This report covers the work of the Methodological Assurance Review Panel (MARP) from October 2021 to September 2022. In that period the Panel members carried out an average of ten days work each; the Panel met five times and considered ten papers detailing methodologies across both the Census programme and work on transforming population estimation, as well as a number of additional informal presentations. For a full list of papers assured during this period, and the minutes of meetings where these were discussed, please visit the MARP minutes page. These documents should be regarded as annexes to this report.
The period included most of the processing of the Census 2021 data, using methods that had been previously assured by the Panel. The Panel has been pleased to note the smooth running of these methods.
In the period covered by this report, the Panel continued to provide external, independent assurance and guidance on statistical methods, particularly the remaining methods for the 2021 Census and the transformation of population statistics being undertaken by ONS. The Panel continues to examine every paper in detail, both in preparation for the relevant meeting, and in discussion at the meetings themselves. The Panel is satisfied that ONS has taken due account of its guidance and challenge, and that the final versions of papers reflect this.
The Panel also aided with the quality assurance of the application of statistical methods for the 2021 Census, helping with an early review of the population estimates. This enabled them to feed back on the ways population estimation was proceeding, and to aid ONS in their delivery.
However, this year the Panel has predominantly reviewed papers on the future of population statistics. In this area they have been giving assurance on the methods which will inform the National Statistician’s upcoming consultation and recommendation on the future of the population, migration and social statistics system, including on the future of the census. This work will continue alongside the recommendation and any further developments needed.
At the request of the National Statistician, the Panel’s remit was actively reviewed, particularly looking at the potential for it to extend its remit to cover other areas of ONS work. As a result, its Terms of Reference were updated at the end of 2022.
Practically, the Panel continued to work predominantly online, with shorter and more regular meetings than before the pandemic. However, the Panel has started to return to in-person meetings where possible, to help facilitate discussions. However, the continued option of joining the meeting virtually has also been helpful.
The members of the Panel, Oliver Duke-Williams, Nik Lomax, David Martin, Natalie Shlomo, Ana Basiri and Bernard Silverman (chair), have continued to serve. This membership is under active review, to ensure that it continues to have the right expertise commensurate with the Terms of Reference. I would like to thank all the staff of ONS for their support, especially Dominick Thompson who acted as Secretary of the Panel for the year.
Sir Bernard Silverman, Chair of the Methodological Assurance Review Panel