Members were welcomed to the meeting and apologies were received from Helen Boaden. The minutes of the meeting on 10 February were agreed, and actions were reviewed. The Chair welcomed Sian Jones to the meeting as interim Chair of the UK Statistics Authority.
2. Presentation on Population Statistics
Jennet Woolford, interim director for transformation for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) joined the meeting to deliver a presentation on the work by ONS on population and migration statistics.
Members heard that a focus was on ensuring the work facilitated UK wide coherence with the development of a clear roadmap for the delivery of census outputs and of population and migration statistics.
The Committee welcomed the presentation. Members agreed the value of involving local authorities in the census quality assurance process. It was noted that the ONS would be able to finalise the timeline for delivery following completion of the quality assurance process.
3. Update on Regulatory Work Concerning Population and Migration Statistics
Siobhan Tuohy-Smith introduced a paper which provided an update on the work streams the ONS had in place to measure population. It was noted that there had been good engagement by OSR with the ONS and that OSR’s concerns were being managed.
Members discussed the need to manage potential further delays and highlighted the need for effective user engagement.
The Committee noted the paper and agreed that an update on progress would be provided to members in July.
4. Overview from the Director General for Regulation
Ed Humpherson provided an update on regulation activity since the last meeting, noting that a key focus was on the reporting of poverty statistics by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Mary Gregory noted that OSR’s contribution to the Authority’s Annual Report and Accounts 2021/22 would be shared with members by correspondence in May.
The Committee approved the draft assessment reports on country and regional public sector finance statistics, and Northern Ireland family practitioner services statistics. Members also confirmed the proposal to designate employment and jobs statistics and productivity statistics as National Statistics.
5. 2021 Censuses in England and Wales and Northern Ireland Assessment
Marie McGhee joined the meeting to update members on the actions in place for the ONS and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency to meet the requirements of OSR’s assessments of the 2021 Censuses in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. Members were also updated on the Census in Scotland.
During discussion members noted the benefits and risks of local authority consultation in the quality assurance process and the need for evidence around the occupation of second homes. Members also noted the need to ensure the transparency of guidance.
The Committee agreed the approach for finalising the National Statistics designation for Census outputs.
6. Annual Business Plan and Regulatory Programme
Mary Gregory presented the near final business plan for 2022/23 and updated members on the rolling regulatory work programme, reflecting on feedback from the Authority Board meeting on 31 March. It was noted that the cost of living had been added and that feedback on quality issues had been considered.
During discussion members considered ways to build on impact and the different areas OSR would explore if additional resources were available. Members also discussed ways to undertake horizon scanning and the need for a renewed focus on improving data literacy amongst Special Advisers.
Members approved the annual business plan and regulatory work programme.
7. Analytical Leadership Update
Oliver Fox-Tatum joined the meeting to present an update on the proposed approach and priorities for OSR’s work on Analytical Leadership and outlined the timings, key milestones and associated risks. Ed Humpherson noted that the work aimed to ensure analysts had a voice.
During discussion members noted the need to ensure the right levers were in place to implement the plans. Members also noted the need to minimise the risk of burdens and the need to be clear on what a product was before regulating and leading on it.
Members welcomed the work by OSR on Analytical Leadership.
8. OSR Risk Management
Mary Gregory introduced a paper outlining OSR’s risk profile and set out how the team were managing the risks. It was noted that there was a focus on ensuring opinions were represented in the right way and on maintaining credibility.
Members noted the need to ensure the timings of engagements were right. Members also discussed risks around interventions and noted the need to ensure the expansion of risks was managed.
Members noted the paper.
9. OSR’s Approach to Horizon Scanning
Mary Gregory introduced a paper outlining OSR’s approach to horizon scanning, with a focus on the information OSR aimed to gather, why the information was valuable, how the information would be gathered and how it would be used.
Members discussed the need to ensure the network was in the right place before planning the intricacies of how it worked and the need to address critical bottlenecks.
Members endorsed the paper and agreed that future meetings would include five minutes to discuss Horizon Scanning.
10. Any Other Business
The Committee heard that the Annual Review of Effectiveness would be circulated to members in May.
The Committee would meet next on Thursday 07 July at 13:00.