Item Number Item Details Item Notes
5 mins
Minutes and matters arising from previous meetings
Declarations of interest
Meeting of 25 February 2021
10 mins

Report from the Authority Chair Oral report
Sir David Norgrove
20 mins

Report from the Chief Executive SA(21)15
Prof. Sir Ian Diamond

15 mins

Report from the Director-General for Regulation SA(21)16
Ed Humpherson

5 mins

Report from Committee Chair
• Audit and Risk Assurance Committee
Oral report
Nora Nanayakkara

20 mins

Integrated Data Programme SA(21)17
Alison Pritchard
10 mins
Break 10 mins
20 mins

ONS International Development SA(21)18
Rob Bumpstead
Emily Poskett

25 mins

ONS Partnership with Turing Louisa Nolan
Darren Morgan

20 mins

COVID-19 Infection Survey and Surveillance Studies SA(21)19
Iain Bell
Emma Rourke

15 mins

Census and Data Collection Transformation Programme SA(21)20
Iain Bell
Nicola Tyson-Payne

10 mins

Business Plan update

Nick Bateson
5 mins
Any Other Business


UK Statistics Authority

  • Sir David Norgrove (Chair)
  • Sian Jones (Deputy 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 10)
  • Louisa Nolan (for item10)
  • Emily Poskett (for item 9)
  • Alison Pritchard
  • Emma Rourke (for item 11)
  • Nicola Tyson-Payne (for item 12)
  • Amy Williams (Secretariat)


  • None

1 – Apologies

  1. There were no apologies received.

2 – 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.

3 – Minutes and matters arising from previous meeting

  1. The minutes of the previous meeting held on 25 February were agreed.

4 – Report from the Authority Chair

  1. Non-executive directors had met prior to the Board meeting. They had discussed the Census.
  2. The Chair reported on his recent activity since the Board last met:
    1. on 26 February Sir David had joined an all staff Census call with Professor Sir Ian Diamond, Iain Bell and Nicola Tyson-Payne;
    2. on 24 March Sir David had met the Office for Statistics (OSR) health domain team regarding the health statistical landscape; and
    3. the report by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee on Government transparency and accountability during COVID-19 had been published.
  3. The Board noted that former National Statistician, John Pullinger, had been appointed as the new Chair of the Electoral Commission.

5 – Report from the Chief Executive [SA(21)15]

  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 with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on lessons learned from the pandemic. This linked to the work with different health organisations on the development of a public health data asset;
    2. Owen Brace, as Director of Communications, was engaging with the review of the Government Communications Service.
    3. a number of releases on COVID-19 statistical release scheduled for publication early in April, regarding the prevalence of ongoing symptoms following coronavirus infection and vaccine hesitancy; and
    4. the publication on 23 March of experimental analysis on ‘Coronavirus and the impact on payroll employment’.
  2. Sir Ian informed the Board of an error in the February 2021 Public Sector Finances release. Following publication of the release on 19 March, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) had identified an issue with their tax receipts statistics publication. HMRC were currently investigating the issue and expected to provide corrected data to ONS in time for the Public Sector Finances release on 25 May.

6 – Report from the Director General for Regulation [SA(21)16]

  1. Ed Humpherson provided an update on regulation activity highlighting that following a meeting with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, NHS England had started to publish more data on COVID-19 vaccinations. OSR were continuing to liaise with NHS England regarding gaps in the data, for example the need for more granular data on ethnicity.
  2. OSR were in in the final stages of business planning for 2021/22. The Regulation Committee would consider the draft plan at its next meeting.

7- Report from the Chair of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee

  1. Nora Nanayakkara reported on the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee which had met on 11 March.
  2. Committee members had considered:
    1. the financial position for 2020/21and budget planning for 2021/22;
    2. a number of Internal Audit reports;
    3. the draft Internal Audit Programme of Assurance for 2021/22; and
    4. the development of the risk and assurance function.
  3. The Committee had received an update delivery on the quality assurance framework underpinning the statistical quality plan. The Committee commended the significant progress made by Jonathan Athow and the team in taking forward the quality plan.
  4. The Committee had heard that the review of enabling functions would support the Executive in considering how best to address cross-organisational accountability and responsibility.

8 – Integrated Data Programme [SA(21)17]

  1. Alison Pritchard introduced a paper which provided an update on progress of the Integrated Data Programme (IDP). The Infrastructure and Projects Authority had endorsed the IDP following a Gateway review in February. An action plan had been put in place to address the recommendations of the review. The IDP Full Business Case had been submitted to HM Treasury (25 March), following the approval by the IDP Programme Board on 24 March.
  2. The Board discussed the update and highlighted the importance of cross government senior stakeholder support.
  3. The Board would continue to remain engaged in the IDP as the work progressed.

9 – ONS International Development [SA(21)18]

  1. Robert Bumpstead and Emily Poskett introduced a paper which provided an update on ONS international development work. The work was funded by the UK’s Official Development Assistance budget, and aligned with broader UK international development objectives. The activities of the International Development team linked directly to the aims and objectives of the strategy, ‘Statistics for the Public Good’.
  2. The Board heard how the work of the team supported National Statistical Institutes (NSIs) in key partner countries to modernise, improving quality, availability, and impact of data. The areas in which ONS expertise were a particular strength included: technical assistance, strategic advice to develop data science capability and training and mentoring to develop strong statistical leadership.
  3. The Board welcomed the update and discussed whether there were any lessons learned from the impact of the pandemic on ways of working. The technology in place had enabled the team to continue to work remotely with NSIs, which provided the opportunity for engagement and training by a wider pool of experts within ONS, albeit time differences had the potential to be challenging.

10 – ONS Partnership with Turing

  1. Louisa Nolan and Darren Morgan gave a presentation on ONS’s partnership with the Turing Institute, which was due to launch in April for a two year period. The Board heard about the areas of focus for the programme which included: economic nowcasting; economic networks; and synthetic data. The partnership would provide the opportunity for shared learning and innovation.

11 – COVID-19 Infection Survey and Surveillance Studies [SA(21)19]

  1. Iain Bell and Emma Rourke introduced a paper which provided an update on the COVID-19 Infection Survey programme. The survey had maintained performance, with swab testing targets consistently being met, or exceeded across the UK. Following schools reopening the CIS team had launched round four of the schools infection survey.

12 – Census and Data Collection Transformation Programme [SA(21)20]

  1. Iain Bell and Nicola Tyson-Payne introduced a paper which provided an update on progress on Census delivery and a summary assessment of progress of the wider transformation.
  2. Iain Bell reported that the Census collection operation was progressing well with a higher than expected response rate at this point. The field operation had commenced on 23 March. Processing had begun on the Census electronic questionnaire response data with full statistical processing scheduled in September. The media coverage over the Census weekend had helped to raise awareness and overall had been positive. The Census Coverage Survey was on track to complete as planned.
  3. Board members commended the team on the Census collection operation.

13 – Business Plan Update [SA(21)21]

  1. Nick Bateson introduced a paper which provided the supporting narrative to explain progress in the delivery of the business plan at 28 February 2021.
  2. The business planning process was ongoing. The conclusion of the review of enabling functions would ensure the effective use of resources across the organisation to support the delivery of the strategy.

14 – Any other business

  1. The Authority Board would meet next on 29 April 2021 by videoconference.