- Professor Anne Trefethen (Chair)
- Helen Boaden
- Richard Dobbs
- Professor Jonathan Haskel
- Ed Humpherson
- Sir David Norgrove
- Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter
- Penny Babb (for item 6)
- Elise Baseley (for item 7)
- Chris Davies (for item 5)
- Mary Gregory
- Marie McGhee (for item 7)
- Mark Pont
- Gail Rankin
- William Richardson (shadowing)
- Siobhan Tuohy-Smith (for item 7)
- Lauren Bradley
- Sally-Ann Jones
Declarations of Interest
1. Apologies, minutes and matters arising
- Members were welcomed to the meeting. The minutes of the meeting on 14 October were agreed, and actions were reviewed. Members were invited to volunteer to participate in the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) Development Programme.
2. Overview from the Director General for Regulation
- Ed Humpherson introduced his update, noting the range of strategic items on the agenda reflecting the breadth of work by OSR. OSR’s work on mental health in Northern Ireland would be completed and form part of OSR’s domain as the work on business planning progressed.
- Members heard that the most high-profile casework since the last meeting had related to vaccination statistics with OSR working with the UK Health Security Agency and the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The volume of complex casework had increased, and efforts were underway to improve overall response times. A new insight function was being set up with OSR considering how as a statistical regulator they interact with the broader landscape including work on algorithms. Work was also underway to gauge how uncertainty in statistical outputs was measured by producers.
- At this point in the meeting Ed Humpherson recused himself for the update provided by Gail Rankin on the ongoing Transport Accessibility Systemic Review, which reinforced the recommendations from the Inclusive Data Taskforce Report.
- The Committee approved the draft assessment reports on statutory homelessness in England statistics; and pay in the Northern Ireland Civil Service. Members agreed the proposal to designate general pharmaceutical services statistics as National Statistics (NS). It was noted that the systemic review on food statistics would be deferred until mid-2022.
3. Levers and Mechanics of Change
- Ed Humpherson presented a paper outlining the ways in which the OSR secures impact through regulatory work or interventions that ensure or enhance statistics are serving the public good. It was noted that various areas of insight had informed the work.
- Members heard about the plans by OSR to develop horizon scanning and highlighted the need for OSR to further strengthen networks and to track areas that had not delivered the desired impact.
- The Committee welcomed the paper and discussed options around circulating the paper more widely given its value.
4. Business Planning and Budget
- Mary Gregory updated the Committee on OSR’s early thinking around priorities for 2022/23 and outlined the proposals for the budget.
- Members heard that there were a range of high-level topics that would be prioritised in 2022/23 and that there would be an increased focus on economic statistics in February. It was noted that there was a need to ensure an appropriate level of engagement across all priority areas.
- Members agreed the proposed budget. It was noted that a detailed workplan would be presented to the Committee in February 2022.
5. Post-Brexit ONS Economic Classifications
- Chris Davies presented an update on the ONS progress against introducing new arrangements for external scrutiny and assurance of economic statistics and economic classifications. The paper also provided and update on OSR’s role in developing this work. It was noted that the team were content with OSR’s role and position of the work and were prepared to take a wider role if necessary.
- Members endorsed the paper. It was noted that the discussion on the International Monetary Fund proposal was ongoing.
6. National Statistics Designation Review Recommendations
- Penny Babb presented a paper outlining the proposals for the future presentation and application of the National Statistics designation. Penny highlighted that there was ongoing engagement with Heads of Profession. It was noted that a key focus was on compliance with the Code of Practice.
- Members suggested that further testing was needed around the statement confirming statistics as independently reviewed, to avoid confusion with independently regulated statistics; agreed the value of providing star ratings once rigorously tested; and raised concerns around why certain statistics had not undergone NS designation. Members also highlighted a need for the process to be clear for all audiences.
- Members endorsed the report and agreed the recommendation to begin an implementation project to refocus the designation process. A paper would be provided for the Authority Board in January 2022.
7. Population Estimates
- Elise Baseley presented a paper setting out concerns around how the population was measured and the impact population estimates had on the wider statistical system.
- Members discussed the issues at length, recognising the wider importance of population statistics and highlighted their concerns around administrative data gaps. With regard to the work by ONS on the future of the census there was a need for further user engagement. It was noted that there had been ongoing conversations with the ONS on the uncertainty around the publication timing of population estimates in 2022.
- Members agreed the proposed approach by OSR. ONS colleagues would be invited to the February 2022 Regulation Committee meeting to provide a presentation on the work by ONS on population statistics.
8. Any Other Business
- Members were content with arrangements for the Transport Accessibility systemic review to be published in January 2022, following further stakeholder engagement.
- There was no further business. The Committee would meet next on Thursday 10 February at 13:00.