5 mins
Minutes and matters arising from previous meetings
Declarations of interest
Meeting of 25 March 2021
10 mins
Report from the Authority Chair Oral report
Sir David Norgrove
20 mins
Report from the Chief Executive SA(21)22
Prof. Sir Ian Diamond
10 mins
Report from Committee Chair
• Regulation Committee
Oral report
Prof. Anne Trefethen
15 mins
Strategy Update SA(21)24
Nick Bateson
Robert Bumpstead
10 mins
Break 10 mins
25 mins
Presentation: Estimating education and healthcare for GDP during the pandemic Philip Wales
15 min
Interventions Policy SA(21)25
Mary Gregory
25 mins
COVID-19 Infection Survey and Surveillance Studies SA(21)26
Iain Bell
Emma Rourke
15 mins
Census and Data Collection Transformation Programme SA(21)27
Iain Bell
Nicola Tyson-Payne
20 mins
Presentation: Central Government coordination of Digital and Data Alison Pritchard
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)
  • Alison Pritchard
  • Emma Rourke (for item 11)
  • Nicola Tyson-Payne (for item 12)
  • Philip Wales (for item 13)
  • 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 March were agreed.

4. Report from the Authority Chair

  1. Non-executive directors had met prior to the Board meeting. They had discussed the format of remote meetings.
  2. The Chair reported on his recent activity since the Board last met highlighting that the Non-executive director recruitment process was ongoing, with interviews scheduled the following week. On 13 April Sir David and Professor Sir Ian Diamond had met the Minister for Constitution and Devolution regarding coherence of statistics. Sir David had attended the Regulation Committee on 15 April.
  3. The Chair noted that the Authority Board Register of Interests had been published on the Authority website, and noted thanks to members.

5. Report from the Chief Executive [SA(21)22]

  1. Sir Ian provided the Board with an overview of activity and issues since the last meeting, highlighting the following:
    1. Sir Ian had given a presentation at the Alan Turing Institute on 7 April regarding the role of National Statistical Institutes during a pandemic, which had been well attended;
    2. the importance of evaluation in government and the need for clear evaluation plans to underpin Spending Review proposals;
    3. the work by ONS to support levelling up through the development of strong analysis;
    4. the work to develop the Analytical Function in response to the functional reform agenda to create a sense of ‘one function’ across the professions; and
    5. the findings of the review of enabling functions, which had been presented to Directors on 6 April and would be shared with all staff on 12 May. It was noted the implementation of recommendations would support the preparations for the next Spending Review.
  2. Sir Ian noted his thanks to Jonathan Athow for his leadership on the work around hybrid working. The reconfiguration of the working environment to support collaborative and hybrid working and technological solutions were being considered as part of the preparations for a return to the office.

6. Report from the Director General for Regulation [SA(21)23]

  1. Ed Humpherson provided an update on regulation activity highlighting the presentation he had given at the Analysis Function Board on 27 April. It was acknowledged that the Code of Practice (CoP) for Statistics and the Office for Statistics Regulation could support analysis more broadly, with specific examples including OSR’s work on Reproducible Analytical Pipelines and the Exams Review. In addition, the principles of the CoP could be applied to the presentation and publication of quantitative analysis in the public domain.
  2. With regard to OSR’s role in levelling up, it was noted that OSR’s programme of work supported it through its focus on regional economic performance and improved granularity of statistics.
  3. The Board heard that 2020/21 had been a record year for the level of casework for with three times the usual volume processed by the team, predominantly as a result of COVID-19 related enquires. A review of 9.30 release times was ongoing.
  4. The Board approved the OSR Business Plan.

7. Report from the Chair of the Regulation Committee

  1. Professor Anne Trefethen reported on the Regulation Committee which had met on 15 April.
  2. Committee members had considered:
    1. the review of population estimates, and projections produced by ONS;
    2. the draft Authority Interventions Policy;
    3. a draft report of the systemic review of Income-based Poverty Statistics; and
    4. the final report regarding ONS Productivity statistics.
  3. The Committee had also received a presentation from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) following a quality review of HMRC’s official statistics in 2020 by OSR.
  4. The Committee had approved OSR’s Business Plan and programme of work.

8. Strategy Update [SA(21)24]

  1. Robert Bumpstead and Nick Bateson introduced a paper which provided an update of progress of the Authority Strategy, ‘Statistics for the Public Good’. The statistical system’s response to the pandemic had shown its strengths and radically altered ways of working. The delivery of staff throughout the period of remote working had been outstanding and underpinned by an inclusive culture based on trust and flexibility.
  2. There had been a number of significant achievements in the last quarter, notably a successful Census collection with a return rate which continued to well exceed expectations. The Integrated Data Programme Full Business Case had been submitted to HM Treasury and the COVID-19 Infection Survey (CIS) continued to be a key source of data for government throughout the pandemic.
  3. The Board heard about the forthcoming opportunities, which included planning for the 2021 Spending Review, and evolving the workplace for a hybrid working environment.

9. Presentation: Estimating education and healthcare for Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

  1. Philip Wales presented on the approach by the ONS in estimating education and healthcare output for GDP during the pandemic. The Board heard about the impact of the pandemic on public services in the UK and internationally and the impact for ONS’s measurement of the public sector in GDP.
  2. The Board noted their thanks for an excellent presentation.

10. Interventions Policy [SA(21)25]

  1. Ed Humpherson introduced a paper which provided an update on the Authority Interventions Policy, following a draft to the Board in November 2020 and review by Regulation Committee at its recent meeting. The policy had been updated to provide clarity and reflect current practices.
  2. Board members discussed the draft policy and approved it subject to a small number of drafting amendments.

11. COVID-19 Infection Survey and Surveillance Studies [SA(21)26]

  1. Iain Bell and Emma Rourke introduced a paper which provided an update on the COVID-19 Infection Survey programme.
  2. The survey had maintained performance, with swab testing targets consistently being met across the UK. The Board heard that discussions had been held with officials across government regarding the medium-term focus of population health surveillance.

12. Census and Data Collection Transformation Programme [SA(21)27]

  1. Iain Bell and Nicola Tyson-Payne introduced a paper which provided an update on progress on Census delivery and wider transformation.
  2. Iain Bell reported that the Census collection had met all targets with the day of this meeting (29 April)  being the last day of the full field force operation. The preparations continued for the Census Coverage Survey and Non Compliance operation, which were on track for delivery as planned.
  3. The Board heard that ONS continued to work with National Records Scotland ahead of Scotland’s Census in 2022. The Authority Audit and Risk Assurance Committee would be updated on progress on processing and outputs dissemination. With regard to wider transformation, the approach to moving surveys online had been refreshed with a phased plan in place for business surveys. The introduction of telephone as a mode of collection alongside the electronic questionnaire for the Labour Market Survey was on course.
  4. Board members welcomed the update and noted the progress.

13. Presentation: Central Government coordination of Digital and Data

  1. Alison Pritchard presented on central government’s coordination of digital and data with a focus on ONS’s role and link to the Integrated Data Programme.
  2. The Board noted their thanks for an excellent presentation.

14. Any other business

  1. The Authority Board would meet next on 7 June 2021 by videoconference.