Time Item Details
5 mins
Minutes and matters arising from previous meetings
Declarations of interest
Meeting of 29 February 2024
10 mins
Report from the Authority Chair Oral update
Sir Robert Chote
30 mins
Report from the Chief Executive
• Census 2023 - Future of Population and Migration Statistics
Prof. Sir Ian Diamond
20 mins
Report from the Director General for Regulation
• OSR Business Plan
Ed Humpherson
10 mins
Report from Committee Chair
• Audit and Risk Assurance Committee
Oral update
Dr Jacob Abboud
20 mins
25 mins
ONS Business Plan SA(24)14
Tom Taylor
Megan Cooper
30 mins
GSS Vision SA(24)15
Jane Naylor
Emma Rourke
Lucy Vickers
Victoria Obudulu
20 mins
Integrated Data Service SA(24)16
Jason Yaxley
10 mins
Any other business

Next meeting: 25 April 2024, London Boardroom

Members present

  • Sir Robert Chote (Chair)
  • Professor Sir John Aston
  • Professor Sir Ian Diamond
  • Ed Humpherson
  • Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter
  • Penny Young

Also in attendance

  • Robert Bumpstead
  • Sally Jones
  • Sarah Moore
  • Jane Naylor (for item 9)
  • Victoria Obudulu (for item 9)
  • Emma Rourke (for item 9)
  • Tom Taylor
  • Lucy Vickers (for item 9)
  • Jason Yaxley (for item 10)


  • Dr Jacob Abboud
  • Sian Jones
  • Nora Nanayakkara
  • Alison Pritchard
  • Professor Dame Carol Propper

1. Apologies

  1. Apologies were noted from Dr Jacob Abboud, Sian Jones, Alison Pritchard, Professor Carol Propper and Nora Nanayakkara.

2. Declarations of Interest

  1. There were no new declarations of interest.

3. Minutes and matters arising from previous meetings

  1. The minutes of the previous meeting held on 29 February were agreed.

4. Report from the Authority Chair

  1. Non-Executive Directors had met before the meeting. They had discussed topics including the current recruitment for Non-Executive Directors, the Chair’s departure from the Garrick Club, quoracy of the meeting and business planning, specifically in relation to the support provided for the Authority function. The Chair noted that the Board Authority function had been well supported by the Central Policy Secretariat and this support should continue. The Authority would be increasingly visible with the ownership of the Statistical Assembly, as set out in the Lievesley Review.
  2. The Chair noted that the meeting was inquorate. In accordance with the Authority Board Standing Order the meeting could continue in an advisory capacity with any decisions endorsed at the next meeting. As the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) Business Plans were due for publication ahead of the April Board it was agreed that they would be circulated for comment and final agreement in correspondence.
  3. The Chair reported on his recent activities since the Board last met. Sir Robert had met with Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Minister of State for the Cabinet Office, to discuss the Non-Executive Director appointment process, which had received a high level of interest. The Cabinet Office may extend the closing date for applications.
  4. The review by Professor Denise Lievesley and the government response had been published on 12 March. Prof. Lievesley had given evidence on the report to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee on the same day. The Board was scheduled to discuss the report and the Authority’s response at the May meeting. Work was already underway across OSR and ONS and including early discussions with the Royal Statistical Society to help shape the Statistical Assembly.
  5. On 20 March Sir Robert had met members of the new Board of Directors of the Somalia National Bureau of Statistics.
  6. Sir Robert on behalf of the Board paid warm tribute to Robert Bumpstead who had led the Secretariat since the creation of the Authority becoming the Chief of Staff in 2016. Rob had attended the majority of Board meetings, from the first to today’s meeting being his 168th. Rob had worked with four Authority Chairs and four National Statisticians and had been at the centre of the biggest decisions made by the Board. Sir Robert noted his personal thanks to Rob for the enormously valuable support and advice he had provided to him and the Board over the years. Rob was highly regarded by his Central Policy Secretariat team and across the organisation. Rob responded noting that it had been a pleasure to work with all Chairs and National Statisticians and with the Board, working across the four nations of the UK.

5. Report from the Chief Executive [SA(24)12]

  1. Sir Ian provided the Board with an overview of activity and issues since the last meeting, highlighting the following:
    1. phase one of hybrid working with colleagues spending 20 per cent of their time in the office from January to end of March 2024 with a move towards 40 percent on site working from April. Colleagues had been supported throughout the transition. Following agreement by the Senior Leadership Team additional flexibility would be provided for those who joined the organisation from 1 March 2020 with commute times of an hour or more.
    2. the year-end financial position was forecast to be a small under expenditure following careful management throughout the year by the finance team led by Tom Taylor alongside the Senior Leadership Team;
    3. business planning for 2024/25 was near completion with the draft ONS Business Plan scheduled for discussion at this meeting;
    4. progress towards the future of population and migration statistics recommendation would include a series of seminars by Professor Sir Ian Diamond across the four nations. The aim was to share the draft recommendation for comment with Board members before Easter;
    5. the International Steering Group formed in May 2022 for Scotland’s Census 2022 had met for the last time on 14 March. The group had provided assurance, direction and support to National Records of Scotland in delivery of Scotland’s Census.
    6. Sir Ian was scheduled to meet a number of Ministers in the coming months including Scotland’s Deputy First Minister and the Minister of State for Trade Policy in the Department for Business and Trade.
    7. as part of the Ambitious, Radical, Inclusive Economic Statistics Programme transformed rents statistics had been published and incorporated into headline measures of consumer price inflation;
    8. progress of work with the Department of Health and Social Care to reform death certification was ongoing;
    9. work was ongoing in response to the recommendations in the Lievesley Review, which included a recommendation to agree a Memorandum of Understanding with Eurostat; and
    10. the work by the National Statistician’s Committee for Advice on Standards for Economic Statistics.
  2. Members discussed the update and looked forward to engaging with the work in response to the Lievesley Review, particularly the development of the Statistical Assembly where Board members noted their desire to be involved from the outset.

6. Report from the Director General for Regulation [SA(24)13]

  1. Ed Humpherson provided an update on regulation activity, highlighting that OSR’s guidance on collecting and reporting data about sex and gender identity in official statistics had been published on 29 February and had been well received. Following the publication of the Lievesley Review, an action plan setting out OSR’s response to the report would be discussed at the April Regulation Committee meeting.
  2. OSR had published a review of Labour Force Survey derived Labour Market Statistics on 21 March, which highlighted the need for improved communication by ONS regarding its approach to transitioning from the Labour Force Survey to the Transformed Labour Force Survey.
  3. OSR’s draft business plan and budget 2024/25 had been considered and endorsed by Regulation Committee. The baseline budget remained at £3.4 million with a small ringfenced contingency in place for this year only, should the General Election pose an increase in demand for regulatory intervention beyond OSR’s current capacity.
  4. Members discussed the draft plan. With regard to OSR’s approach to election planning OSR were producing a series of topic notes across a range of public interest areas. It was noted that ahead of the General Election Sir Robert Chote would write to the leaders of all UK political parties reminding them of their duty to use statistics accurately and fairly in the election campaign, and the consequences of not meeting the required expectations.
  5. Sir Ian noted that as part of OSR’s work on the future of population and migration statistics ONS would welcome a review of internal migration.
  6. Board members endorsed the draft business plan, subject to comment and approval in correspondence by members not in attendance.

7. Report on the Audit Risk and Assurance Committee

  1. On behalf of Dr Jacob Abboud Sir Robert reported on the work of the Audit Risk and Assurance Committee which had last met on 14 March 2024.
  2. The Committee had considered:
    1. the financial position of the organisation as a result of the controls put in place throughout the year, with a small under expenditure forecast for year-end;
    2. confirmation by HM Treasury of the Supplementary Estimate and submission of the Main Estimate;
    3. business and financial planning for 2024/25;
    4. an update on the strategic risk profile with a focus on areas of challenge and an improvement in the maturity of risk discussions across the executive governance framework;
    5. a risk deep dive on legacy transformation;
    6. Internal Audit Reports on Cloud Technology, Data Science Campus and Business Survey Transformation;
    7. delivery of the Internal Audit Plan 2023/24;
    8. the draft Internal Audit Plan 2024/25; and
    9. the annual update on Whistleblowing and Speaking Up policies.

8. ONS Business Plan [SA(24)14]

  1. Tom Taylor and Megan Cooper introduced the final draft of the ONS Business Plan 2024/25. The overall approach to business planning had focussed on horizontal planning for ONS’s highest priority output area within a constrained financial environment.
  2. Board members discussed the draft business plan. The following points were considered in discussion:
    1. the narrative could be strengthened to sufficiently reflect the degree of challenge and degree of transformation across the organisation;
    2. the focus on the most important outputs, which were the foundation of ONS’s license to operate as a National Statistics Institute.
    3. the need to reference the Lievesley Review, noting that the ONS would act on all recommendations; and
    4. the inclusion of further detail about access to data across government.
  3. Board members endorsed the draft business plan, subject to comment and final approval in correspondence by members not in attendance.

9. GSS Vision [SA(24)15]

  1. Jane Naylor and Lucy Vickers introduced a paper which provided an update on work to develop a Government Statistics Service (GSS) Vision and Strategic Delivery Plan. The GSS Heads of Profession for Statistics (HoPs) had been working collaboratively to develop a GSS Vision and Strategic Delivery Plan. The plan focused on four areas: Coordination and cooperation, capability, standards and transformation. It was noted that the Lievesley Review, which had been published following the drafting of this paper, would be considered as part of the development of both the Vison and Plan.
  2. The Board heard that the National Statistics Executive Group (NSEG) had discussed the development of the plan. An initial discussion had also been held with the Royal Statistical Society on a range of issues that would need to be addressed including: the scope of the statistics profession; ensuring an inclusive and diverse profession; the impact of available tools and engagement with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Large Language Models; and an emphasis on statisticians being communicators. It was noted that a first draft of the GSS Vision and Strategic Delivery Plan was scheduled for discussion by NSEG in June.
  3. Board members discussed the approach to the development of a GSS Vision. The following points were made in discussion:
    1. the strength and value the GSS brings when dealing with challenging issues in a collaborative way;
    2. the future of the GSS starting from a point of strength with challenging and exciting times ahead including the use of new tools such as AI;
    3. the draft plan could perhaps emphasise the challenges ahead, such as communication, and administrative data methodology;
    4. further collaboration across the professions including data scientists, with work already ongoing in this area;
    5. the strength of the GSS in relation to data sharing across departments to help inform policy questions;
    6. the movement of statisticians across the public and private sector and the need for retention within the GSS; and
    7. the creation of a new role – Deputy Head of the GSS, to strengthen the GSS and support the Sir Ian as Head of the GSS.
  4. The Board noted the update and would remain engaged as the work developed.

10. Integrated Data Service [SA(24)16]

  1. Jason Yaxley introduced a paper which provided an update on the progress of the Integrated Data Service.
  2. The Board heard that areas of focus going forward included the transition of the Secure Research Service to the IDS, increasing the user base, improvement in cross government data sharing, Digital Economy Act re-accreditation in September 2024 and accreditation for data processing later in the year.
  3. Board members discussed the update. The following points were considered in discussion:
    1. the longer term focus in changing the culture around data sharing across government with a link to the previous discussion on GSS collaboration across government in relation to data sharing;
    2. the use of the IDS to support a rapid response to policy making, with work at a very early stage to support rapid analysis underpinned by simpler data sharing principles. This linked to the work by the Office for Statistics Regulation on the evolution of the five safes mode of data access;
    3. the recent event by the Secure Research Service (SRS) team for current SRS users to discuss the transition to the IDS. Progress was being made to address tooling issues; and
    4. the need to be able to calibrate the key performance indicators with delivery of the programme. Currently there were 15 live projects on the platform, users had increased to 124 and 97 datasets on the platform.
  4. The Board noted the update.

11. Any other business

  1. The Board would next meet on 25 April.

The papers that informed this board meeting are attached as a PDF document for transparency. If you would like an accessible version of the attached papers, please contact us at authority.enquiries@statistics.gov.uk