Members Present

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

Other Attendees

  • Penny Babb (for items 4 and 5)
  • Sarah Cobden (for item 8)
  • Mary Gregory
  • Mark Pont
  • Anna Price (for item 3 and shadowing)
  • Gail Rankin


  • 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 April were agreed, and actions were reviewed. The Committee welcomed Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter to his first meeting as a member of the Committee.

2. Overview from the Director General for Regulation

  1. Ed Humpherson introduced his update, which focused on Casework; Engagement; and an addition to the Senior Leadership Team. Ed noted that the work being done to build capability was coming to fruition and had eased the demand on teams.
  2. The Committee discussed the need for OSR to continue to support Heads of Profession; the draft proposal review of the UK Statistics Authority; and the position of various systemic reviews.

3. COVID-19 Lessons Learned

  1. Mary Gregory and Anna Price presented a paper outlining the early findings of the review of lessons learned for health and social care statistics during the COVID-19 pandemic. During discussion, members raised concerns around evaluation of the NHS COVID-19 app; and the framing of data, such as through National Statistics (NS) Designation.
  2. Members endorsed the report, noting the benefits of data linkage. It was agreed the committee would receive an update by correspondence in September.

4. National Statistics Designation Review Update

  1. Penny Babb presented an update on the progress of the NS Designation review. Penny noted that the aim was to signal compliance with the Code of Practice and to leverage improvements in practice.
  2. The Committee discussed the potential to apply temporary NS status to statistics in unforeseen circumstances, which would be regularly reviewed and the value of NS as a lever to drive change. Members suggested consideration of processes in other countries.
  3. Members agreed to formalise the Rapid Review processes and commended the work to date.

5. Review of Release Times

  1. Penny Babb presented an update on the progress of the 9:30 release time review. Members considered four options for release times and heard that there was a strong argument for standard release times and greater flexibility.
  2. Members discussed the options and supported the approach to retain a standard release time in the Code of Practice with provision for exceptions to be granted by the Director General for Regulation. An update on the proposed approach was scheduled for the Authority Board meeting on 29 July.

6. ONS Annual Economic Surveys and the Assessment of the Annual Business Survey

  1. Chris Davies and Mark Pont presented a draft report of the assessment of statistics from the Annual Business Survey (ABS), which drew a range of common findings across recent assessments of the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) structural economic surveys.
  2. Members were invited to comment on the draft assessment report; to approve arrangements for publication; and discuss a wider strategic push to the Office for National Statistics on its investment prioritisation and ambition to pursue new data sources.
  3. During discussion Members commended a good report, with concerns raised around the quality of the ABS data; overall functionality of the ABS; the need to build on the foundation of the report; and the need to prioritise resources for developing the ABS.

7. Assessment of Census 2021

  1. Mark Pont provided an update on the assessment of Censuses in the United Kingdom and noted the high response rate to the England and Wales Census.
  2. Members discussed the difficulties of the census measuring a point in time. It was agreed that ONS needed to be transparent on which topics measured in the Census could be distorted, and its plans to mitigate. Members commended the good work being done within the ONS.
  3. Concerns were raised around the guidance of the sex question, which remained a live question for the Census in Scotland which was due in 2022. OSR agreed to consider the concerns as part of its overall ongoing assessment work.
  4. A draft assessment report for the 2021 Censuses would return to the Committee in October.

8. Annual Review of Casework 2021

  1. Mary Gregory and Sarah Cobden presented a paper outlining the Annual Review of Casework. Members heard that there had been more casework during this reporting period than in previous years which had been handled efficiently. The team were keen to make the report accessible to a wider audience.
  2. Members noted that the increase in casework was interesting and welcomed the proposed approach for reporting.

9. Self-Review of Effectiveness

  1. Lauren Bradley presented the results of the Committee’s annual Self-Review of Effectiveness. Members were content with the feedback presented and highlighted the need for a strategic forward agenda for the Committee.

10. Any Other Business

  1. Five papers had been issued for comment by correspondence. Members had submitted written remarks in advance of the meeting and had no further comments on these papers.
  2. Members confirmed the National Statistics Designation for Benefit Statistics and agreed the assignment of National Statistics status to Police Funding Statistics. Members also approved arrangements for the publication of the Assessment of the General Pharmaceutical Service Statistics in England.
  3. There was no further business. The Committee would meet next on Thursday 14 October at 13:00.