Item NumberItem DetailsItem Notes
25 mins
Presentation from Stephanie Howarth, Chief Statistician, Welsh Government Stephanie Howarth
5 mins
Minutes and matters arising from previous meetings
Declarations of interest
Meeting of 28 January 2021
10 mins
Report from the Authority Chair Oral report
Sir David Norgrove
20 mins
Report from the Chief Executive SA(21)09
Prof. Sir Ian Diamond
10 mins
Report from the Director-General for Regulation SA(21)10
Ed Humpherson
5 mins
Report from Committee Chair
• Regulation Committee
Oral report
Prof. Anne Trefethen
15 mins
20 mins
Census and Data Collection Transformation Programme
Iain Bell
Nicola Tyson-Payne
25 mins
COVID-19 Infection Survey and Surveillance Studies SA(21)12
Iain Bell
Emma Rourke
20 mins
Economic Campus in the North of England SA(21)13
Darren Morgan
10 mins
Business Plan update SA(21)14
Nick Bateson

15 mins

Any Other Business

Next meeting: 25 March 2021, 10:30-14.00, via videoconference

Minutes – Thursday 28 January 2021


UK Statistics Authority

  • Sir David Norgrove (Chair)
  • Sam Beckett
  • Helen Boaden
  • Professor Sir Ian Diamond
  • Richard Dobbs
  • Professor David Hand
  • Professor Jonathan Haskel
  • Ed Humpherson
  • Nora Nanayakkara
  • Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter
  • Professor Anne Trefethen

Also in attendance:

  • Jonathan Athow
  • Nick Bateson
  • Iain Bell
  • Owen Brace
  • Robert Bumpstead
  • Sally-Ann Jones (Secretariat)
  • Darren Morgan (for item 11)
  • Alison Pritchard
  • Emma Rourke (for item 10)
  • Nicola Tyson-Payne (for item 9)
  • Amy Williams (Secretariat)


  • Sian Jones (Deputy Chair)

1.Presentation from the Chief Statistician, Welsh Government, Stephanie Howarth

  1.  Sir David welcome Stephanie Howarth and Kathryn Helliwell to the meeting.
  2. Stephanie Howarth presented on the challenges and priorities for Welsh Government in relation to statistics about Wales, which included the response to the pandemic, data sharing and maintaining a bilingual workforce. The Board heard about the Well-being of Wales publication, which measures progress towards national well-being goals. The Board also heard from Kathryn Helliwell on Administrative Data Research Wales and the use of administrative data for policy relevant research.
  3. The Board noted their thanks to Stephanie Howarth and Kathryn Helliwell for an excellent presentation.

2. Apologies

  1. Apologies were received from Sian Jones.

3. Declarations of interest

  1. Richard Dobbs had noted a conflict of interest regarding the COVID-19 Infection Survey agenda item in advance of the meeting.

4. Minutes and matters arising from previous meetings

  1. The minutes of the previous meeting held on 28 January 2021 were agreed.

5. Report from the Authority Chair

  1. Non-executive directors had met prior to the Board meeting. They had discussed the COVID-19 Infection Survey (CIS) statistics.
  2. The Chair reported on his recent activity since the Board last met:
    1. on 9 February Sir David and Professor Sir Ian Diamond had visited Ofqual and heard about their research;
    2. Sir David had responded to the letter of 2 February from William Wragg MP (Chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee) about the use of data and statistics in the last year;
    3. On 15 February Sir David had met Lord Jonathan Evans (Committee on Standards in Public Life) in relation to the Standards Matter Two review;
    4. Sir David had met with members of the Census team on 23 February; and
    5. Sir David had spoken to the Secretary of State for Health on 24 February regarding the publication of vaccine statistics.

6. Report from the Chief Executive [SA(21)09]

  1. Sir Ian provided the Board with an overview of activity and issues since the last meeting, highlighting the following:
    1. the work by ONS to provide statistics for the Government Roadmap published on 22 February;
    2. the work being led by Sam Becket and Jonathan Athow on hybrid working for staff in preparation for a return to the Office in due course;
    3. work with colleagues across different health organisations toward the development of a public health data asset was ongoing;
    4. the Goldacre Review into the use of health data for research and analysis, with Sir Ian invited to join the stakeholder group;
    5. the development of the full business case for the Integrated Data Programme and the ongoing Gateway Review by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority; and
    6. the Census 2021 sex question online guidance.
  2. Board members discussed the update and considered the need to understand the structural change in the weekly death statistics in relation to deaths that occurred at home. It was agreed that an update would be provided at the next meeting.

7. Report from the Director General for Regulation [SA(21)10]

  1. Ed Humpherson provided an update on regulation activity since the last meeting. The Board heard that OSR would be publishing its review of the approach to developing statistical models to award 2020 exam results on 2 March. The report set out lessons from the approaches taken to awarding exam grades in 2020.

8. Report from the Chair of the Regulation Committee

  1. Anne Trefethen reported on the Regulation Committee which had met on 11 February.
  2. Committee members had considered:
    1. OSR’s response to the pandemic including the introduction of rapid reviews of new statistical outputs and guidance for producers.
    2. the approach to business planning and development of OSR’s programme of work for 2021/22;
    3. OSR’s work associated with automation and Artificial Intelligence; and
    4. the emerging findings from the ongoing assessment of ONS Productivity statistics.
  3. The Committee had also received a presentation from the Department of Health and Social Care on its response to the pandemic.

9. Census and Data Collection Transformation Programme [SA(21)11]

    1. Iain Bell and Nicola Tyson-Payne introduced a paper which provided an update on the Census and Data Collection Transformation Programme.
    2. The Board heard that the national media campaign had been launched, with awareness of the Census also being raised through virtual engagement with local communities. The digital build for household and communal establishments was complete. The digital system had successfully been launched on 23 February without issue. ONS continued to support Adecco on the recruitment of the field force.
    3. It was noted that as planned Pete Benton would oversee the Census operation with Nicola Tyson-Payne focussing on the continuing development of census capacity for processing and outputs, the wider transformation, including the development of a new business register. The Census Coverage Survey was on track for delivery. Progress on the acquisition of administrative data continued to be a key focus. Work was ongoing in preparation for the evidence to inform the 2023 recommendation on the future of the Census.
    4. Board members discussed the update and commended the team for the progress made.

10. COVID-19 Infection Survey and Surveillance Studies [SA(21)12]

  1. Iain Bell and Emma Rourke introduced a paper which provided an update on the CIS programme.
  2. The Board heard that the swab testing targets were being met or exceeded. In the coming period, the CIS would transition to a new collection approach. This would enable the survey to have an increased role in vaccine monitoring, provide the ability to increase the volume of antibody testing, and provide an opportunity for efficiency savings.
  3. The Board discussed the update and would remain engaged in the long term strategic development of the programme.

11. Economic Campus in the North of England [SA(21)13]

  1. Darren Morgan introduced a paper which recommended that ONS make a commitment to have a small presence in the Economic Campus in the North of England. The commitment would be flexible until the location, and the size and make-up of other government departments were confirmed. It was noted that the proposal aligned with the principles of the strategy: Radical, Ambitious, Inclusive and Sustainable.
  2. Board members discussed the proposal noting the benefit of a wider talent pool. There was also an opportunity for ONS to develop a stronger regional network and analysis. Any perception of a risk to ONS’s independence was mitigated as ONS would be one of a number of departments; and no statistical production would be conducted at the campus.
  3. The Board endorsed the proposal to move onto the next stage.

12. Business Plan Update [SA(21)14]

  1. Nick Bateson introduced a paper which provided an update on the progress in the delivery of the business plan at 31 January 2021. The Portfolio and Investment Committee and the National Statistics Executive Group were overseeing the management action regarding the delivery of strategic objectives. It was noted that the work to refresh the business plan in the context of the spending review was on track for delivery with the outcomes of the review of enabling functions due to report late March.

13. Any other business

  1. It was noted that the Minister for Finance and Trefnyd, (Welsh Government) had written to Sir David to consult on the addition of Digital Health and Care Wales to the Official Statistics (Wales) Order 2021. The Board endorsed the addition.
  2. The Authority Board would meet next on 25 March 2021 by videoconference.