Members Present

  • Professor David Hand (Chair)
  • Professor Paul Allin
  • Professor Sir Ian Diamond
  • Professor Jane Falkingham
  • Professor David Martin
  • Professor Ann Phoenix
  • Stian Westlake

In attendance

  • Paul Johnson (for item 2)
  • Peter Levell (for item 2)
  • Lara Phelan (for item 3)
  • Debra Prestwood (for item 3)
  • Anna Price(for item 5
  • Alison Pritchard (for item 4)
  • Mat Weldon (for item 4)

Secretariat

  • Fran Tovey
  • Simon Whitworth

Apologies

  • Dame Kate Barker
  • Professor Paul Boyle
  • Owen Brace
  • Robert Bumpstead
  • Professor Diane Coyle
  • Dame Moira Gibb
  • Ed Humpherson
  • Sir Bernard Silverman

1. Minutes and matters arising

  1. Members were welcomed to the meeting. Apologies were received from Kate Barker, Paul Boyle, Owen Brace, Robert Bumpstead, Diane Coyle, Moira Gibb, Ed Humpherson, and Bernard Silverman. The minutes from the meeting of 4 October were agreed and all actions were reviewed.
  2. Members agreed that papers for the National Statistician’s Expert User Advisory Committee (NSEUAC) would be published on the UK Statistics Authority Website going forward.

2. Discussion with User (Paul Johnson)

  1. Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) joined the meeting to reflect from his perspective as a user of statistics. Paul discussed the challenges and opportunities around access to, and availability and useability of microdata. The IFS was a major consumer of both survey and administrative data and faced challenges in both. The IFS faced growing issues arounds nonresponse and measurement error in survey data, leading to the need for strong imputation assumptions. Clearer, easier, and more accessible data sets, and the capacity to link administrative data would help the IFS provide more timely answers to questions where there were currently constraints. The data priorities for the IFS were improving access to administrative data, linking administrative and survey data, and timeliness of data when there were big, immediate policy concerns. The Office for National Statistics were encouraged to support these matters, and the Covid Infection Survey, was provided as an example for a suggested model for rapid response.
  2. Members discussed developments in the Integrated Data Service (IDS) and how this would improve accessibility of shared data. Members encouraged the IFS to have open and direct conversations with the ONS around data requirements to link survey and administrative data, and with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) around funding and improving sample size and quality.
  3. Members agreed that it was important to establish relationships and trust in advance across departments to ensure that key public statistics were being considered and data was being brought together on a timely basis.

3. Engagement to Increase the Inclusion of Traditionally Under-Represented Population Groups in ONS Data [NSEUAC(22)09]

  1. Lara Phelan, Head of ONS Outreach and Engagement introduced a paper setting out the approach to engaging traditionally underrepresented groups, barriers that had been recognised, and the use of engagement channels that were being used to build dialogue and trust with users. The ONS Assembly was also looking at further engagement opportunities for the ONS.
  2. Members discussed relationships with user groups and how audiences could be broadened by using social media channels such as Instagram, and neighbourhood forums. The Inclusive Data Task Force assisted with considering people outside of private households, such as those in nursing homes, or shared flats, and a lot of work was happening in the ONS to identify the hidden homeless. It was important for the work being done to be transparent and it was agreed that information about the ONS Assembly should be added to the ONS website.
  3. Members agreed that there was a lot of qualitative research happening to identify unknown users and traditionally underrepresented groups and understand lived experiences but there was still work to be done. The difference between represented and representative groups should be considered and the ONS should continue to talk to people to feed into discussions.

4. Integrated Data Service [NSEUAC(22)10]

  1. Alison Pritchard provided a progress update on the Integrated Data Service (IDS). The IDS would be fully cloud native which would future proof the legacy environment. Every data asset on the IDS should be linkable by analysts through the Research Data Management Forum. Digital Economy Act accreditation was expected by March 2023. Alison was joined by Mat Weldon who provided a demonstration of the IDS to members.
  2. Members supported progress on the IDS and discussed how the IDS alone would not fix government challenges around departments choosing to share data. The approach would be data driven and building the correct data model required the appropriate meta data. The ONS was already working hard to answer important government questions at pace and data sets were continually updated. The vision was that the IDS would answer bite sized queries on government data almost instantly.

5. Insights from the Office for Statistics Regulation [NSEUAC(22)11]

  1. Anna Price, Head of Casework at the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) provided insights from the OSR and summarised findings from the recent OSR review of the statistical system. OSR were currently in the planning process for 2023/24 and members of NSEUAC would be welcomed to provide feedback in the coming weeks on areas of focus and how to engage users to develop the OSR business plan.
  2. Members discussed whether the use of official statistics was improving. OSR casework had increased in recent years, indicating that more people were aware of the OSR and where to go to highlight concerns, which therefore enhanced trustworthiness and people challenging misuse of statistics.
  3. Members agreed that it was important to step back to assess strengths and weaknesses of measures in place by looking at public statistics to answer issues and questions. ONS data would continue to be published in the public domain at the same time it was made available to minsters, unless there were quality assessment reasons, where agreement to delay would be authorised by the OSR. Members were encouraged to adopt the standards of the Code for Statistics where relevant. Members welcomed all attempts to improve public engagement around the misuse of statistics and suggested podcasts and blogs to engage with younger audiences.

6. Forward Agenda

  1. Members had provided a list of suggested ideas for future agenda items and names for suggested external speakers which the Chair would review with Secretariat to agree a forward agenda, exploring all areas of the community. The Chair would discuss suggestions with members out of committee. The Chair requested a report at the next committee meeting to assess the impact of discussions at NSEUAC to learn what the committee was doing well and areas that could be improved.
  2. Heather Joshi and Lucinda Platt were suggested as future external speakers.

7. Any other business

  1. The next meeting would take place on Thursday 9 March 2023.