|Minutes and matters arising from previous meetings|
Declarations of interest
|Meeting of 25 November 2021|
|Report from the Authority Chair||Oral report|
Sir David Norgrove
|Report from the Chief Executive||SA(22)01|
Prof. Sir Ian Diamond
|Report from the Director-General for Regulation||SA(22)02|
| Report from Committee Chairs|
• Audit and Risk Assurance Committee
• Regulation Committee
Prof. Anne Trefethen
|Integrated Data Service||Integrated Data Service SA(22)04|
|National Statistics Designation Review||SA(22)06|
|COVID-19 Infection Survey and Surveillance Studies||SA(22)07|
|Any Other Business|
UK Statistics Authority
- Sir David Norgrove (Chair)
- Sian Jones (Deputy Chair)
- Professor Sir John Aston
- Sam Beckett
- Helen Boaden
- Professor Sir Ian Diamond
- Richard Dobbs
- Ed Humpherson
- Nora Nanayakkara
- Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter
- Professor Anne Trefethen
Also in attendance
- Penny Babb (for item 10)
- Nick Bateson
- Owen Brace
- Robert Bumpstead
- Mike Keoghan (for items 9)
- Donna Leong (for item 9)
- Alison Pritchard
- Emma Rourke (for item 11)
- Professor Jonathan Haskel
- Apologies were received from Professor Jonathan Haskel.
2. Declarations of Interest
- There were no new declarations of interest.
3. Minutes and matters arising from previous meeting
- The minutes of the previous meeting held on 25 November were agreed.
4. Report from the Authority Chair
- Non-Executives had met prior to the Board meeting. They had discussed pre-release access.
- The Chair reported on his recent activities since the board last met highlighting:
- Sir David had written to the Secretary of State for Justice on 26 November regarding the disclosure of statistics before their official publication on 25 November;
- on 29 November Sir David alongside Professor Sir Ian Diamond and Sam Beckett had attended a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary and Alex Chisolm, Chief Operating Officer for the Civil Service, regarding the work by ONS throughout the pandemic; and
- Sir David had met Martin Weale, the newly appointed Chair of the National Statistician’s Committee for Advice on Standards for Economic Statistics.
- The Chair noted that the recently appointed Deputy National Statisticians, Pete Benton, Health Population and Methods and Mike Keoghan, Economic and Social Statistics, would attend Board meetings for specific agenda items relating to their directorates.
- The Chair noted the article in The Economist on 22 January, ‘Britain’s Office for National Statistics did well during the pandemic’, which reflected the work by ONS during the pandemic including the COVID-19 Infection Survey (CIS), Real Time Indicators and the Data Science Campus.
- It was agreed that the February Board meeting would be held in the Newport office, subject to easing of restrictions in Wales.
5. Report from the Chief Executive [SA(22)01]
- Sir Ian provided the Board with an overview of activity and issues since the last meeting, highlighting the following:
- the positive 2021 departmental People Survey results, maintaining the high level of engagement achieved in the previous year and remaining significantly higher than the Civil Service Average;
- the impact and expansion of the Policy Liaison Unit (PLU), which had been established in 2020 to help support the response to COVID-19 with high quality ONS data, insight and analysis;
- five ONS employees had been recognised for their contributions to statistics, public health and the census in the 2022 New Year’s Honours list: Alex Lambert, Will Marks, Owen Abbott and Henrie Brown were each awarded the OBE and Arron Maspero an MBE; and
- progress of work in relation to the labour market to understand the increase in the over 50 age demographic who were now not in employment.
- The Board heard that a blog by Pete Benton would be published on 28 January, setting out how this year, with new census outputs and new data sources the ONS would deliver richer and more timely insights of the population.
- The Board commended the ONS on their recent engagement on the topic of inflation and cost of living. The Board heard that the more detailed analysis of inflation, which had been suspended during the pandemic would be re-introduced.
- Board members discussed the response by ONS to the Freedom of Information request in relation to ONS statistics regarding covid deaths, and subsequent blog by James Tucker published on 26 January.
6. Report from the Director General for regulation [SA(22)02]
- Ed Humpherson provided an update on regulation activity highlighting the statement issued on 26 January: OSR welcomes ONS blog on Covid-19 deaths: to say only 17,000 people have died from Covid-19 is highly misleading. Ed Humpherson noted that it was an example of a producer of statistics stepping in to address the misuse of statistics in public debate.
- The Board heard that Ed Humpherson and Sir Ian had met the Auditor General for Scotland regarding Scottish Government data. A paper reporting on the progress of the National Statistics Designation Review was scheduled later in the meeting. Business planning for 2022/23 was ongoing with a draft plan scheduled for the March Board meeting. OSR’s 2021 People Survey results were positive with further information to be provided at the next meeting.
7. Strategy Update [SA(22)03]
- Robert Bumpstead and Nick Bateson introduced a paper which provided an update on progress against the delivery of the Authority strategy, Statistics for the Public Good.
- Delivery of the strategy was in its second year with work continuing at pace to deliver the key strategic objectives including amongst others: the provision of regular and timely data through the CIS; and the expansion of the PLU, a flexible agile resource which enabled ONS to enhance the nation’s evidence base. It was noted that the 2021 People Survey results reflected the continued high levels of staff engagement across the organisation.
- The Board heard that the business planning process was ongoing with a draft ONS Business Plan scheduled for the March Board meeting. The Board would be updated on the plans to celebrate the strategy on its second anniversary at a future meeting.
8. Integrated Data Service [SA(22)04]
- Alison Pritchard introduced a paper which provided an update on key elements of the Integrated Data Programme (IDP), highlighting that the IDP Board had agreed the delivery plan for 2022 with delivery on the initial Public Beta capability early summer 2022 and full accredited Public Beta in autumn 2022.
- The Board discussed the delivery plan. The Board heard of the approach to data access that was designed to enable quick and secure sharing and analysis of data across departmental boundaries.
- The Board would remain engaged in the delivery of the IDS as the work progressed.
9. ARIES Programme [SA(22)05]
- Donna Leong introduced a paper which provided an overview of the current position of the Ambitious Radical Inclusive Economic Statistics (ARIES) programme.
- The Board heard about progress made since the last update to the Board in September including work on the labour market, prices to incorporate new data sources, public sector finance and National Accounts.
- The Board would remain engaged with quarterly updates on progress of the ARIES programme.
10. National Statistics Designation Review [SA(22)06]
- Ed Humpherson and Penny Babb introduced a paper which presented proposals for the future presentation and application of the National Statistics (NS) designation.
- OSR had undertaken a review of National Statistics Designation, which began in autumn 2019. The process had included roundtable discussions with stakeholders, focus groups with members of the public and research of practices in other countries and regulators. A steering group of experts had been set up to provide challenge as the work developed.
- The Board heard that the Regulation Committee had agreed the recommended approach by OSR in its meeting in December 2021.
- The Board discussed the proposal and endorsed the recommended approach to emphasise the independent review of official statistics as serving the public good, and approved the recommendation for OSR to begin an implementation project. The Board commended Penny Babb (OSR) and Helen Boaden (Non-Executive Director) who had chaired the steering group.
11. COVID-19 Infection Survey [SA(22)07]
- Emma Rourke introduced a paper which provided an update on the CIS programme, highlighting that ONS surveillance studies continued to provide evidence to inform decision making during the rise of the Omicron variant. It was noted that ONS was in discussion with the UK Health Security Agency regarding the CIS beyond March.
12. Any other business
- The next meeting would take place on Thursday 24 February 2022.
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