|Minutes and matters arising from previous meetings
Declarations of interest
|Meeting of 28 September 2023
|Report from the Authority Chair
Sir Robert Chote
|Report from the Chief Executive
Prof. Sir Ian Diamond
|Report from the Director General for Regulation
|Report from Committee Chair
• Regulation Committee
|Integrated Data Service
|Any other business
Next meeting: 30 November 2023
UK Statistics Authority
- Sir Robert Chote (Chair)
- Professor Sir John Aston
- Professor Sir Ian Diamond
- Ed Humpherson
- Sian Jones
- Nora Nanayakkara
- Alison Pritchard
- Professor Dame Carol Propper
- Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter
- Penny Young
Also in attendance
- Rob Bumpstead
- Sally Jones
- Sarah Moore
- Emma Rourke (for item 9)
- Ruth Studley (for item 9)
- Tom Taylor
- Jennet Woolford (for item 9)
- Jason Yaxley (for item 8)
- Dr Jacob Abboud
- Apologies were noted from Dr Jacob Abboud.
2. Declarations of Interest
- There were no new declarations of interest.
3. Minutes and matters arising from previous meetings
- The minutes of the previous meeting held on 28 September were agreed.
4. Report from the Authority Chair [SA(23)58]
- Non-Executive Directors had met prior to the Board meeting. They had discussed external communications by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) regarding the latest publication of labour market statistics.
- On 11 October Sir Robert Chote had taken part in the Civil Service Live One Big Thing event at the Newport office. The event had been hosted by Professor Sir Ian Diamond and speakers including Simon Case, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service, Alex Chisolm, Civil Service Chief Operating Officer and Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office and Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation and members of the ONS Executive.
- On 17 October Sir Robert alongside Ed Humpherson had met Jayne Brady, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service and Philip Wales, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.
- Sir Robert and Sir Ian had visited the National Situation Centre (SitCen) on 20 October.
5. Report from the Chief Executive [SA(23)59]
- Sir Ian provided the Board with an overview of activity and issues since the last meeting, highlighting the following:
- Sir Ian’s attendance on 10 October at the Covid-19 Inquiry, covering the role of the Authority during the pandemic;
- ONS’s role in partnership with SitCen including support in the event of a major crisis;
- the next publication of migration statistics scheduled for November;
- the statement made on 20 October by Andrew Bridgen, Member of Parliament, in the House of Commons, with reference to the calculation of excess deaths and excess deaths and Covid-19 vaccination statistics by ONS;
- progress of the work by the expert working group in developing a single cross-government method for assessing excess mortality and improvements to coronial data, with a paper scheduled for the November Board meeting;
- progress of the Public Service Productivity Review by ONS and HM Treasury (HMT) working in collaboration with other government departments to help develop and improve methodology and data sources;
- ONS engagement regarding Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the AI Safety Summit being hosted by the UK early November;
- the Civil Service People Survey had closed on 23 October. An update on ONS’s results would be provided at the December Board meeting;
- the approach by Sir Ian and the Senior Leadership Team in managing the financial position with mitigating actions and controls in place to ensure a balanced budget at year end. The area of funding uncertainty was in relation to the Future of Population and Migration Statistics business case, which had been submitted to HMT for consideration; and
- the Winter Covid-19 Infection Study, funded by the UK Health Security Agency, would start collecting data on Covid-19 Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test positivity at the beginning of November;
- Sir Ian provided a comprehensive update regarding ONS’s approach to the production of labour market statistics, specifically the recent publication that had been planned for 17 October. The Board heard that the declining response rate of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) had complicated the production of some of the indicators. In line with ONS’s commitment to statistical quality, on 13 October ONS had announced a partial rescheduling of the UK labour market statistics publication from 17 to 24 October. Subsequently on 23 October ONS had announced that the LFS would not be published. Instead ONS had published a new series using additional data sources to produce adjusted levels and rates for employment, unemployment and inactivity for the two three-monthly periods, May to July 2023 and June to August 2023.
- Sir Ian and Darren Morgan, Director of Economic Statistics, had met with colleagues from HM Treasury, the Bank of England and the Office for Budget Responsibility immediately prior to this meeting to discuss ONS’s plans to address the current LFS issues. ONS had transferred resources to the LFS and had immediately re-introduced face to face interviewing. Discussions would continue with HMT to ensure there were no unintended consequences of diverting resources. The expectation was that the next publication of the LFS would be in December. The dual running of the LFS and the Transformed Labour Force Survey (TLFS) would continue with discussions by the Executive scheduled early next year regarding the timing for the full transition to the TLFS.
- Board members discussed the update. The following points were considered in discussion:
- the regular updates to the Board on the delivery of the Ambitious Radical Inclusive Economic Statistics programme had set out the work by ONS to improve the quality of labour market statistics as part of the transformation of the LFS and the parallel running with the TLFS, which had been extended by six months. However, members had not been made aware of the extent to which the LFS response rate had fallen recently;
- the role of the Board in providing the right level of support for Sir Ian and the Executive in dealing with challenging live issues, in addition to their role in providing oversight and challenge;
- a proposal to introduce an issues log of areas of work members would like to retain a watching brief including such topics as the LFS and the ongoing review by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) in relation to Police Recorded Crime; and
- the opportunity for Sir Ian to brief members directly on his areas of concern, in addition to his regular bilateral meetings with Sir Robert.
- The Board noted the update and the work on excess deaths methodology and improvements to coronial data. A further paper on excess mortality was scheduled for the November Board meeting. The Board agreed to the introduction of an issues log.
6. Report from the Director-General for Regulation [SA(23)60]
- Ed Humpherson provided an update on regulation activity. OSR had launched a review of the Code of Practice for Statistics with a call for evidence ongoing until 11 December and a range of stakeholder events planned. Areas of casework included a case related to the 20 miles per hour speed limit in Wales.
- The Board heard that following ONS’s decision to replace its planned LFS derived labour market statistics with a new series using additional data sources, OSR would undertake a short review of the statistics against the Code of Practice for Statistics.
7. Report from the Chair of the Regulation Committee
- The Chair reported on the work of the Regulation Committee which had last met on 12 October. Ahead of the main meeting Penny Babb and Sarah Henry presented a discussion item on the quality assurance of published data.
- The Committee had considered:
- progress of OSR’s gender identity programme of work, including the update of OSR’s existing guidance on collecting and reporting data about sex in official statistics, which was being extended to include gender identity;
- emerging findings from OSR’s rapid review of revisions to Gross Domestic Product estimates produced by ONS;
- an interim report on ONS’s transformation of labour market statistics and the TLFS;
- emerging findings from OSRs quality assessment of ONS’s Profitability of UK Companies and Gross Operating Surplus of non-financial corporations statistics;
- emerging findings from OSR’s review of the quality of police recorded crime statistics; and
- OSR’s policy and approach for cancelling or suspending accreditation of official statistics.
- The Board noted the update.
8. Integrated Data Service [SA(23)61]
- Alison Pritchard and Jason Yaxley provided the Authority Board with an update on the Integrated Data Programme, responsible for delivery of the IDS.
- The Board heard that that the areas of focus for the programme going forward included increasing the maturity of the IDS; improving the service through user feedback; increasing user numbers and data available on the service; and piloting transformational capabilities.
- The IPA Gateway Review undertaken early October confirmed an amber delivery confidence. The report highlighted areas of good practice and areas that required urgent attention, which included clearly articulating the strategic vision for the IDS and the programme end state for March 2025. The full business case refresh was due for submission to HMT on 31 October, although funding was secured until the end of the programme.
- Board members discussed the update. The following points were considered in discussion:
- the need to clearly articulate the vision for the IDS and ONS’s accountability in terms of delivery;
- the importance of engagement across government to realise the vision of the IDS, specifically the identification of Essential Shared Data Assets across all departments as part of the Digital and Data Strategy; and the work by the Central Digital and Data Office in developing the Data Marketplace;
- ONS working in collaboration with the Cabinet Office to improve data governance to support data sharing across government.
- The Board noted the update and would continue to remain engaged as the work progressed.
9. Census 2023 [SA(23)62]
- Jennet Woolford and Ruth Studley provided the Authority Board with an update on the summary of published research, upcoming publications and plans for further research that demonstrates ONS’s ability to deliver more frequent and timely statistics on the population of England and Wales.
- The Board heard that throughout the consultation period extensive user engagement had been undertaken, working in collaboration with Local Authorities including Manchester City Council. It was noted that initial feedback from users was supportive of using administrative data to provide more timely and frequent statistics, albeit there had also been concern around the stability of data flows, data quality and the granularity that could be provided going forward. User engagement would continue regarding the technical and statistical challenges and to ensure user needs were met.
- Board members discussed the update. Members highlighted the need to understand the long term funding risks of the future of population and migration statistics and the ability of ONS to provide accurate population data given the reliance on departments continuing to share data. There were potential issues around inclusivity of data in hard to reach groups.
- The Board would remain engaged as the work progressed. As part of the NED Programme of Activities a session was scheduled on 21 November ahead of a further paper to the Board in November.
10. Any Other Business
- The Board noted the amendment to the Official Statistics (Wales) Order 2017 as approved by Sir Ian.
- The Board would next meet on 30 November.
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 email@example.com