2024/25 Plan

The financial context

The ONS continues to operate in a constrained financial environment as we move into the final year of the UKSA strategy. The ONS gross budget (including income) decreases by 1% in nominal terms moving from 2023/24 into 2024/25, but the organisation continues to face rising cost pressures which makes the real term impact more than 5%.

We will continue to be innovative in how we deliver against our priorities, making effective use of technological advances such as Artificial Intelligence to drive internal efficiencies and we will reduce expenditure on overheads and areas that do not contribute directly to statistical production. However, it is inevitable that there will be some impact on the format, frequency and volume of our statistical outputs so that we can continue to deliver quality outputs.

Therefore, prioritisation has been required to ensure that the ONS continues to deliver its core statistical outputs to a high quality. This plan reflects the outcome of careful consideration in deciding on our priorities for 2024/25 (see section 3.4) and early stakeholder engagement on the statistical products that they find most impactful. Changes to specific outputs will only be made after engagement with users (see section 3.6). We will continue to focus on content quality, producing concise, clear and impactful statistics that are easier for users to find, understand and explore.

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The golden thread

The figure below shows the key components and levels of the ONS planning landscape and how it all fits together. It also shows the relationship between the UKSA Strategy and colleagues’ personal goals.

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Our four strategic drivers

The UKSA strategy has four strategic drivers (also known as ‘pillars’) that direct our work and delivery approaches, and these are explained in more detail below.


We will be radical in our drive for inclusive, cross-cutting analysis that support Government, civil society and the public understand the key questions of the day. To do so we will exploit radical approaches to data analysis, utilising leading-edge data science and methodological techniques, real-time data streams and AI to generate powerful insights to respond in an agile way to demand. We will form inclusive partnerships across government, academia and civil society to ensure ongoing relevance to all our stakeholders, to harness the best expertise and maintain our ability to pivot our response rapidly to new and emerging priorities, as demonstrated through the COVID-19 Infection Survey. Through the Integrated Data Service Programme, we will deliver the capability, processes and technology to support the integration of government data and deliver and disseminate analysis that cuts across organisational and societal boundaries.


We will deliver relevant and timely reference statistics at pace with a relentless drive for quality and inclusion that reflect the population, society, economy and environment we live in today, including high-quality outputs from the Census 2021. We will drive forward improvements to our outputs, data collection and data sharing across government (both legislative and policy), reducing friction and expediting access whilst ensuring our data principles are upheld. We will deliver ever more timely and granular economic and social statistics – flexing capacity across data science and analysis to meet government’s data needs. We will deploy industry leading technology and tools to enhance our productivity and collaborative working, building a working environment that retains and attracts the best talent. We will transform how we present data to provide quick and easy access to all users through the web development programme.


We will ensure that the data we collect and outputs we produce reflect all sectors and groups of the economy and every member of society, acting on the recommendations from the Inclusive Data Task Force. We will embed inclusivity in all our policies, practices and outputs to ensure our statistics and analysis reflect the diversity of the economy and society in which we live and are fully accessible. Our colleagues and partnerships will be representative of the society we live in, supportive of the wellbeing of our workforce and inclusive by design in line with the principles of our People Plan.


We will deliver key data in support of the net zero agenda through our economic, social and environmental statistics. We will pursue a continuous improvement approach through our efficiency framework to identify and deliver efficiencies that deliver more for less by simplifying, modernising and automating processes whilst reducing reliance on legacy systems and processes. We will consider the sustainability of all our activities in relation to finance, people, technology and environmental factors, and develop a sustainable business model that integrates lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. This will include aligning our resources to activities and programmes where we are uniquely placed to deliver and that have the highest impact on our strategic priorities.

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Priority outcomes and activities

Priority outcomes provide the link between our strategic drivers (above) and the details of our workplan in 2024/25. The ONS has developed five priority outcomes for 2024/25 which align our delivery focus to the UKSA strategy and emphasise our position as a National Statistics Institute. In developing these priorities, the organisation has made a clear commitment to securing the stability and quality of its core statistical outputs and will work closely with colleagues across government to secure the significant benefits available through data sharing. Significant activities are listed under each priority outcome, and further information on our 2024/25 Key Milestones can be found in Annex A.

1. An enhanced reputation and trustworthiness for delivering independent and high-quality statistics and analysis.

  • Our Survey Transformation will enhance core data collection operations and improve quality of our surveys including the Transformed Labour Force Survey (TLFS), which will be fully operational this financial year.

2. Top quality published statistics on health, population and migration.

  • The Future Population and Migration Statistics(FPMS) Programme is a priority programme within the ONS portfolio and is part of government’s major projects portfolio. The programme will build on the realisation of benefits from the Census and Data Collection Transformation Programme, bringing together the technology, research and capability developed to provide a responsive population and migration statistical system. We are conducting research to inform options and the most suitable approach for FPMS’ coverage adjustment by the end of the second quarter of 2024/25.
  • Population and migration statistics: The ONS will publish official annual population estimates in the first quarter of 2024/25 with both official population projections for the UK at national level and official demographic statistics with analysis following at the end of the third quarter. Migration and travel and tourism statistics will be published in the fourth quarter of 2024/25.
  • Core health statistics: The first release of Annual Births and Deaths statistics will be published by end of the second quarter 2024/25.

3. Top quality published statistics on prices, GDP and employment.

  • Our Ambitious, Radical, Inclusive Economic Statistics (ARIES) programme will improve our core statistical offering and maintain international standards and comparability, in line with user needs, and exploit new data sources and innovative methods to inform better quality, more timely and relevant statistics. In 2024/25, the programme will ensure that the Transformed Labour Force Survey will be used for the first time across the suite of the ONS’s labour market publications.
  • The ONS will continue to publish high quality statistics on Prices, GDP and employment. This will include the publication of GDP figures, labour market outputs, the Blue Book and Pink Book to pre-announced schedules.

4. Greater linked data capabilities that result in faster, evidence-based decisions across government.

  • The Integrated Data Service Programme (IDSP) is a government wide initiative intended to create a central hub of high-quality accessible data, critical for driving efficiency and improving public service. This service will be delivered in line with its Target Operating Model by the end of 2024/25.

5. Modernised and sustainable digital infrastructure using a secure, modularised approach.

  • We will continue to focus on legacy replacement and automation to improve our digital infrastructure, improve statistical quality and ensure long term stability of critical outputs. The ONS will utilise new technology to deliver the Statistical Business Register that will replace the legacy Inter-Departmental Business Register IDBR system by the end of the second quarter 2024/25.

We will align our existing workforce to these priorities and bolster critical skillsets in certain areas supported by an updated People Plan. We will also continue to deliver our Efficiencies and Savings Plan (ESP), maintaining a focus on streamlining our outputs, automation, revising our commercial approach and reducing corporate service costs, to deliver a further £12.0m in efficiencies and cost savings in 2024/25. This will be reinvested across our five priority outcomes.

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Strategic risks

As the ONS re-points its resources to the priorities described above, there will be a continued focus on managing our full profile of strategic risks and reviewing any impacts resulting from prioritisation. This includes risks related to quality, communications and technological resilience, as well as ensuring there is a resilient and sustainable model for funding and delivery within the current economic climate. The interplay between our strategic risks will be continually assessed to ensure a balanced position that enables the ONS to maintain its reputation for quality statistics.

Building on the improvements to our risk and assurance framework in 2023/24 and the roll out of our new risk management tool, there will be a continued drive to build our risk and assurance capability. This is to ensure a consistent risk and assurance culture and application across all levels of the organisation that supports the management of our strategic risks.

The UKSA’s strategic risks, endorsed by the Authority Board and set out in Annex C, have informed the 2024/25 Strategic Business Plan. All strategic risks have assigned risk owners at the senior leadership level and are overseen by the relevant executive governance forum.

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We remain committed to putting users at the heart of our work. We are proud that our latest stakeholder insights indicate that we continue to have a good reputation with our major stakeholders. We are viewed as delivering high quality “gold standard” statistics, and as innovative, impartial and expert. Close relationships and collaboration with users help us identify opportunities to improve the quality and coverage of our statistics, and be radical and ambitious in setting out to provide answers to society’s most pressing questions.

At a strategic level, the National Statistician’s Expert User Advisory Committee (NSEUAC) brings the needs of users into our approach, including providing user insights into the impact of the ONS’s prioritisation activities. Our commitment to inclusivity transcends our statistics; we continually look to expand our engagement to reach as wide a set of users as possible to fully reflect diverse needs. As part of this our ONS Assembly supports regular dialogue on delivering inclusive data with charities and bodies representing the interests of different groups of the population.

As part of our ongoing efforts to engage users on our priorities and plans, we have asked the Royal Statistical Society for their insight on our prioritisation. We have implemented an engagement plan that uses a range of channels including our regular forums and individual meetings with key users. We are also planning a senior stakeholder event as an opportunity to discuss our Strategic Business Plan and significant topics with users.

An example of our commitment to engagement was the consultation on the future of the population and migration statistics where we undertook engagement to maximise awareness and accessibility of our proposals and reaching as many users as possible. We focused on providing resources to make sure users had access to information to make an informed response to the consultation questionnaire. This was delivered through emails, newsletters, social media, conferences, webinars, meetings, launch events and a series of roundtables across several sectors. The outcome of this was over 700 responses covering all sectors, from both national and local organisations.

At a working level, our Engagement Hub coordinates our work with external stakeholders and broadens our reach especially with local users and communities. We also engage with the public to bring the citizen voice into our decisions so that our statistics fully reflect society and that they inform all groups of the population.

The ONS Local and Devolved Liaison Officers provide analytical support to local, regional and national leaders, including bespoke projects to fill local data gaps; highlighting user needs identified locally with other parts of the ONS/GSS; navigating the current landscape of available subnational data; and capability building activities. This close working enables local data and expertise to be combined with granular data to maximise analytical insight. Since its launch in England in March 2023, we have had a range of projects underway, with the focus on working closely with new and emerging Mayoral Combined Authorities. Projects here include topics such as Public Sector Expenditure and Tax Generation, broadband infrastructure investment, night-time economy, economic inactivity and travel and access inequalities – some of these projects are being progressed on the IDS.

The ONS Local’s offer to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has also been developing. Here, we provide a bespoke service to each of the Devolved Nations, developing workplans and agreeing priorities. Our devolved service is most mature in Scotland where we have delivered projects looking at the profile of graduates in non-graduate jobs in Scotland and are currently working on a request on productivity for Glasgow City Region. Our regular “ONS Local Presents…” workshops that focus on building capability have had a lot of success, recently hosting over 600 attendees at each event. This work also ensures we bring into the ONS the best quality local intelligence, ensuring that our statistics continue to remain relevant and meet priority user needs.

Our close working relationship with the other government departments across the UK continues to expand and will be essential if we are to secure the benefits of data sharing. Our strategic partnership with the Cabinet Office through the Joint Data and Analysis Centre ensures the ONS keeps up to date on the key priorities of government, including urgent and emerging important topics, and allows the ONS to respond at pace and maximise the relevance of our statistics and analysis. In return, the ONS’s expertise enhances robustness of analysis and data science at the heart of Whitehall.

We have made strong progress on delivering the Analysis Function strategy, collaborating closely across government to support the 17,000 strong community of analysts in delivering better outcomes for the public. The Analysis Function continues to score the highest of any function across all seven dimensions of the annual Functional Quality Survey, which is testament to the significant contribution that analysts across government make in supporting decision making, driving innovation and delivering efficiencies.

Our Analytical Priorities Board brings together leads from across the ONS for topic areas with the aim of ensuring our analytical priorities for the next six months are informed by stakeholder feedback, both from the public and central and local government insight. This ensures we provide analysis that links to wider government priorities and horizon scanning to determine future analytical needs.

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