business plan

The OSR also published its business plan in May 2021. This set out the independent role, governance, vision, mission and core objectives for OSR. Performance against this business plan for 2021/22 is set out in the Annex to this document.

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Performance analysis

We have continued to make significant progress during Financial Year 2021/22 – the second year of our strategy. We have delivered a wide range of achievements as set out in more detail below.

As with all government departments we have worked with HM Treasury colleagues through the Comprehensive Spending Review 2021 (SR21) exercise which aimed to settle departmental budgets for the period 2022/23 to 2024/25.

This exercise has been vitally important in securing ongoing support, placing the organisation on a sustainable footing and facilitating the delivery of our strategy for the next three financial years. As the year has progressed, we have ensured that our work in supporting the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic continued but on a more sustainable basis whilst pivoting to address broader economic and societal questions. We completed the data gathering phase of Census 2021 with a higher than anticipated response rate and world leading level of digital responses. This is a major achievement particularly in the context of the ongoing pandemic. We have now exited the significant third-party contracts and delivery mechanisms associated with the data collection exercise and have moved to the next phases of the programme including data analysis and dissemination.

The following sections of the report provide an overall summary assessment of performance against our strategic objectives and key milestones for 2021/22 as set out in the latest iteration of our Strategic Business Plan. We also provide a more detailed narrative highlighting the key achievements in the period by strategic objective on pages 24 to 33.

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Summary assessment of performance by strategic objective

The strategic objectives (SOs) were developed as part of the ONS’s initial strategic business plan that was published in July 2020 and have been iterated, and rationalised, to maintain relevance to current and expected future operational context, and to support clarity of accountability. Each SO contributes to all four strategic drivers, with the strongest association shown in more detail below.

Performance against the SOs is monitored monthly through internal governance using the mapping of individual AFOs to each SO[5] as a mechanism to track progress and flag issues. The table below provides an assessment of the status of each of the eight SOs in March 2022. The green rating indicates that more than 70% of the AFOs that align to that SO were reporting either “complete” or “on track” at the time of reporting.

This end of year position is an upward trend when compared to 2020/21.

[5] Each AFO is mapped to one or more SOs depending on the contribution the AFO makes towards delivery of the SO. By tracking progress of the AFO we are able to extrapolate the performance against the SO.

Priority deliverables: ARIES, Covid Infection Survey
Main strategic contribution: Radical
2021/22 rating: Green
Working with new and existing partnerships to deliver inclusive, engaging and timely analysis and statistics on priority economic, social and environmental issues including on the impacts of the pandemic and the lives of those missing from our existing data sources.

Priority deliverables: Delivery of IDSP data services
Main strategic contribution: Radical
2021/22 rating: Green
In collaboration with the GSS, Government Analysis Function and wider government, deliver a ground breaking, safe, secure and trusted≈integrated data service with associated data governance that drives the integration of Government data and the provision of crosscutting analysis for the public good, and facilitates the evaluation of policy effectiveness.

Priority deliverables: IDSP platform, Prioritised legacy replacement
Main strategic contribution: Sustainable
2021/22 rating: Green
To develop and future-proof the ONS’s statistical, analytical and data management tools, technologies and policies to meet the changing requirements of the business, at pace and with innovation to the fore.

Priority deliverables: Labour market transformation, Prices transformation, GDP, Crime, Inclusive data task force
Main strategic contribution: Ambitious
2021/22 rating: Green
Drive improvements in the inclusiveness, quality, coherence, accessibility and timeliness of our priority statistics and outputs and set best practice for the development of UK statistical frameworks.

Priority deliverables: Census outputs, Transformation of population and migration statistics, to support 2023 Recommendation
Main strategic contribution: Ambitious
2021/22 rating: Green
To deliver outputs from the 2021 Census and a revised system of population and migration statistics, working towards a robust recommendation on the future of the Census in 2023.

Priority deliverables: Efficiencies framework
Main strategic contribution: Sustainable
2021/22 rating: Green
To implement a sustainable and ambitious business model that enables ONS to deliver against the ambitions in the UKSA strategy using resources (people, funding & infrastructure) effectively and efficiently, while continuously improving ONS’s corporate services and systems so they are fit for the future.

Priority deliverables: IDSP dissemination capacity
Main strategic contribution: Inclusive
2021/22 rating: Green
To deliver an efficient, targeted, accessible, inclusive and flexible publication and two-way engagement model that promotes understanding, provides information that our key stakeholders and the wider UK need, and informs organisational delivery.

Priority deliverables: People plan
Main strategic contribution: Inclusive
2021/22 rating: Green
To create an inclusive, collaborative, engaged and healthy working environment and a ‘One ONS’ culture where employees of different backgrounds, grades, characteristics and ways of thinking are consistently empowered and inspired to innovate, share learning and deliver their best work.

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Key deliverables

Our Strategic Business Plan also set out a high-level timeline of key deliverables. The table below gives the milestones for the 2021/22 financial year and their status at March 2022.

May 2021

  • Milestone – Develop unified corporate systems innovation strategy and development prioritised roadmap
  • Programme/Directorate – Corporate Services Improvement Programme
  • Status – Completed – November 2021

June 2021

  • Milestone – Launch a multi-disciplinary analytical hub to respond with pace and flexibility to the priorities of our partners and stakeholders in Government and Beyond
  • Programme/Directorate – Public Policy Analysis
  • Status – Completed – June 2021

September 2021

  • Milestone – Integrated Data Service for Government Consumers (Private Beta)
  • Programme/Directorate –Integrated Data Programme
  • Status – Completed – October 2021

September 2021

  • Milestone – Changes to meet international legislative requirements for Gross National Income implemented
  • Programme/Directorate – Ambitious, Radical and Inclusive Economic Statistics Programme
  • Status – Completed – September 2021

September 2021

  • Milestone – Publish the recommendations of the Inclusive Data Taskforce
  • Programme/Directorate – Public Policy Analysis
  • Status – Completed – February 2022

October 2021

  • Milestone – Trade improvements implemented in ANA 2021
  • Programme/Directorate –Ambitious, Radical and Inclusive Economic Statistics Programme
  • Status – Completed – October 2021

October 2021

  • Milestone – GDP estimates using double deflation integrated in National Accounts
  • Programme/Directorate –Ambitious, Radical and Inclusive Economic Statistics Programme
  • Status – Completed – September 2021

December 2021

  • Milestone – Expand the multi-disciplinary cross ONS analytical hub to 60 FTE
  • Programme/Directorate – Public Policy Analysis
  • Status – Completed – December 2021

February 2022

  • Milestone – All code of practice requirements met to enable National Statistics Accreditation of 2021 Census Outputs
  • Programme/Directorate – Census and Data Collection Transformation Programme
  • Status –Re-baselined to June 2022

March 2022

  • Milestone – All required census data processing and statistical quality assurance tasks completed to enable the recommendation to National Statistician to proceed with publication of initial findings
  • Programme/Directorate – Census and Data Collection Transformation Programme
  • Status –Re-baselined to June 2022

March 2022

  • Milestone – Integrated Data Service for Accredited (NonGov) Consumers (Initial Operating Capability
    – Public Beta)
  • Programme/Directorate – Integrated Data Programme
  • Status –Re-baselined to June 2022

March 2022

  • Milestone – Outputs of Census 2021 – first release of the high-level population estimates
  • Programme/Directorate – Census and Data Collection Transformation Programme
  • Status –Re-baselined to June 2022
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Overall performance narrative by strategic objective

Radical – Cross cutting analysis and integrated data

Strategic Objective 1 – Priority analysis

A key strategic objective which is intrinsically linked to our mission as an organisation is to provide time-critical analysis and statistics on priority economic, social and environmental issues. We have developed our capacity to respond at pace, using our relationships across government and with other partners to provide the data and analysis needed to aid decision makers – whatever the question. Key to the achievement of this objective is the need to develop and maintain the necessary structures, capability and capacity to deliver.

Significant steps have been made during the year to enable this including the establishment and growth of our Analytical Hub. The Hub works in tandem with established capability in our Data Science Campus and across our business areas to aid in our response to urgent priorities.

During the year we have been able to respond quickly to provide data and insights across a range of socio-economic themes including:

  • supply chain disruption, publishing analysis on HGV drivers and providing the Cabinet Office with the latest data and information impacts on availability of essential goods to inform decisions
  • developing an evidence pack that synthesises cross government data on violence against women and girls
  • working closely with the Office for Veteran Affairs to improve veteran suicide statistics, data collection and analysis
  • publishing the GSS subnational data strategy

Given the ongoing prevalence of COVID-19 through 2021/22 much of our focus remains on critical pandemic related analysis. We have continued to deliver “gold standard evidence” in the form of the COVID-19 Infection Survey (CIS) that continues to inform the government response to the pandemic including significant regional variations. The scope and nature of the evidence produced through CIS has flexed in response to need, including the publication of two estimates a week during the emergence of the Omicron variant in December 2021 and January 2022. We have worked with colleagues across government to ensure that we can place the survey on a more sustainable financial footing through 2022/23 in light of constrained funding availability.

We have tailored our analysis using associated data on behavioural responses, workforce absences and impact on household finances and living standards to deliver a rounded view on the impacts of the pandemic on society. The second phase of the School Infection Survey was delivered within school settings with the final round of testing involving the recruitment of 173 schools and just over 12,500 pupils for Antibody Testing and questionnaire completion.

Four publications have been released on data collected during the first two testing rounds, including questionnaire data on Long Covid and Mental Health, data on antibodies collected in the early part of the study and vaccination data linked to other data sets. We have used new data and methods to incorporate the Test, Trace and Vaccinations Programme into measures of healthcare output in the National Accounts, and stood up an Over 50s lifestyle survey in just 11 days after cross government collaboration to design, test and launch the survey of 20,000 workless 50-70 year olds.

We cannot operate in isolation and many of the achievements made to date rely on us working with partners across government and beyond. To that end and directly aligned to our strategy we have expanded our collaborative partnerships including the launch of a strategic partnership with the Alan Turing Institute and continued our long-standing relationships through our Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence (ESCOE). We have expanded our internal Policy Liaison Unit to build wider relationships across government policy makers to better reflect the data needs to help drive decision making. We have also worked closely with other government departments on joint initiatives including the Department for Education on their Unit for Future Skills.

Strategic Objective 2 – Integrated data

ONS have been leading the drive to provide faster and wider collaborative analysis of complex data for the public good through delivery of the Integrated Data Programme (IDP). Led by ONS, this programme is a collaborative initiative with the GSS, Government Analysis Function and wider Government, and will build a comprehensive data service, underpinned by a secure and trusted infrastructure that will enable Government to make best use of its data assets and unlock the potential of linked data. The IDP will accelerate our progress in data sharing and analysis and provide a model that is fit for purpose to tackle the Government priorities now and in the future; one of the key ambitions of the national data strategy.

The successful delivery of the Alpha build of the Integrated Data Service in July 2021 was quickly followed by the launch of an Initial Private Beta in October 2021 which was accessible to analysts across Government, with pilot projects used to test and demonstrate new capabilities such as data virtualisation.

The Secure Research Service was integrated into the Programme and enabled early progress of Analytical Lighthouse Projects, including:

  • the “towns and high streets” project – a collaboration with Ordnance Survey to digitally identify the high streets of Great Britain for the first time and provide new data and analysis to inform local policy-making
  • the “COVID-19 risk factors for death and hospitalisation” created a unique, linked data resource that combined Census, healthcare and death registration data and enabled fast production of essential insights into health inequalities to inform government priorities

The Dissemination component of the service was successfully used to host climate change data ( in support of COP 26. Alongside these successes, the programme has begun its transition into full
service and in early 2022, appointing the chosen vendor to deliver the next phase of the cloud technology services, and agreed a set of design principles for the services web presence that will provide a “front of house” capability for users.
This capability will form a New Private Beta release, to be followed by further releases during 2022.

Ambitious – Inclusive, quality, coherence, accessibility and timeliness of our core statistics

Strategic Objective 4 – Statistical quality

Delivering high quality and timely statistics sits at the heart of what we do. To support our relentless drive for improved quality and granularity of our statistics, we initiated the new Ambitious, Radical, Inclusive Economic Statistics programme which has now received support from HM-Treasury for the current Spending Review period, enabling us to continue our 10-year transformation journey. The programme has delivered significant improvements to the core national accounts, trade and investment and the faster indicators suite, including full implementation of double deflation (international best practice) into Gross National Product. Experimental model-based estimates of regional GDP have improved regional economic data and made economic growth changes available five months earlier.

Our drive for innovation is reflected with new publications including: new data and methods to incorporate the Test, Trace and Vaccinations programmes into measures of healthcare output in the National Accounts (in collaboration with DHSC, the NHS, BEIS and HMT); several topical articles which have informed the discussion around the economic impact of COVID-19 and the recovery period; new experimental subnational Foreign direct investment statistics; and the launch of a new collaboration with the Office for Veteran Affairs to improve veteran suicide statistics, data collection and analysis.

We have continued to develop our international presence with the establishment of a new National Statistician’s Committee for Advice on Standards for Economic Statistics (NSCASE) to provide statistical governance outside the European framework, and we published the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) annual report, making good progress on reporting indicators, closing challenging data gaps, doubling the amount of headline data reported and increased disaggregation.

Within the Data Science Campus, we delivered a series of Masterclasses for Senior Leaders to Ministers and Permanent Secretaries with 11 Permanent Secretaries and 1,175 civil service senior leaders enrolled (as at July 2021) strengthening data literacy across leaders, launched the cross government Data Science Graduate Programme, and developed real time indicators at the local level from CCTV traffic camera images which was awarded the Geography in Government overall and innovation awards. These regularly published statistics are the first to be produced from machine learning techniques applied to image data.

Through our strategy we aim to embed inclusivity as a concept across everything that we do, including the data we use and statistics we publish. Linked inherently to the “inclusive” driver as well as quality of our outputs, findings from the Inclusive Data Taskforce consultation, were published and provide far reaching, strategic recommendations for creating a step change in the availability of data and analysis on inclusivity in UK society. A detailed implementation plan responding to the 46 specific recommendations was also published to drive forward this work across the statistical system.

Strategic Objective 5 – Census outputs

Census 21 was the first Census where completion was primarily through an electronic questionnaire, allowing the public to complete the survey online at a scale never before seen. Return rates at the end of census collection phase surpassed 97% of households with 88.9% of responses made electronically, and more than 90% in every local authority across England and Wales. This response exceeded expectations in the most difficult of circumstances during a national lockdown, and the work to process the data and turn it into quality outputs is now underway. In the same year, we successfully transferred the 1921 Census to the National Archives as part of our statutory duties.

While we continue to work towards the first release of Census outputs in June 2022, we are building towards the 2023 Recommendation on the future of the Census, and published new research and data on population and migration to demonstrate the use of administrative data-based ways of measuring migration and population that will help to build the most accurate picture of our society.

Our achievements across both the Radical and Ambitious strategic principles with rapid development of new statistics and analysis would not have been possible without significant cross-government, cross-GSS and collaborative working involving all four nations of the United Kingdom. Similarly, within the ONS our successes have only been possible due to the joint working of colleagues across the organization. Without the technological platforms, methodologies and architecture, dissemination capabilities and the work of our core functional support staff we would not have been able to make such significant progress against our strategic objectives in the period.

Inclusive – Building inclusivity into everything we do

Strategic Objective 7 – Accessible outputs

Data from the ONS has never been more in demand or achieved such public prominence and scrutiny. Demand for our statistics and data has never been higher as illustrated by the public confidence in statistics (89% of those able to express a view trust the ONS), demand from the press and the extent of usage of our website.

Our commitment to “promote understanding and provide the information that our key stakeholders, users and the wider UK public need” means getting crucial data and insight into the hands of users easily and quickly to support decision-making.

In support of this aim, we convened, in November 2021, a summit on public engagement with a range of groups working on administrative data use, most notably in health, and have a programme to improve both public engagement and decision making in data use. We also developed the National Statistician’s Expert User Advisory Committee, which met for the first time on 28 March 2021 and discussed the Integrated Data Service, the ONS website, and priorities for transforming access to data and statistics to improve the user experience. We have also embarked on a transformation journey of the ONS web estate and dissemination service, with a review of the ONS web estate, gap analysis and comparison with other institutions, and a user-led consultation now complete.

A demonstration of how our information can be made more accessible was the prototype UK Climate Change Statistics Portal launched ahead of the COP26 UN Climate Change summit in Glasgow and showcased at the summit with the Met Office. The portal provided a dashboard of indicators, three ‘explainer’ articles and access to detailed data. We also completed a coordinated programme of 10 climate related statistical and analytical outputs around COP26 covering emissions in 2020, energy efficiency of homes, business actions, local authority emissions and woodland cover, low emission vehicles and UK natural capital estimates.

Strategic Objective 8 – One ONS culture

Our pursuit of an inclusive, collaborative, engaged and healthy working environment resulted in the UK Statistics Authority being awarded Gold in Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index 2020-21, demonstrating that we have successfully embedded mental health into policies and practices while demonstrating long term, in-depth commitment to colleagues’ wellbeing. In addition to this accolade, ONS made the Working Families Benchmarking Index top 30 employers for the second successive year reflecting our continued commitment to creating a brilliant workplace for all our colleagues whatever their needs. We were short-listed for various external awards including for the CIPD Wales “Best Diversity and Inclusion” and “Best Resourcing and Talent Management” categories; and as finalists for three Welsh contact centre awards: Best COVID-19 strategy, customer engagement and small in-house team.

Our Locations and Dynamic Workplaces programme has made excellent progress over the year to create a modern and inclusive environment, through policy, training, technology, equipment, automation, resourcing and communication, and has been recognised by the Smarter Working Awards. Our new Flexible Working Framework was launched in November 2021, putting some of the changes implemented during the pandemic on a long-term sustainable basis, and the Evolving the Workplace programme continues to make progress towards updating our offices to better reflect our future ways of working.

The results of the 2021 People Survey show a continuation of the record high levels of staff engagement from 2020, with overall engagement levels well above the Civil Service average and higher than the Civil Service benchmark against six of the nine themes.

Sustainable – Building a sustainable and efficient business model

Strategic Objective 3 – Future tools

Keeping pace with the ever-growing demand for faster, and more granular outputs means ensuring that our statistical, analytical and data management tools, technologies and policies are constantly updated to meet the changing requirements of the business and our users. The importance of our infrastructure was highlighted this year with the Data Access Platform, its data and statistical outputs being designated “nationally critical” within government sector of operations.

A new vision and strategy for all surveys across ONS has been developed within the ONS Survey Strategy which details four pillars: Joined up Data Acquisition; Fully Inclusive by Design; Efficient Sustainable Operation; and Productionised Integrated Capability. Alongside this, we continue to make progress on moving surveys online including moving over 37,000 Annual Business Survey forms to an electronic questionnaire, and we have appointed a supplier to build the Statistical Business Register, moving us away from 20-year old technology and replacing the Inter-Departmental Business Register to provide a much-improved sampling frame for business surveys.

As part of the ARIES programme we have appointed a third-party service provider to design a proof of concept for a new cloud-based solution to the Prices Alternative Data Sources project. By using new sources of alternative data such as web-scraping and scanner data, Consumer Prices Index, including owner occupiers’ housing costs and Consumer Prices Index will be transformed to provide new insight into consumer behaviour.

Our Data Science Campus continues to drive forward innovations, including the development of real-time indicators at the local level from CCTV traffic camera images – work that was awarded the Geography in Government overall and innovation awards, presented by Princess Anne at the Royal Geographical Society. These regularly published statistics are the first to be produced from machine learning techniques applied to image data.

In January 2021 we established a formal review into our corporate enabling functions – Building Ambitious Sustainable Enablers (BASE) – to ensure our supporting functions were in the best shape to support the delivery of Statistics for the Public Good; to ensure our organisation was set up to deliver in a sustainable way; and to ensure that our resources were directed towards the delivery of the ONS’ defined outcomes in its Strategic Business Plan.

During 2021/22 we have delivered on the primary objectives of this review which include the consultation on and establishment of a new organisational model across six core functions. This new model – to be fully implemented in Spring/Summer 2022 – will rationalise and streamline key back-office structures and generate significant benefits including a contribution towards our efficiency targets.

The review has been a critical driver for our refreshed strategic business plan (published in June 2022) setting out an agreed set of statistical and analytical priorities alongside an integrated schedule for programme delivery on the back of a successful Spending Review. This is further underpinned by the Review recommendations to adopt a new Demand Management Framework and a new suite of common objectives that have been developed and rolled out across the ONS Senior Civil Service covering Delivery, Finance, Risk, Collaboration and Inclusive Leadership.

In order to maximise the use of resources we established a framework mechanism and governance structure in year to identify, assure, monitor and track efficiency delivery across the Spending Review 2021 (SR21) timeline. This centralised mechanism works with defined efficiency project owners to maximise sustainable cost savings throughout the organisation.

Our aim is to achieve 10% sustained efficiency by the end of 2024/25 against our baseline operating costs of around £220m. The cost savings will be realised incrementally and used by the organisation to progress organisational priorities and inherent cost pressures not funded through SR21. The savings will be generated through structural alignment and rationalisation in our core and support services; through refined approaches in our commercial strategy; through more cost-effective use of our estate; and through process re-engineering and automation. Whilst the cost savings will begin to crystalise from April 2022 onwards a significant amount of preparatory work has been required in this period to give us the best chance of success.

One of our strategic programmes which is linked to both the objectives of the BASE Review and the Efficiency Framework is the Corporate Systems Improvement Programme (CSIP). It aims through reviewing the relationship
between corporate data, processes and technology to implement modern, standardised and future-proof corporate systems and process infrastructure to support the delivery of efficient operations across the whole of corporate services. This is a multi-year programme but has delivered further incremental benefits and enhancements during 2021/22. These include the development of a pilot work force planning solution; implementation of a cloud-based data archiving solution; process reviews across our commercial, finance and human resources functions; and prototype solutions to feed a roadmap of priority projects aimed at more cost effective and enhanced corporate services.

Sustainability at an organisational level is not just about ensuring we live within our means. It is also about ensuring we have the resources, capabilities and facilities to enable delivery. During 2021/22 we have actively participated in the wider rationalisation of government estate exercises. We have transferred our sites at Newport and Titchfield to the Government Property Agency (GPA) and served notice on our London building tenancy in order to move to aid in the consolidation of government estate in London. Through our Locations and Dynamic Workplaces programme we have invested in our estate to enable an overall reduction in our ‘footprint’ by 2024/25 leading to cost savings as we hand back parts of our building for re-use by GPA. We have established the new Darlington Economic Campus, in order to have a presence in the North East of England, aligning to the Levelling Up and Northern Powerhouse agendas.

By continuing to work on our offering as an organisation; our cultural evolution through the ‘One ONS’ concept; together with a longer term recognition of hybrid working and a strategy to continually review our locations; we aim to attract and maintain the skills and capabilities we need to build sustainability.


2021/22 was the second year of our multi-year Strategy and Strategic Business Plan. We have continued to deliver and improve our core outputs and build the foundations for our future while responding to priority demands to inform key policy decisions across Government, including the continued operation and evolution of the COVID-19 Infection Survey and ancillary work. The success of Census 21 demonstrated our commitment to transforming how we collect data without compromising on quality, and significant progress in the delivery of the Integrated Data Programme has solidified the cross-Government drive to release the potential of shared data. We have secured commitment from wider Government to the transformation of our Economic and Public Policy statistics and analysis which enables us to progress at pace, and we have put in place the building blocks for an inclusive and sustainable business model.

Our achievements over the year have required us to think collectively as ‘One ONS’. The front-line successes have only been possible through the hard work of those involved in the process from end to end – survey collection, data ingest and processing through our data architecture and technical infrastructure, analysis and dissemination. All supported by our back-office functions – our procurement, human resource, finance and planning capabilities.

Challenges we have faced

The introduction to this section and the assessment of performance has highlighted the significant progress the organisation continues to make against the radical, ambitious, inclusive and sustainable drivers. As we emerge from the direct challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic we are transitioning to a new way of working that incorporates the positive aspects of being able to work anywhere, with the advantages of a transformed office space adapted for hybrid working.

As we strive to deliver ever more accessible, timely, high-quality outputs, we are dependent on our ability to engage and collaborate across Government to secure access to the data that underpins not only our core outputs, but also our transformation agenda. Maintaining and building these relationships will continue to be a key focus for ONS to unlock the potential of integrated data and to decrease our reliance on survey collection and the associated user-burden.

Our People plan clearly sets out the importance of our staff to the delivery of the UKSA strategy and ONS business plan. The challenge to attract and retain critical skillsets has been a priority focus for ONS in the last financial year and is set to continue into the next year with national labour market supply issues, in particular for the DDaT profession, but also analytical and project delivery disciplines. ONS is not alone in this challenge and will need to be innovative and deploy a wide range of initiatives to ensure we can continue to attract and retain the best people.

As the profile of ONS has increased since our successful response to the pandemic, so has the demand for our services – whether this is accessing or improving the timeliness and granularity of existing outputs or developing new outputs. This increased demand, while a positive reflection of the reputation of the organisation and the recognition of the importance of quality evidence to inform decision-making, it comes with the additional challenge of managing that demand whilst maintaining a pin sharp focus on our core strategy. Our new prioritisation, demand management and strategic resourcing frameworks will support this requirement, but there is still work to do to embed these into the
culture of the organisation.

There is also an emerging opportunity to recognise and effectively utilise the value of the ONS brand and outputs to contribute towards the sustainability of the organisation. ONS holds a unique position within Government and is a trusted interface with other sectors. Our products are in high demand and yet we continue to deliver with constrained resources. This presents both a challenge and a potential opportunity for the future of ONS. Whilst this section provides a summary of the key challenges we have faced in 2021/22, we set out our key ongoing risks within the Governance Statement on pages 60 to 63.

COVID-19 impacts

The impacts of the pandemic can be summarised under two broad headings – how the organisation has continued to assist in the nation’s response and recovery to the pandemic; and how the pandemic has impacted upon us as an organisation including how we have interacted with our third-party suppliers.

Assisting the wider response to the pandemic

The preceding paragraphs in this section of the report go into detail as to the role ONS has played in assisting in the UK’s response and recovery to the pandemic. The organisation has changed dramatically, with a significant increase in demand for statistics and analysis and expansion of its remit through its response to COVID-19 with a major focus on understanding the economic and social impact. This has however continued to place a significant strain at times on our people and resources. Whilst we have managed to make good progress across our strategic aims there is no doubt that our work related to COVID-19 has needed to take precedence at times over our other plans where we have faced constraints.

We have incurred significant additional costs associated with operating the COVID-19 Infection Survey, wider ancillary studies and the enhanced Opinions and Lifestyle Survey. These major activities have been funded in their entirety through central government or other government departments.

Internal impact

We have continued to manage impacts on our organisation, our staff and our ways of working as a direct result of the continuation of the pandemic through 2021/22. These impacts have continued to reduce capacity at times stretching our resources. A significant positive aspect has been our ability to effectively work remotely when needed to, helping transform how and where we work through our Evolving the Workplace programme. This is a testament to our ongoing investment in technology and infrastructure capabilities and the work of our IT services building positive outcomes from the learning we have taken from the pandemic.

Impacts on operational costs

Costs for office equipment and further IT equipment (such as laptops and peripherals) increased as expected in facilitating initial wholesale working from home and enabling ongoing hybrid working arrangements. We have also experienced additional facilities management costs associated with ensuring our estate is kept safe for those who have needed to access our site for critical activity or more widely in line with the periodic lockdown easing.

Netting off this additional cost is continued significant operational saving due to our inability to travel on official business either between our sites or elsewhere. This has changed during 2021/22 as the situation in respect of lockdowns across the nations has varied. However, as part of our cost management approach in 2021/22 we have reflected the anticipated ongoing reduced need to travel in reductions to organisational budgets.

We have continued to aid our staff during periods where we have not been able to permit wholesale access to our estate – again in line with central government guidance from Cabinet Office – in terms of increased costs that our staff have incurred as a result of working at home.

Looking ahead

The 2021 Spending Review (SR21) has established multi-year budgets across government. The outcomes of SR21 have driven prioritisation across the organisation and the latest Strategic Business Plan refresh in readiness for 2022/23.

The multi-year Spending Review settlement has provided more certainty, enabling us to plan into the longer term. Our strategic principles remain the same although we have reviewed our strategic objectives, streamlining them to improve clarity and ensure clear accountability for their delivery at the most senior levels in the organisation.

Our prioritisation framework has been developed to inform the development of the 2022/23 objectives. The 2022/23 business planning round involved numerous collaborative workshops to ensure that priorities were agreed, and cross-ONS dependencies were highlighted at an early stage in the planning cycle to support ‘enabling’ areas of ONS to develop practical schedules for delivery.

With agreed priorities and a one-ONS plan in place, the business will also move to a new rolling quarterly planning process to not only improve flexibility and responsiveness to changing priorities, but to also reduce and spread effort over the year. We published our refreshed Strategic Business Plan in June 2022.

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Key performance indicators (KPIs)

We developed a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as part of our Strategic Business Planning during 2020/21. We have iterated these KPIs during 2021/22 to ensure that we maintain their ongoing fitness for purpose and relevance to organisational activity as it evolves. The KPIs are disaggregated by Strategic Driver and complement the progress reporting against our strategic objectives (as set out in Section 2.5 above) through our internal governance. Our performance against the KPIs for 2021/22 is set out below.


Data Science
Campus research
>= 30%39% monthly average
from April 2021 - March
31% monthly average
from September
2020 - March 2021
Secure Research
Service number of
4,0765,270 users as of 31
March 2022
4,075 users as of 31
March 2021
Secure Research
Service number of
576581 live projects as of
31 March 2022
575 live projects as of
31 March 2021
Data acquisition
74% rated Green ‘On
track’ or complete as of
31 March 2022
70% rated Green ‘On
track’ or complete as
of 31 March 2021
Media coveragen/aAs of 31 March 2022:
7,931 mentions
in media, 23% of
which featured ONS
1. The Data Science Campus is involved in experimental research and supporting ONS delivery. This KPI measures how much of their time is spent on experimental research projects aligned to the Radical pillar of the ONS strategy.
2. The goal is to increase the number of users Year on Year. The target is set at the figure as of 31 March 2021 plus one. The methodology used for this KPI has changed since last year and so the figures presented here are not comparable to the figures published in the previous annual report.
3. The goal is to increase the number of projects Year on Year. The target is set at the figure as of 31 March 2021 plus one. The methodology used for this KPI has changed since last year and so the figures presented here are not
comparable to the figures published in the previous annual report.
4. This KPI was established to provide an indication of how we are performing against a key enabler for this strategic driver. No target has been set for this KPI currently although significant progress has been made.
5. This figure shows the total mentions of ONS and its outputs in the media landscape. Percentage shows what
proportion of these mentions featured a comment from an ONS spokesperson. There is no target set for media
coverage. This indicator was not tracked last year so no comparison is possible.


Major Errors07 major errors
reported between
April 2021 and
March 2022
10 major errors
reported between
April 2020 and
March 2021
escalated to the
OSR and National
00 statistical concerns
that required
escalation between
January 2022 and
March 2022
Social SurveysMaintain
response rates
2,560 Monthly
responses for March
2022 Labour Force
Survey Wave 1
2,885 Monthly
responses for March
2021 Labour Force
Survey Wave 1
COVID19 Infection
Swabs within
range 161,100 to
196,900 Bloods within range 121,500 to
179,555 Monthly UK
Swabs as of March
156,225 Monthly UK
Bloods as of March
389,179 Monthly UK
Swabs as of March
54,343 Monthly UK
Bloods as of March
5 – Errors and Breaches are two indicators measuring the quality of our outputs. The errors reported represent less than one per cent of our total statistical releases in the period. For context these errors are defined as those which, for example, could affect an important aspect of a release, or lead a user to misinterpret the statistics. As set out in the Governance Statement we are improving our approach to managing quality risks and strengthening the assurance system that operates to manage them. All errors were swiftly corrected and communicated to users.
6 – Statistical Concerns refers to ‘Reporting concerns under the code of practice’. The deputy Head of Profession will decide if a concern needs to be escalated to the Office for Statistics Regulation and the National Statistician. Data is only available from January 2022 and is not comparable to Statistical Breaches that were reported last year.
7 – Monthly responses are monitored to reflect the level of engagement with our key social surveys. We are yet to
establish a numerical target level for this KPI. During the period April 2021 to March 2022 the annual responses were 35,614 compared with 33,145 for the preceding 12 months which reflects an increase of 7.4%.
8 – Measures the number of Monthly UK Swabs and Monthly UK Bloods under the COVID19 Infection Survey – these are counts of results, including void tests, in the preceding 28 day period. The current target range is within 10% of 179,000 for swabs and within 10% of 135,000 for bloods. The target range over the life of the survey has varied and a significant decline in the number of swabs from 2021 is expected. Bloods for March 2022 were slightly outside the target range.


ONS Staff
- Ethnicity
By 2025 – 11% of
ONS staff are from an ethnic minority
As of March 2022:
7.9% of ONS staff are from an ethnic minority
ONS Staff
Diversity - Sex
By 2025 - 50% of staff at each grade, and 50% of staff overall are femaleAs of March 2022:
• 57% of ONS staff are female
• At least 50% of staff at all grades, except for Grade 6 (43%) and SCS (41%), are female
9 – Figures on ethnicity are calculated using data from declarations from ONS staff. The straight-line trend to our 2025 target gives us a target of 8.2% in March 2022 - 0.3 percentage points higher than the current figure. No comparison to last year is available as this target was not in place at that time. We have amended our targets since last year and introduced this indicator to help drive change.
10 – Figures on sex are calculated using data from declarations from ONS staff. No comparison to last year is available as this target was not in place at that time. We have amended our targets since last year and introduced this indicator to help drive change.


Achieve 7/7
Achieved 6/7 targets.
We failed to achieve
the ‘Water usage’
Achieved 5/5 targets12
ONS Staff LevelsIn line with
Staff increased by
315 compared to
Staff increased by
729 compared to
ONS Financial
Remain within key
control totals
All financial control
total targets met
All financial control
total targets met
12 – Data detailed in this report cover the period April 2021 to March 2022. The seven targets are direct building
emissions-tCO2e, paper purchased, water consumption, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, waste produced,
international flights and domestic flights. The targets are set centrally and there is a wider remit since 2020-21 which is why there are two additional targets. ONS failed to meet the water usage target primarily due to several significant leaks in pipework across the ONS estate. Most leaks have now been fixed with some ongoing work to resolve the remaining issues.
13 – Staff increases largely relate to the increase in activity associated with programs in our portfolio: Census 2021; the COVID19 Infection Survey and wider analysis; ARIES and the Integrated Data Programme.
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Resources and organisation

Financial management

We have continued to improve our internal business processes, raising financial awareness, providing expert advice and guidance and reporting key financial information through 2021/22.

Our income and expenditure remain significantly higher in 2021/22 than is traditionally the case and income has increased since 2020/21 as a result of the Programme funding received for the COVID-19 Infection Survey (CIS), Integrated Data Programme (IDP) and the Ambitious Radical Inclusive Economic Statistics (ARIES) Programme.
We have successfully managed our financial control totals for the year – which given continued increased scale and complexity is positive. We have returned un-utilised programme funding to HM Treasury through the Supplementary Estimates fiscal event (November 2021) during the year as part of our responsible approach to managing our finances. We will introduce a greater internal challenge in future years as part of our Supplementary Estimates preparation as part of our ongoing improvement to financial management.

We have complied with all HM Treasury expenditure control approvals processes, secured a comprehensive multi-year Spending Review (SR21) settlement and managed the standard annual fiscal events within the required timescales. Given the nature of our funding sources and operations in 21/22 – particularly in relation to the pandemic – we have needed to assist other government department colleagues in navigating their own internal governance, providing financial information and reporting expenditure including through variance analysis.

There were no specific efficiency targets set by the organisation or included within the HM Treasury budgetary settlement for financial year 2021/22. However, we have operated within core budgets that were frozen at 2020/21 levels in the 2020 Spending Review with the organisation having absorbed the impacts of cost inflation incurred during the year.

We have been able to re-purpose cost savings associated with decreased travel during the pandemic to meet increased costs associated with the pandemic – increased analysis associated with the UK response; increased cleaning and other safety measures across our estate; increased requirement for office equipment and IT to support working at home – without the need to call on central government emergency funding. We have also invested in an Evolving the Workplace project to ensure our Estate is fully equipped for hybrid working.

We managed to deliver savings within a number of our ring-fenced Programme budgets in 2021/22 whilst maintaining delivery, most notably relating to the Census 21 data collection activities. We also received a larger than anticipated VAT reclaim in relation to the significant uplift in CIS income leading to under expenditure against our baseline. We were able to secure significant cost savings through the re-procurement of third party services under the CIS programme in June 2021 which we were able to pass on to the funding department UKHSA.

Spending Review 2021 (SR21) provided us with a multi-year settlement over the three financial years 2022-23 through to 2024-25. The settlement provides funding certainty and supports the ongoing delivery of our strategy through a continuation of baseline funding plus specific programme funding allocations. We have set ourselves a challenging efficiency delivery agenda for the SR21 period which includes a need for all of our business areas to absorb the impacts of inflation and deliver sustained cost savings associated with discrete efficiency driving projects. We will use the efficiencies delivered to resolve inherent operational cost pressures and to progress wider organisational priorities that were not funded through the SR21 settlement. The Office for Statistics Regulation’s (OSR’s) budget forms part of the Authority’s wider accounts and whilst it is not disclosed separately in this report, defined parameters are applied in internal reporting.

Financial outcome

Total Departmental Expenditure Limit (DEL) for Resource expenditure reduced from £458.9m in 2020/21 to £448.9m in 2021/22. This figure is net of income and includes ring-fenced resource expenditure (depreciation). The reduction is due to a combination of offsetting movements with noteworthy items including the CDCTP Programme with expenditure decreasing following the Census Day in March 2021, and additional income being received for statistical research. These net resource expenditure reductions were partly offset with additional funding approved by HM Treasury for expenditure on IDSP and ARIES Programmes.

Taking the position gross of income receipts the expenditure figures increased to £867.1m in 2020/21 and £902.1m in 2021/22 respectively. These increases reflect an uplift in our expenditure funded via income from UKHSA in relation to CIS. Our 2021/22 financial statements include a full year’s income and expenditure for the Programme which was initiated in 2020/21. Integrated Data Service Programme (IDSP) expenditure has also accelerated with the Full Business Case approved by HM Treasury in August 2021 and progress made against delivery plans.

Significant Census and Data Collection Transformation Programme (CDCTP) expenditure also continued throughout 2021/22 as we progressed through the operational phases of Census 2021, albeit at lower levels than in 2020/21.
For a second consecutive year primarily as a result of CIS, our income increased from £408.2m in 2020/21 to £453.2m in 2021/22. This income was received from UKHSA in 2021/22. UKHSA is an executive agency, sponsored by the Department of Health and Social Care who previously supplied ONS with CIS income finding.

Capital expenditure during the year increased by £12.9m to £25.3m in 2021/22 (£12.5m in 2020/21). Our capital expenditure is made up of £13.7m investment in development of assets and £11.7m of expenditure classified as capital expenditure under the European System of National and Regional Accounts (ESA10). The latter is not classified as capital expenditure under International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The £12.9m increase in capital expenditure reflects an increase in our research work classified as capital expenditure (under ESA10), work on our Estate to ensure it is fully equipped for hybrid working and IDSP capital developments. Further information on our financial outturn is provided in the Financial Summary section on pages 71 to 72 and in our Accounts in chapter 4.

People capability

The Authority launched its five-year strategic plan in July 2020. Within the Authority we maintain a clear commitment to the development of all our people and ensuring skills development is accessible to all through a combination of accessible solutions that promote “learning in the flow of work” and ensuring those who may need a more focused approach benefit from publicised skills pathways and Diversity into Leadership programmes. Our approach has a strong focus on skills development that is both current and future focused and is aligned to our strategic resourcing framework.

The Authority is committed to the development of the professional skills and capabilities of all its people, which it supports through a blended learning approach. It is important that individuals can develop a lasting and fulfilling career through the Authority, supporting both attraction and retention ofhigh calibre employees. We have matured our approach to career pathways; and these are now accessible to all as skills pathways that support individuals to understand not only what they need to develop, but how to access that development. We have strengthened our commitment to the professional agenda by implementing dedicated support teams by profession to help individuals reach their full potential.

To develop and maintain an inclusive workforce, the Inclusion and Diversity plan was launched in 2020. Inclusion and Diversity is integral to the way in which the Learning Academy works; not only through ensuring all learning is fully accessible but by continuing to build on our knowledge and skills. The Learning Academy has strengthened its inclusion offer by building and launching an inclusion pathway that helps individuals navigate through developing their skills and knowledge in this area. The Academy has also added an additional dedicated Diversity into Leadership programme, Disability into Leadership, to supplement the well-established Women into Leadership and maturing Ethnic Minority into Leadership programmes.

The Authority’s approach to developing adaptive leaders, who understand the external environment, plan ahead, can flex and adjust, engender trust and inspire each other is through the adoption of an ambitious leadership programme. We are building and strengthening the leadership skills across the Authority through a range of learning interventions from Future and Senior Leaders Schemes; Leadership Development Pathways and New to Managing People in ONS.

We continue to strengthen our approach to Talent Management with talent and career development boards held from SCS to Grade 7. Succession planning has been a key priority in 21/22. The Authority continues to support the government’s apprenticeship initiatives by identifying roles within the organisation that can be filled by an apprentice and for AO to EO roles the Authority is taking an “apprentice first” approach.

The Authority adopts a continuous learning approach, encouraging personal growth and allowing colleagues to harness each other’s professional expertise. Working collaboratively across government we are building the skills of our professional staff by providing pathways for learning to support their continuous development. The Authority balances its approach between short term development and future skills requirement on a 3 to 5 year horizon to ensure that the Authority can ensure it has the right people with the right skills in the right jobs to deliver the Authority’s strategy.

Through our Learning Academy we provide skills and development opportunities through job shadowing, coaching, mentoring, secondments and loans. In 2021, the government mandate has strengthened the functional agenda and
we continue to build and mature our development and talent management approach for the Government Analysis Function to upskilling analysts across government using a One Analysis approach. This remains a key initiative as we go into 2022.

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Corporate responsibility

Anti-corruption and anti-bribery measures

The Authority is committed to upholding high standards of honesty and integrity in all its activities. We operate a zero tolerance policy approach to those who commit fraud and all cases of irregularity are investigated and dealt with appropriately. All staff are required to act with honesty, integrity and to safeguard the public resources they are responsible for.

The Authority Counter Fraud Team maintains a Fraud, Bribery and Corruption policy which is made available to all staff via the internal intranet. The policy establishes clear expectations in terms of roles and responsibilities and what processes they need to follow to report any concerns regarding fraud, bribery and corruption. The team has undertaken a fraud risk assessment which identifies areas where the Authority may be susceptible to fraud and the controls in place to ensure the risks of fraud are minimised. This included running a number of fraud risk assessment workshops and training sessions.

This assessment will be regularly reviewed and feeds into a fraud workplan and supports the identification of areas for proactive fraud work led by the Fraud Officer. The team also provide fraud reports at least twice a year to the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee. The counter-fraud team has not identified any material fraud for the period. The Authority continues to work on its commitments regarding counter-fraud, bribery and corruption, and to develop awareness and detection across the department.

All senior leaders in the organisation – interpreted here as members of the Senior Civil Service – are required to sign a declaration of interests and confirm a statement on related parties. In addition, all members of the procurement profession who hold contractual delegation are also required to sign the declaration. The Commercial Assurance Group which makes recommendations on commercial agreements convenes once a month as part of the Authority’s internal governance model.

Part of the standard agenda is a requirement of all members present to declare any specific interests in relation to any of the items for discussion at that meeting.

An ongoing register is maintained of all hospitality and gifts offered to Authority staff. All staff are aware of the civil service rules and the internal policy around acceptance of hospitality or gifts including the requirement to declare any offer. This register is periodically reviewed by the Authority Audit and Risk Assurance Committee to ensure adherence to policy. The last review took place in June 2022.

Other information in the public interest

Responding to members of the public

There have been zero complaints in 2021/22 (2020/21 zero) about the Authority by the Parliamentary Ombudsmen. All complaints have been resolved internally.

Whistleblowing arrangements

Making sure the Authority’s staff feel able to come forward with concerns is important in ensuring effective governance and management across the Authority.

The Authority’s Whistleblowing and Raising a Concern Policy encourages employees to raise concerns about wrongdoing, advises on the protection afforded to whistle blowers, and provides reassurance that concerns will be investigated responsibly and professionally. The Authority has also trained Nominated Officers in place who can be approached in relation to concerns. The policy and supporting guidance are accessible on the Authority’s intranet.

Respect for human rights

The Authority fully complies with the Human Rights Act 1998. The realisation of human rights correlates with the availability of sound official statistics. Statisticians play a critical role in supporting evidence- based policy and measuring civil, economic, political and social rights. In accordance with internationally accepted standards, starting with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the dissemination of relevant information is essential to meet peoples’ right to information and delivering on related entitlements to trustworthy statistics. Upholding rights, such as the rights to privacy and to be registered as well as the rights of statisticians themselves is vital to ensure robustness and independence in official statistical systems.

The Authority recognises these challenges and has established a clear Statement of Principles to ensure that we:

  • exercise our statutory responsibilities in a fair, proportionate and accountable way, with due regard for principles of privacy and appropriate degrees of internal and external scrutiny
  • work in a collaborative, transparent and fair manner with data suppliers, civil society and the general public, responding to any concerns or opportunities as they arise
  • reinforce our full accountability to the UK Parliament and the devolved legislatures in exercising our statutory responsibilities

Sustainable development

It is the policy of the UK Statistics Authority (including the Office for National Statistics, its Executive Office) to conduct its operations in a manner that reflects a commitment to the protection of the environment, embeds the principles and priorities of the Government’s sustainable development strategy and complies with environmental laws and regulations.

Our Sustainable Development Policy states this will be met by:

  • achieving continual improvement in environmental performance
  • considering the environmental impact of our operations and prevent pollution and reduce carbon emissions
  • aiming to meet the targets (KPIs) established by the Greening Government Commitments
  • meeting all environmental legislative requirements
  • complying with sustainable reporting requirements

Environmental performance

The Government’s Greening Commitments (GGC) have challenged us to reduce the environmental impact of our estate and operations. This section presents our progress against these KPIs and targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon and waste, on a yearly basis with the ultimate goal of net zero by 2050. During 2021 the baseline was reset to 2017/2018 with a change to the collection of direct emissions and flight data. Compared to the baseline, the initial results for 2021/22 are showing an 89% reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG).


- 2021-22
Whole estate
Whole estate
Direct building emissions
Total Tonnes
% Sent to Landfill% Waste RecycledWater
Total m3
Paper purchased
Reams A4 Equivalent
Domestic flights
International flights

Reduce our emissions

The Authority has been tasked with reducing the overall emissions by 38% and direct emissions by 43%.
The Greening Government Commitments (GGC) also challenges the Authority to reduce domestic flights by 30% against the new baseline figures from 2017/2018. The Authority has a travel policy which mandates that the cheapest method of transport be employed for any journey, which could encourage domestic air travel between the South East, North East and Scotland and Northern Ireland. Previous intervention projects have been put in place, however during the pandemic most flights were not operating resulting in much lower figures. Since flights have recommenced mid 2021 there has been a slow but steady increase in domestic flights but they are still well within target. GGC reporting is recording the number of international flights however it is worth noting that many of these flights are part of a FCDO funded division and therefore are being highlighted and demonstrated on an individual basis.

Improve our waste management

All information communication technology (ICT) equipment is disposed of via an established contract which helps ensure that all redundant ICT equipment is re-used or recycled responsibly.

The Authority has successfully reduced its overall tonnage of waste by 69% against the baseline figures. The Authority has also reduced paper use by 73% which is well ahead of a GGC target of a 50% reduction.

Water use

In 2021/2022, water consumption has been reduced by 8% against the baseline figures. This is on target for GGC despite having to rectify some substantial water leaks during this period.

Sustainable procurement

The Authority’s standard Terms and Conditions requires all suppliers to comply with our Sustainable Development Policy, which includes, but is not limited to, the conservation of energy, water, wood, paper and other resources, a reduction in waste, the phasing out of the use of ozone depleting substances and the minimisation of the release of greenhouse gases, volatile organic compounds and other substances damaging to health and the environment.

With the recent changes to procurement policy, the Authority has been able to fully embrace social value within a tender, placing it as a significant, mandated element of any evaluation. Key to the success of the implementation of social value is the ongoing work with our supply base to develop specifications and requirements that have sustainability at their heart.

The Authority extensively uses Public Sector Framework arrangements collaboratively managed by Government Organisations such as the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and the Government Digital Services’ (GDS). The CCS
and GDS Frameworks aim to encourage small and medium sized enterprises and local businesses to bid for work with support available to them if required.

The Authority continues to support the engagement of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across our contract base. The requirements of the Government Buying Standards are issued to the Commercial Services team on a quarterly basis via the Commercial Update, which is a comprehensive review of all Procurement news and legislation. The quarterly updates also provide information from across the Commercial Team such as data from the Cabinet Office approved Commercial Pipeline as these assist the Team in reviewing opportunities that may be of interest to smaller or local business ensuring appropriate timetables and market engagement are utilised.

Food and catering

The provision of food and catering to colleagues and occupiers of the Authority’s estate has remained impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Basic catering services recommenced during the year, and all catering providers’ staff came off furlough when the scheme concluded. All contractors are required to adhere to our sustainable development policy, but covid secure arrangements have impacted this with the re-introduction of packaging that had previously been eradicated from the service.

The Authority will work with the catering providers to eradicate single use plastics, where possible during 2022/23 as the controls in place during the pandemic are removed from the Authority offices.

Sustainable construction

The Authority’s refurbishment and construction works are designed and built with the objective of improving the performance of the estate, and in so doing contribute to achievement of greening government commitments target.
For example, the installation of LED light fittings as standard, low flow taps and carpets with recycled backing. All contractors are required to complete a sustainability questionnaire used as part of the tender process and are required to source materials in line with the GBS.

Our Evolving the Workplace (Etw) programme has reused existing furniture where possible, and any surplus has been given to communities and charities with the residual planned for sustainable recycling through specialist vendors.


The Authority complies with The Environment (Wales) Act 2016 Section 6 on Biodiversity. It does not have any responsibility for Sites of Special Scientific Interest but takes such action as it can, to promote, conserve and enhance biodiversity for example by specification of environmentally friendly measures in its Grounds Maintenance contract.
Project work is currently underway to increase our biodiversity credentials through the installation of beehives at both Newport and Titchfield offices, along with a wildflower area at Newport to increase local pollination opportunity.

Climate change adaptation

The Authority’s sustainable development action plan considers the long-term implications of its operations in relation to climate change. This action plan is updated yearly and assesses any risks of climate change, how the estate may require necessary adaption, is robust in the face of changing weather, extreme events and sea level rises from climate change.

Sustainable governance and decision making

Our sustainable development policy and action plan are embedded within our overall governance and decision making. Since 2017/18, when our Environmental Champions’ Group was initiated, many improvement projects
have been identified, elevated and presented to senior management for approval.

Examples of these projects are:

  • removal of single use plastics across the estate
  • a staff engagement project for World Environment Day (5 June), to improve recycling and plastic reduction.
  • electric vehicle charging points have been installed at Newport during 18/19, and Titchfield late 2019/20. Due to the increase in demand, there will be potential to install further points.

Rural proofing

Our estate is not positioned in rural areas, nor do the estate’s operational policies affect rural areas.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond
National Statistician
UK Statistics Authority
6 July 2022

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