Members Present

  • Professor Anne Trefethen (Chair)
  • Helen Boaden
  • Richard Dobbs
  • Professor Jonathan Haskel
  • Ed Humpherson
  • Sir David Norgrove
  • Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter

Other Attendees

  • Nisha Bunting (for item 7)
  • Emily Carless (for item 7)
  • Mary Gregory
  • Harlan Matthews (shadowing)
  • Marie McGhee (for item 5)
    Mark Pont
  • Gail Rankin
  • Job de Roij (for item 6)
  • David Ross (for item 6)


  • Lauren Bradley
  • Sally-Ann Jones


  • None

Declarations of Interest

  • None

1. Apologies, minutes and matters arising

  1. Members were welcomed to the meeting. The minutes of the meeting on 15 July were agreed, and actions were reviewed. Members commended the excellent work on transformation of the Model Guidance.

2. Overview from the Director General for Regulation

  1. Ed Humpherson introduced his update, highlighting the publication of the Annual Casework Report on 30 September. The COVID-19 Lesson Learned Report had been published on 7 October, and the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) had held a public event on 13 October to discuss the report. It was noted that the Regulatory Services update formed part of the paper to provide the Committee with a comprehensive picture of regulatory activity.
  2. The Committee heard about the areas of focus for OSR since the last meeting. The consultation for the review of release times had been launched on 28 September. The work on the refresh of the National Statistics designation was progressing and scheduled for substantive discussion later in the meeting. It was acknowledged that OSR had secured an increase in its public profile for its work in recent months. With regard to casework while the volume had decreased, the casework was more complex and required in-depth analysis.
  3. The Committee welcomed the draft assessment report on Northern Ireland Broad Economy Sales and Exports Statistics and highlighted the importance of producers publishing data in a timelier fashion. The report was agreed for publication subject to feedback from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) and sign off from the Director General for Regulation. Members agreed the proposal to designate Northern Ireland Personal Independence Payment Statistics as National Statistics (NS).

3. Transparency

  1. Mary Gregory presented a paper outlining OSR’s plans for a campaign around transparency in Winter/Spring 2021/22. It was noted that OSR’s relationship with Heads of Profession (HoPs) had improved throughout the pandemic.
  2. Members discussed options around releasing a statement on transparency and the need to track progress over time. It was agreed that the committee would receive an update in 2022.

4. National Statistics Designation Review Update

  1. Ed Humpherson presented an update on the progress of the NS Designation review, with a proposal to simplify the designation process by independently verifying statistics to ensure they comply with the Code of Practice.
  2. Members discussed the findings from the sessions held with producers and stakeholders, which had been published in June, and highlighted the need to maintain the strength of de-designation processes.
  3. Members commended the progress made. The steering group would provide recommendations to the Committee in December for consideration ahead of providing a paper to the Authority Board.

5. Censuses in England and Wales and Northern Ireland Assessment

  1. Marie McGhee presented draft reports of OSR’s assessments of the 2021 Census in England and Wales by the ONS and the 2021 Census in Northern Ireland by NISRA.
  2. Members discussed the draft reports and agreed to their publication once comments from the ONS and NISRA had been considered, and subject to sign off of changes by the Director General for Regulation. It was noted that the Census was due to be discussed at the December meeting of the Authority Board.

6. Climate Change Systemic Review

  1. Job de Roij presented a draft report of the systemic review of UK climate change statistics, with a focus on greenhouse gasses, accessibility and coherence. Job highlighted that there was ongoing engagement on climate change with the ONS.
  2. Members suggested that OSR should consider where it would be appropriate to reflect a greater sense of urgency in the report; and clarify that the report was about more than greenhouse gases; and a need for linkage between the environment, transport and finance. Members also highlighted the need for an engagement plan to address user engagement issues.
  3. Members endorsed the report and agreed publication in November. It was noted that there would be further engagement following the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

7. Children and Young People Systemic Review

  1. Gail Rankin provided an update on the work OSR had been doing around the children and young people systemic review, noting that the aim of the review was to state publicly whether the statistical system was sufficiently alive to issues faced by children and young people across all topic areas and to encourage improvement where needed.
  2. Members discussed the need to speak to children through engagement groups ahead of publishing. Members also suggested considering children’s views on parental issues and the autonomy of vaccinations.
  3. Members noted that there was no clear ownership and agreed that the review would return to the committee in 2022.

8. Strategic Business Plan and Regulatory Work Plan Progress Review

  1. Mary Gregory presented an update on OSR’s five-year strategy; an update on progress against the priorities for 2021/22; and a roadmap for developing the annual business plan.
  2. Members heard that there had been good progress and the work was on track to reach a March 2022 target of level one, with ongoing conversations around a higher-level capability piece. It was noted that planning was underway for the 2022/23 Business Plan.
  3. Members agreed that the plan-on-a-page update would become a regular addition to the Regulatory Dashboard which would be presented to the committee as part of the Regulatory Services update.

9. Risk Management

  1. Mary Gregory presented an update on risk management, noting the improvement during the past six months, with risk mitigating actions in place.
  2. During discussion it was noted that there was a risk of over quantification and members suggested a workshop on radical ambitions. Members commended the refinement of the risk register.

10. Forward Look

  1. Lauren Bradley opened a discussion on the forward agenda for Regulation Committee meetings for 2021 and 2022.
  2. Members were content with the provisional forward agenda and suggested a wider discussion on COVID-19 Lessons Learned; economic statistics; user engagement; the education and literacy of data and statistics; and a paper on the current cross cutting issues.

11. Any Other Business

  1. Members acknowledged the importance of extracting the right lessons learned around data and public accessibility, with a need for data to be shared widely to better inform decisions.
  2. There was no further business. The Committee would meet next on Thursday 9 December at 13:00.