Members Present

  • Professor David Hand (Chair)
  • Dame Kate Barker
  • Professor Paul Boyle
  • Professor Diane Coyle
  • Professor Sir Ian Diamond
  • Professor Jane Falkingham
  • Dame Moira Gibb
  • Ed Humpherson
  • Professor David Martin
  • Professor Ann Phoenix
  • Sir Bernard Silverman
  • Stian Westlake

In attendance

  • Professor Paul Allin
  • Owen Brace
  • Robert Bumpstead
  • Alison Pritchard (for item 3)

Secretariat

  • Fran Tovey
  • Simon Whitworth

Apologies

  • None

1. Introductions from the Chair and National Statistician and members

    1. The Chair welcomed members to the first meeting of the National Statistician’s Expert User Advisory Committee. There were no apologies received.
    2. The Chair and National Statistician provided their thoughts on the committee which had been established to ensure that users of statistics were served as best as possible. Discussions would draw on expertise to enhance the user experience.
    3. Members introduced themselves and explained how their expertise would support and inform the committee.

2. Terms of Reference

    1. Members agreed the committee Terms of Reference (TOR) and reiterated that the committee should focus on user needs and should also try to identify potential users. The committee would add value by consulting experts on their views on user engagement to make it embedded, rounded, and complete in all ways. The committee would take a UK wide approach to data and should be seen as a group that could raise issues and topics affecting the whole UK.

3. Integrated Data Service [NSEUAC(22)01]

    1. Alison Pritchard presented slides giving an overview and update on the Integrated Data Service (IDS).
    2. The following points were raised in discussion:
      1. the governance structure of the IDS should give clear indication for what purposes data could be used and should identify sensitive topics and risks to ensure that no users were overlooked;
      2. the IDS was investigating how privacy enhancement technology could be used and all data would be aggregated at point of use;
      3. the IDS would be optimised for public sector use, but would also be available for accredited research use through the Digital Economy Act;
      4. the Secure Research Service would only be switched off once the IDS provided a more enhanced service; and
      5. in future there were likely to be a number of UK wide trusted research environments which would enable access to a wide range of deidentified data that could be accessed in ethical ways and for the public good.
  1. Members supported the IDS and agreed that it should provide the infrastructure, support, and ability to access a wide range of data leading to enhanced insight and understanding for all users. Members were encouraged to disseminate information on the IDS to users.

4. Website [NSEUAC(22)02]

    1. Owen Brace presented a paper about how data was disseminated across the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Government Statistical Service (GSS) focussing on the importance of making data, statistics, and analysis available to a wider range of users. Members were asked to help identify opportunities to make sure the right information reached people who needed it the most. Members were asked to consider current personas to recognise where improvements could be made, and data could be unlocked through engagement with different users.
    2. The following points were raised in discussion:
      1. dissemination was at the core of user engagement and would be a topic of focus for the committee;
      2. educational personas should be considered so that the ONS could produce data that schools, and universities wanted to use;
      3. there was a vast variety of users, and third parties that could be encouraged to use data to stimulate the economy;
      4. it would be useful to enhance the opportunities for users to compare data across international boundaries;
      5. differences between casual and expert users should be addressed and the user experience should be tailored to individual requirements so that information was provided in a more tangible way; and
      6. work was taking place to build an online collaboration platform to facilitate two way conversations between users and producers of statistics.
  1. The meeting agreed that the Web Dissemination strategy was progressing in the right direction and would lead to exciting possibilities and should be strongly aligned with the IDS to create opportunities to link data and ensure data was available to a vast variety of user needs.

5. National Statistician[NSEUAC(22)03]

    1. Professor Sir Ian Diamond presented a paper on his observations for statistical priorities. Statistics would continue to be produced to the highest standards whilst also transforming access to data and statistics to improve the user experience. Work would take place to provide faster real time indicators on a variety of issues as well as improving the accuracy and relevance of data. Business surveys were being radically transformed with thought given to minimising user burden. Inclusive data was critical to make sure every citizen had a voice. Qualitative data was important when thinking about inclusivity.
    2. The following points were raised in discussion:
      1. one role of the committee was to consider inclusivity by identifying user groups and potential users that hadn’t been identified before;
      2. the faster economic indicators work by the ONS was impressive, but data moved quickly, and care needed to be taken not to over respond to short-term random fluctuations;
      3. unknown unknowns were an important consideration when considering potential users;
      4. prioritisation of questions was important;
      5. questions from the public needed to be answered as well as government questions;
      6. the ONS had a role to play as an international organisation in collaboration and comparability of data; and
      7. work was taking place with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development around international standards for comparable data.
  1. The meeting agreed that it was critical that the statistical system was engaging with how data was being used and how the use of data was for the public good.

6. Forward Agenda

    1. The meeting discussed future agendas, members agreed that a prominent member of the user community, or an identified potential user from civic society groups with interests in data should be invited to each meeting to discuss challenges faced. Inviting users and potential users to address the committee would allow the committee to identify areas in statistics, data and analysis that were not well developed or not known.
    2. Anna Powell-Smith, the founder and director of the Centre for Public Data was suggested as the first potential speaker.
    3. Homelessness and Education and Local Area statistics and Levelling Up were suggested areas of focus for future meetings. Members also agreed that Europe and data issues as a result of Brexit should be considered.
    4. Members were reminded that prioritisation in some areas may mean de-prioritisation in others and flexibility was essential. Members were encouraged to provide any suggested future agenda topics to the chair and secretariat.

7. Any other business

    1. The next meeting would take place on Monday 11 July 2022.