2021/22 Plan – Key Milestones, Users, Benefits and Risks

Key Deliverables

The table below shows the key deliverables for this 2021/22 Strategic Business Plan refresh. See Key milestones timeline for this information presented as a timeline.

DateMilestoneProgramme / Directorate
May 2021Develop unified corporate systems innovation strategy and development prioritised roadmapCorporate Services Improvement Programme
June 2021Launch a multi-disciplinary analytical hub to respond with pace and flexibility to the priorities of our partners and stakeholders in Government and BeyondPublic Policy Analysis
September 2021Integrated Data Service for Government Consumers (Private Beta)Integrated Data Programme
September 2021Changes to meet international legislative requirements for Gross National Income implementedAmbitious, Radical and Inclusive Economic Statistics Programme
September 2021Publish the recommendations of the Inclusive Data TaskforcePublic Policy Analysis
October 2021Trade improvements implemented in ANA 2021Ambitious, Radical and Inclusive Economic Statistics Programme
October 2021GDP estimates using double deflation integrated in National AccountsAmbitious, Radical and Inclusive Economic Statistics Programme
December 2021Expand the multi-disciplinary cross ONS  analytical hub to 60 FTEPublic Policy Analysis
February 2022All code of practice requirements met to enable National Statistics Accreditation of 2021 Census OutputsCensus and Data Collection Transformation Programme
March 2022All required census data processing and statistical quality assurance tasks completed to enable the recommendation to National Statistician to proceed with publication of initial findingsCensus and Data Collection Transformation Programme
March 2022Integrated Data Service for Accredited (Non-Gov) Consumers (Initial Operating Capability - Public Beta)Integrated Data Programme
March 2022Outputs of Census 2021 - first release of the high-level population estimatesCensus and Data Collection Transformation Programme
April 2022Move all business surveys onlineAmbitious, Radical and Inclusive Economic Statistics Programme
February 2023Alternative Data Sources used in the headline measure of CPI and CPIHAmbitious, Radical and Inclusive Economic Statistics Programme
March 2023Basic Integrated Data Service (Full Operating Capability) CompleteIntegrated Data Programme
June 2021Transformed Population and Migration Statistics System deliveredCensus and Data Collection Transformation Programme
December 2021Recommendation on the future approach to Census and Population StatisticsCensus and Data Collection Transformation Programme
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Putting users at the heart of our work helps us to identify opportunities to improve the quality and coverage of our statistics as well as build partnerships and collaboration to deliver Statistics for the Public Good. We engage with statistics producers, users and potential users, and other relevant organisations across governments, local and devolved administrations, third sector, academia, researchers, policy groups, media, international, commentators and citizens. As part of our commitment to inclusivity, we are continually looking to expand our engagement, to ensure we reach as wide a set of users as possible to fully reflect diverse needs.

Strategic Benefits

By delivering the Strategy (including against the four strategic drivers) and the Strategic Business Plan, we will realise wide-reaching benefits for the ONS, the GSS, wider Government and society. It is important to capture, manage and report these benefits appropriately.

There will be specific benefits realised at each of the different levels of the Plan, through delivery of Level 1 milestones, Accountability Framework Objectives (including the five main enabling programmes) and Strategic Objectives. These benefits then aggregate up to the seven strategic benefits below which are themselves aligned to the strategic drivers. These Strategic Benefits have been benchmarked against the high-level benefits of other National Statistics Institutes.


  • To strengthen the insight of public and policymakers through improved analysis of social and economic challenges which supports the design and evaluation of targeted policy and services.
  • To produce a more inclusive narrative on economic and social trends which the public and policymakers can trust and use for collaboration on policy development, evaluation and scrutiny.


  • To provide better quality, more accessible, timely and complete outputs, which drive decision-making by policymakers, scrutiny, and optimisation of public services reducing the costs and time for policymakers and the public to utilise.
  • To enhance the reputation of the UK’s statistical system with outputs satisfying quality requirements of the Code of Practise for Statistics, while adopting new methods and maintaining standards with more complex datasets of value to stakeholders.


  • To maintain / improve trust and accountability in ONS statistics by working with others to address issues for communities who feel underrepresented in data used for decision-making (including improving the trust of British citizens in the respect that our products and services accurately describe the country as it continues to change).
  • To improve the impact, productivity and diversity of the ONS by ensuring more staff feel the ONS is a great place to work, learn and innovate.


  • To continuously improve and Innovate our systems, technology and processes to drive efficiencies while meeting the changing requirements of the Government Statistical Service and Government Analysis Functions.

The 2022/23 refresh of the Strategic Business Plan will include standard benefit information such as baseline, targets, measurement methodology and realisation progress to improve measurement and the evaluation of progress.

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Strategic Risks

During 2020/21, a significant investment was made in developing risk maturity, enabling us to become smarter risk takers in the face of a changing risk profile.  Defining and working with our risk appetite, provides the flexibility to deliver against our ambitions, whilst maintaining the integrity of our core operating systems.

As we progress into 2021/22, the focus on quality risk management will continue to ensure that we reflect change across the external environment, and that we develop our assurance framework to support delivery. The following represent the key strategic risks to the delivery of this business plan:

Trust in Official Statistics, Data and AnalysisThe external environment including: the political perspective; scepticism of the role of statistics in society; competition in the production; and ability to manage the views of our stakeholders – impact on the perception of the statistics system to society.

This is mitigated by developing our understanding of the needs of key stakeholders, research and development programmes, development of the ONS website and reviewing the National Statistics classification system.
Inclusivity of approachWe have a responsibility to reflect society in everything that we do and ensure that the UK’s evidence base reflects all characteristics of society. There is a risk that our presentation of the economy and society is not sufficiently reflective of the UK.

This is mitigated through our approach to collecting and bringing together inclusive data, the inclusivity of the Census in 2021 refresh of our economic statistics and Inclusive Data Taskforce.
ResourcesThe success of the strategy is dependent on our ability to attract the support of Parliament and the centre of government to obtain sufficient funding to deliver our ambitions. There is a risk that we are unable to secure sufficient financial backing to deliver the full scope of our activities.

Current mitigations include our preparation for the Spending Review, efficiency programme, internal structure review and budget approvals.
PeopleThe ability to attract, retain and develop an inclusive, motivated, and flexible workforce with the right capability is key to the delivery of the strategy.

Key mitigations include the development of the pay business case, People Strategy, and Location Strategy.
Keeping pace with the needs of societyAs we continue to deliver against the UK’s evolving society and economy in the context of our statistics, analysis, and data, it is critical that we can identify and respond to priorities at pace. If we do not act with agility, there is a risk that the relevance of our information diminishes, and we are unable to maintain and improve the organisation’s profile and value.

This is mitigated through effective internal governance, demand management pipeline, business development, and building a flexible analytical resource.
Delivering and Communicating QualityChanges to the scope, nature and approach in the production of key statistics as a result of the use of wider data sources, streamlining of our statistical processes and the lessons from our cross-cutting approach to analysis; there is a need to maintain confidence in the statistical system and perception of its value .

This is mitigated through our quality assurance framework, work of the Quality Committee and the Analysis and Evaluation Committee, in addition to engagement with the academic community and continued research and development.
Failure of CensusThere is the failure of the Census, to deliver population estimates and wider analysis of UK society in 2021 to meet the expectations of key stakeholders.

This is mitigated by our stakeholder engagement plan, internal and external assurance programmes and ensuring we have in place administrative data to support a parallel run alongside the Census 2021.
Data BreachIn order to deliver the strategy, we need to increase our access to data from administrative and survey sources. There is a risk that a major data or security breach in the ONS, or across the wider society, risks undermining confidence in our ability to manage data, and government support for our approach.

This is mitigated by our security strategy, developing a security culture, replacing legacy technology, and ensuing security by design.
Covid-19 Organisational ImpactThe Covid-19 outbreak has significantly increased the demand for data and analysis to provide the insight needed to manage the pandemic and support government decision making. It has also led to significant business disruption.

We have mechanisms in place to assess and prioritise new and existing demand through the internal governance and stakeholder engagement across Parliament and wider government.

The wellbeing of staff has and continues to be supported throughout the pandemic to ensure continued delivery.
Collaboration across governmentThe cross-cutting elements of the Strategy depend on collaboration across the GSS and Analysis Function. There is a risk that we are unable to establish a collaborative model and associated governance within ONS, GSS and Analysis Function, which will impact on our ability to deliver the cross-cutting analysis elements of the strategy.

This is mitigated through the engagement across government, developing the Integrated Data Platform and coherence programmes across the GSS.
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