Information needed Response
Title and link to statistical output Monthly Insolvency Statistics, June 2021
Name of producer organisation HMT - Insolvency Service

Name and contact details of person dealing with report Kate Palmer
0300 304 7195
Name and contact details of Head of Profession for Statistics or Lead Official John Perrett
0300 304 6975
Link to published statement about the breach (if relevant)
Date of breach report 20 July 2021

Information needed Response
Relevant principle(s) and practice(s) T3.3: “Access to statistics before their public release
should be limited to those involved in the production
of the statistics and the preparation of the release,
and for quality assurance and operational purposes.
Accurate records of those who have access before
they are finalised should be maintained.”
T3.4 “The circulation of statistics in their final form
ahead of their publication should be restricted to
eligible recipients, in line with the rules and
principles on pre-release access set out in
legislation for the UK and devolved
V2: Accessibility: "Statistics and data should be
equally available to all, not given to some people
before others. They should be published at a
sufficient level of detail and remain publicly
Date of occurrence of breach 15 July 2021

The Insolvency Service circulated the embargoed June monthly insolvency statistics to named individuals on the published pre-release access (PRA) list at 1.15pm on 15th July, ahead of publication at 9.30am on 16th July. The email contained appropriate protective markings and handling instructions that made it clear to officials at HM Treasury (HMT) that the statistics were embargoed, and were not to be forwarded or discussed with individuals not on the PRA list until 9.30am on 16th July.

At 3.14pm on 15th July an official at HMT forwarded an email containing some headline results to one of their HMT colleagues, and to an official in the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). These recipients were not entitled to early access to this information as they were not named on the PRAlist. The Insolvency Service deputy head of statistics (INSS Stats DH) was cc’d into the email. The INSS Stats DH notified all officials and asked them to not circulate further. Both recipients have confirmed that they only received the email containing a chart with headline company insolvency statistics, and not the full release. This is the first time, to their knowledge, that they have been forwarded statistics ahead of public release. The OBR recipient also confirmed that they were on annual leave on the afternoon of the email being sent and did not open the email until after the statistics were in the public domain.

The INSS Head of Statistics emailed the HMT officials on 16th July to remind them of their obligations and also informed the INSS Lead Official and both the BEIS and HMT Heads of Profession (HoP) of the breach.

The impact could have been considerable if these statistics were circulated more widely given external and media interest in these statistics. External commentators typically publicly respond to these statistics within a matter of hours of publication. However, neither recipient discussed the contents of the email received, or shared the email, with anyone else before public release and therefore the impact is considered minimal.

The Insolvency Service has asked HMT officials to justify the need for each individual to have access to ensure that the right people have early sight of the statistics, which HMT HoP supported. HMT officials have already actioned this, resulting in a reduced PRA list listing just a few officials who may be required to prepare a briefing ahead of public release.

In addition to reducing the list, HMT HoP will be briefing HMT Officials with continued PRA on their
responsibilities and the arrangements for statistics where they have PRA, including for branch heads where they are responsible. Further breaches of these statistics may result in HMT Officials being removed from the PRA list for these statistics.