Who we are

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is the executive office of the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA). Led by the National Statistician, Sir Ian Diamond, it is the UK’s national statistical institute and largest producer of official statistics.

The ONS delivers independent, high quality and relevant statistics and analysis, whilst leading the way on the international stage. Our statistics and analysis are crucial evidence for decision making by central and local government, the health service, businesses, charities and communities across the UK, as well as informing public debate.

The ONS responds to changing contexts and user demand for more flexible, tailored and granular data, including through transforming our approach to how we produce statistics across the economy, population and society.

The ONS is leading data linking across government to enable faster, evidence-based decisions, and gripping the opportunities and challenges of new technologies (such as artificial intelligence and large language models) to shape and support thriving analytical and statistical systems for the future.

Our key services include:

  • Measuring changes in the value and composition of the UK economy.
  • Estimating the size, geographical distribution and characteristics of the population (including information from the Census).
  • Providing analysis on and indicators of other social and economic topics of national interest.

The National Statistician also leads the following cross-government networks:

  • the Analysis Function – consists of around 17,000 people involved in the generation and dissemination of analysis across government and beyond. The function aims to improve the analytical capability of the Civil Service.
  • the Government Statistical Service (GSS) – is spread across a range of government departments and public bodies, including components of the devolved administrations.

The ONS sits at the heart of the GSS and Analysis Function and works with the network to provide the statistical evidence base, professional advice and analysis required by decision-makers to ensure policy and operations are evidenced and deliver value for money.

The ONS’s outputs, in line with the rest of the GSS, are regulated by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR). The OSR sets the code of practice; ensures that statistics are produced and disseminated in the public good; and enhances public confidence in the trustworthiness, quality and value of statistics. Those that meet the highest standards are given National Statistics status by the OSR – this applies to a range of the ONS’s key outputs.

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Vision and mission

The mission of the UK statistical system is:

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

Evidence produced free from political and commercial influence is a cornerstone of democratic society. It allows for the better formulation and evaluation of public policy; it informs public understanding of the world and our place in it; it informs decision makers to take choices and lets others hold the powerful to account. The Authority is uniquely placed for its role in this through:

  • a statutory remit enshrined in the Statistics and Registration Service Act to independently produce and safeguard national statistics, support the design of policy and produce analysis for the public good;
  • guiding principles of trustworthiness, quality and value enshrined in the statutory Code of Practice for Statistics overseen by the OSR;
  • the ability to bring together all those involved in producing statistics that serve society by convening cross government analytical capability and research interests through the breadth and talent of the GSS, the Government Analysis Function and the broader scientific and research community in the public and private sectors;
  • access to data under the Digital Economy Act, which supports our access to new sources of data, safely and securely, to produce the analysis our decision-makers need;
  • the capacity to innovate, develop new data science techniques and respond in real-time to the nation’s needs through the Data Science Campus; and
  • the practical application of data ethics, through the National Statistician’s Data Ethics Committee and the exercise of impartiality, transparency and openness in all we do to retain the trust of society.
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Our structure

The United Kingdom Statistics Authority (UKSA) is our governing body. Sir Robert Chote is the Chair of the Authority Board. Professor Sir Ian Diamond is the ONS Chief Executive and Permanent Secretary, and National Statistician.

The National Statistician’s team comprises six direct reports:

  • Deputy National Statistician for Economic, Social and Environmental Statistics
  • Deputy National Statistician for Data Capability
  • Deputy National Statistician for Health, Population and Methods
  • Deputy National Statistician for Special Projects
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Director for Operations

There are 15 Directors:

  • Director of Economic Statistics, Production and Analysis
  • Chief Economist and Director of Macroeconomic Statistics and Analysis
  • Director of Economic Statistics Change
  • Director of Census & Data Collection Transformation Programme Enablement, and Future of Population & Migration Statistics
  • Director of Public Policy Analysis
  • Director of Digital Services and Technology
  • Director of Methodology and Quality
  • Director of Data Growth and Operations
  • Director of Data Science Campus
  • Director for Operations
  • Director of Finance, Planning and Performance
  • Director of Communications, Engagement and Digital Publishing
  • Director of Integrated Data Programme
  • Director of Surveys
  • Director of Business Surveys
  • Director of Population Statistics

There are three other posts that have a dotted line report to the National Statistician because of the nature of the roles:

  • Head of Internal Audit
  • Chief Security Officer
  • Data Protection Officer
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2023/24 performance

This section presents some highlights of the organisation’s performance in 2023/24. More performance information can be found in the UKSA 2023/24 Annual Report and Accounts, which will be published once it has been laid before Parliament.

The ONS has continued to work alongside and as an integral part of the GSS, collaborating with key stakeholders during development of the Integrated Data Service, in our response to analytical demand on key topics and in the continuous improvement of our statistics. This approach to delivery will continue to be a key element to achieving the UKSA strategy as we enter its final year.

Integrated Data Service Programme

The Integrated Data Service (IDS) is in development and currently operates within a BETA maturity phase. In September 2023, IDS received Digital Economy Act (2017) accreditation for data provision, making IDS the first cloud-native trusted research environment to be accredited for data provision under the legislation and opening the opportunity to scale. The IDS will grow at pace over the remainder of the Programme with a pipeline of additional and transformational capability, data, projects and users as well as improved and accredited data integration and cross-sector collaboration enabled through cloud technologies that will drive significant uptake.

The total number of users, datasets and relevant projects across government has increased and currently stands at 125 cumulative users, 104 datasets (of which 14 are indexed for rapid data linkage) and 20 projects respectively. Analytical projects include the Health Drivers of Economic Inactivity, Energy Efficiency of Housing and Evaluating place-based programmes. The first research report based on analysis in IDS has recently been produced by the ONS in partnership with Administrative Data Research (ADR) Wales and Welsh Government, to explore differences between estimates of Welsh language ability in Census 2021 and household surveys. This is in line with the Welsh Language Strategy, Cymraeg 2050.

Responsive Analysis

The ONS continues to respond to emerging and priority topics that the public and government face. We continue to support investigations for those over 50 years old who are leaving the labour force, with further analysis using the Census considering the characteristics of those unemployed. We continue to produce insights into the impact of the cost of living in the UK, including qualitative research on specific groups, such as students.

At the turn of the year, working with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and Home Office, we published the results from our Ukrainian Humanitarian Survey, focusing on barriers to work, professions, the private rented sector and independent living. This provided data to inform government work in a range of areas including jobs and careers support, English language classes, access to housing and support payments to sponsors. The Analytical Hub’s survey work on the humanitarian response won the Government Social Research award and the Analysis in Government impact award in 2024, with judges praising the speed, impact and inclusive nature of the analysis. The third wave of our survey of those entering the UK was published in July 2023 and our latest release surveying sponsors of those hosting Ukrainian refugees was published in October 2023.

We are providing support to central government on the potential domestic and international implications of the conflict in the Middle East. This includes the Data Science Campus producing analysis on shipping and using open-source data to explore sentiments in the region and beyond. We responded to several commissions including rapid-turnaround Census figures to support the Home Office’s community cohesion work and Cabinet Office analysis of the domestic social and political implications. Separately, eight ONS analysts have joined the new Crisis Surge Team within the National Situation Centre in the Cabinet Office. They will be available to be loaned at short notice during major incidents and crises to support government’s analytical response and will gain experience of crisis operations, allowing them to apply this to rapid response work in the ONS.

The ONS published its first insights into public awareness, opinions and use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), ahead of the UK’s Global Summit on AI Safety. Results have been extensively used across government, filling a critical evidence gap in our knowledge of key emerging technologies.

As part of our Beyond Gross Domestic Product (GDP) programme of work, our UK Measures of National Well-being were updated (the first after our major review) with a total of 58 measures giving a comprehensive understanding of how the nation feels.

Population and Migration

In November, we published a suite of population and international migration releases which discussed the main drivers for migration to the UK and explained why we update our estimates of international migration and the transformation of the population and migration statistical system. We also published the latest research article update into how we are refining and improving methods to produce admin-based population estimates.

The UK Statistics Authority, on the advice of the National Statistician, will make a recommendation to HM Government on the future of population and migration statistics, early in 2024/25. This follows a public consultation that ran from June 2023 to October 2023 and will detail how the ONS should produce statistics about population and migration in England and Wales in the future, based on user need. An analysis of the consultation responses will be published alongside the recommendation.

COVID-19 and Future Health Monitoring

Applying valuable lessons from the COVID-19 Infection Survey (CIS), which resulted in over two million completed questionnaires and 2.9 million samples, the ONS re-utilised its online platform to deliver the Winter COVID-19 Infection Study in partnership with the UK Health Security Agency. The study achieved an 80 per cent response rate from 130,000 participants. The results have raised awareness of COVID-19 infection levels, informed public health messaging and have enabled understanding of winter pressures and their potential impact on the NHS.

To embed a legacy from the CIS we have initiated a Pandemic Preparedness Toolkit project (funded by the Wellcome Trust), working with international partners to develop a toolkit for National Statistics Institutes and associated Health Agencies to support effective health surveillance programmes, ensuring they have impact with policy makers and wider stakeholders.


As part of plans to make the ONS’s crime statistics more inclusive, December 2023 saw the publication of a report exploring how to better incorporate data on crimes against care home residents; this is part of our work on victimisation of the non-household population. It focussed on what sources of administrative data are currently available and whether the Crime Survey for England and Wales should be extended to cover care homes.

Economic Statistics

The Blue and Pink Books were successfully published in October 2023, with improved estimates of education-related travel exports and the latest data and improved methods for measuring the UK economy. Ahead of this in September, the ONS published Quarterly National Accounts, Sector Accounts, Balance of Payments and related releases, incorporating important developments and improvements.

The Public Service Productivity Review (commissioned by the Chancellor) delivered its first milestone with new experimental baselines for long-term growth estimates, and ‘nowcasts’ for 2021/22 published in November. The ONS launched the Time Use Survey for Public Sector workers in January 2024, capturing detail on administrative burden placed on key workers, the results of which informed the Spring Budget 2024.

In December 2023, the ONS published the first quarterly publication of the Household Costs Indices (HCIs) looking at households’ experience of inflation. This was launched alongside webinar sessions to showcase and support user understanding of these statistics. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with many welcoming this work and highlighting the importance of these statistics.

New tools and Innovation

We continue to put users at the heart of everything that we do so they can find, understand and explore our data and insight to make decisions at a national, local and individual level. We are committed to ensuring our statistics and analysis are clear, concise and can be easily understood and used by our broad range of audiences.

We have continued to innovate and build on the success of our award-winning Census products. We have implemented innovative interactive tools to support dissemination of Census data and maximise the use of data for the public good. Examples include using the “create a custom dataset” tool to help brief ministers on the characteristics of the Sudanese-born population in response to conflict in Sudan. There has also been positive user feedback to our “create a population group profile” tool that allows users to see how a selected population group compares to the whole population of England and Wales across a variety of measures including health, education and employment.

A shopping prices comparison tool was launched in May 2023 to help people see how the average prices of hundreds of individual shopping items are changing. The tool had more than 650,000 views in the first few days and was embedded in the BBC website after widespread media coverage.

Available through the ONS website, in March 2024, we launched a new Explore local statistics – ONS Beta service which allows users to see at a glance how a geographical area is doing on a range of indicators, how things have changed over time, and how it compares to other areas or the rest of the country. The new Explore Local Statistics journey is an important service for everyone – from local and central government, devolved administrations, academia, the media, the private sector and all interested citizens seeking detailed insight on research topics. It will help to ensure local leaders and the teams that support them, have access to the data, statistics, and analysis they need to make evidence-based decisions.

International Leadership

In April 2023, ONS experts attended the United Nations meeting for the Group of Experts on National Accounts, leading sessions on the impact of migration on the National Accounts, the use of real-time indicators and the impact of high inflation.

In October 2023, the ONS hosted the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Conference of European Statisticians Bureau. The Bureau directs statistical work across the UNECE region and beyond, identifying upcoming opportunities and potential challenges. The ONS presented work on alternative or ‘supplementary’ population bases as well as data ethics and social acceptability.

In January 2024, the Data Science Campus launched the International Data Masterclass, an open online course aimed at building data skills in leaders in global governments and the public sector. Launch events took place in Rwanda and Ghana with wider user roll-out planned in collaboration with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and the United Nations Statistics Division.


A mid-term review of the UKSA strategy was carried out which evaluated what our existing strategic drivers meant in 2023/24 and looked ahead at challenges for 2024/25. The review suggested a focus on themes such as effective communication of statistics; improving awareness of statistics; improving statistical literacy in partnership with others; and the emerging role of both automation and artificial intelligence within the statistical and analytical system.

We have made improvements to the external communications of our statistical outputs, with additional media briefing sessions, webinars and new innovative pre-recorded video content which gained traction across our social media channels.

We were awarded a further three years of official accreditation as a Disability Confident Leader recognising our inclusive approach towards colleagues with disabilities, inclusive practices in recruitment and inclusive working environment.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) People Management Awards 2023 shortlisted the ONS in the Best Flexible Working Initiative category, recognising our hard work and colleague-centred approach to being an inclusive organisation with a great working environment. The ONS were highly commended at the CIPD Awards Wales in the category of ‘Best Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative’. This commendation recognised the incredible work on the development and embedding of the Inclusion, Culture and Wellbeing Dashboard, as well as the roll out of our team learning Inclusive Interactive Experience; all of which aim to contribute considerably to one of our four UKSA strategic drivers ‘Inclusive’.

Furthermore, the ONS was recognised by the Civil Service Commissioner as highly commended for its recruitment processes, recognising the effectiveness of our processes and candidate experience for the second consecutive year.

The ONS achieved its £16.8m efficiency and cost reduction target in 2023/24, as set out in the ONS Efficiencies and Savings Plan (ESP). Our ESP is based on our submission to HM Treasury in response to the Efficiencies and Savings Review announced in November 2022. Measures contributing to meeting this target included streamlining our outputs, automation, revising our commercial approaches and reducing our corporate services costs. Our ESP workstreams have delivered quality improvements and have helped mitigate risks, while releasing savings for reinvestment into our core strategic priorities.

In June 2023, it was announced that the UK Statistics Authority (including the Office for National Statistics and Office for Statistics Regulation) would be subject to an independent review as part of the Cabinet Office’s Public Bodies Review programme. The Review centred around the themes of efficacy, governance, accountability and efficiency. It was conducted following a public call for evidence and conversations with Authority colleagues, users and producers of official statistics across the statistical system and beyond. The Review was published alongside the Government’s response on 12 March 2024 and contained a number of recommendations for the Authority and for the Government based on its findings. On the day of its publication, UK Statistics Authority Chair, Sir Robert Chote, released a statement welcoming the report, in particular the recommendations on data sharing, improving social survey response rates and user engagement. We look forward to implementing those relevant to ONS.

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Performance against 2023/24 milestones

Quarter 1 (Apr-Jun)Improve the measurement of inflation through using rail fares transaction dataCompleted
Publish Census 2021 analysis on important equality topics including ethnicity, national identity, sexual orientation, and gender identityCompleted
Publish the Annual Review of the Inclusive Data Taskforce Implementation PlanCompleted
Achieve Digital Economy Act accreditation for Integrated Data Service as a Trusted Research EnvironmentCompleted
Publication on the knowledge and use of Artificial IntelligenceCompleted
Publish international migration estimates in May, which include improved methods, further breakdowns and the inclusion of asylum seekers. Completed
Quarter 2 (Jul-Sep)Produce first analysis of Visa data on the geography and timing of spending trendsCompleted
Publish findings of Wave 3 Ukraine Humanitarian Response SurveyCompleted
Publish Impact of increased Cost of Living on adults across Great BritainCompleted
Launch of new National Wellbeing dashboard and recommendation report as part of ambition to move Beyond GDP (Gross Domestic Product)Completed
Publish first release of Birth Statistics and lay before ParliamentCompleted
Deliver mid-term review of UK Statistics Authority StrategyCompleted
Quarter 3 (Oct-Dec)Publish 23/24 quarterly England and Wales crime estimates, alongside focused analytical articles on topics including Domestic AbuseCompleted
Publish Annual 2021 Gross Value Added data at Lower layer Super Output Areas, Data Zone and Super Output AreasCompleted
Measure and publish UK Economy through the Annual Blue Book and Pink BookCompleted
Quarter 4 (Jan-Mar)Use new data and data collection methods to improve Labour Market estimatesRe-baselined to September 2024
1500 active users on the Integrated Data ServiceNot Completed
Develop and release of experimental data on distributional household income and consumptionCompleted
Develop survey on child abuse and safeguarding procedureCompleted
Produce Retail Price Index statistics meeting legal obligationsCompleted
Improve the measurement of inflation through using rent and used cars dataCompleted
Publish 23/24 quarterly England and Wales crime estimates, alongside focused analytical articles on topics including HomicideCompleted
The National Statistician makes his recommendation on future Population statistics to ParliamentCompleted
Deliver £3.9m savings and efficiencies across the ONS Survey Portfolio in 23/24Completed
Deliver the Wellbeing Hub as part of the ONS Wellbeing Plan - focusing on workplace, mental, physical, social and financial wellbeing and providing clear and easy access to support for employees and line managerCompleted
Deliver the GSS International Strategy, taking a leading role in key international statistical forums and multilateral organisationsCompleted
Increase the number of strategic country partnerships to eight through our world leading International Development ProgrammeCompleted
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