|Integrated Data Service||SA(23)52|
|Stephanie Howarth, Chief Statistician Welsh Government||Stephanie Howarth|
|Minutes and matters arising from previous meetings|
Declarations of interest
|Meeting of 27 July 2023|
|Report from the Authority Chair||SA(23)53|
Sir Robert Chote
|Report from the Chief Executive||SA(23)54|
Prof. Sir Ian Diamond
|Report from the Office for Statistics Regulation||SA(23)55|
|Report from Sub Committees |
• Audit and Risk Assurance Committee
• Regulation Committee
|Retail Price Index and Next Steps on Prices||SA(23)56|
Dame Kate Barker
|Consultation on the future of population and migration statistics in England and Wales||SA(23)57|
|Any other business|
Next meeting: 26 October 2023
UK Statistics Authority
- Sir Robert Chote (Chair)
- Dr Jacob Abboud
- Professor Sir John Aston
- Professor Sir Ian Diamond
- Alison Pritchard (for item 1)
- Nora Nanayakkara
- Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter
- Penny Young
Also in attendance
- Dame Kate Barker (for item 8)
- Robert Bumpstead
- Matthew Corder (for item 8)
- Mike Hardie (for item 8)
- Stephanie Howarth (for item 2)
- Sally-Ann Jones (Secretariat)
- Rob Kent-Smith
- Mike Keoghan (for item 8)
- Sarah Moore
- Emma Rourke (for item 9)
- Ruth Studley (for item 9)
- Rhys Thomas
- Jason Yaxley (for item 1)
- Jason Zawadzki (for item 8)
- Ed Humpherson
- Sian Jones
- Professor Dame Carol Propper
- Tom Taylor
1. Integrated Data Service [SA(23)52]
- Alison Pritchard and Jason Yaxley provided the Authority Board with an update on the Integrated Data Programme, responsible for the delivery of the Integrated Data Service (IDS).
- The Board heard that at the Research and Accreditation Panel (RAP) meeting on 14 September the Integrated Data Service had achieved Trusted Research Environment accreditation under the Digital Economy Act (DEA) 2017. The programme would continue to work with the RAP on progressing the IDS to the next stage of accreditation as a Data Processor. The next IPA Gateway Review would be undertaken in October aligning with further business case discussions with HM Treasury.
- Following discussions with the Economic and Social Research Council, Administrative Data Research UK and other external research bodies, it had been agreed that there would be a period of further dual running of the Secure Research Service (SRS) beyond March 2024. A triage process had been introduced that considers new applications to the SRS to determine whether it could be serviced by the IDS. Discussions were ongoing with Stata, about the feasibility of implementing a cloud-native version that could be implemented in the IDS. The number of data assets on the IDS continued to increase with up to 89 by the end of October.
- Board members discussed the update and commended the team on DEA accreditation. The following points were considered in discussion:
- the future of the programme following DEA accreditation to realise the full potential of the IDS, moving from a minimal viable product to growing the service to provide the ability to use data across departmental boundaries;
- progress on data sets including the work with Departmental Directors of Analysis in areas where linked data could enhance public policy; and the work being led by the Chief Data and Digital Office on the identification of Essential Shared Data Assets as referenced in Mission three of the Digital and Data Strategy;
- the need for a timeline for transition of the SRS to the IDS, with the new triage process helping determine which SRS users should transition sooner; and
- work on a tooling strategy for the IDS with a number of online analysis tools such as Stata.
- The Board noted the update and would continue to remain engaged as the work progressed.
2. Stephanie Howarth, Chief Statistician, Welsh Government
- Stephanie Howarth provided an update on statistics in Welsh Government and Wales. The statistical function within Welsh Governance is mainly centralised with close working with other analytical professions, policy makers and Ministers; and collaborative relationships with other statistical producers, including ONS. The priorities and ways of working of the statistical function within Welsh Government align with the strategy, Statistics for the Public Good. The partnership with Administrative Data Research Wales provides the opportunity to maximise data for public good research. The IDS was being used to understand the difference the statistics for Welsh language speakers including, specifically the disparity between the Annual Population Survey and Census data.
- The Board heard that the Wellbeing of Wales 2023 Report had been published that morning. The report looks at how people and places in Wales are changing, reporting against statutory wellbeing indicators in areas such as cost of living, climate change and the environment.
- Board members welcomed the update and noted their thanks for an excellent presentation. With regard to the ongoing ONS consultation on the future of population and migration statistics it was noted that a formal response would be provided by Welsh Government. In relation to harmonisation of data across the Union the aim was to bring coherence to statistics from the outset.
- Apologies were noted from Ed Humpherson, Sian Jones, Professor Dame Carol Propper, and Tom Taylor.
4. Declarations of Interest
- There were no declarations of interest.
5. Minutes and matters arising from previous meetings
- The minutes of the meeting held on 27 July were agreed.
6. Report from the Authority Chair [SA(23)53]
- Non-Executive Directors had met prior to the Board meeting. They had discussed the senior level structure of the organisation.
- Sir Robert Chote had attended the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) International Conference early September, which included Professor Sir Ian Diamond’s keynote address; and an introductory meeting with the new RSS Chief Executive, Sarah Cumbers, and RSS President, Andrew Garrett to discuss the review of the Authority by Professor Denise Lievesley.
- On 14 September, Sir Robert and Ed Humpherson had met with Lord Murray, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Migration and Borders regarding a number of regulatory casework issues relating to Home Office statistics and their use in the public debate.
7. Report from the Chief Executive [SA(23)54]
- Sir Ian provided the Board with an overview of activity and issues since the last meeting, highlighting the following:
- the successful DEA accreditation of the IDS by the Research Accreditation Panel on 14 September;
- the annual revisions of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) published on 1 September, as part of Blue Book 2023, which prompted substantial media coverage due to the upward revision;
- progress of work across the organisation on the communication of statistical outputs from a social, economic and political perspective. Statistical outputs on migration and gender identity were planned in the coming months. The newly formed Statistical Outputs Group would ensure that a co-ordinated approach is undertaken to the publication of statistical outputs;
- Sir Ian had met the Chief Coroner of England and Wales to discuss the coronary process regarding data on excess deaths;
- progress of the work by the ONS and HM Treasury on the review of measurements of public sector productivity;
- as part of the work to support the Analysis Function, a cross government Artificial Intelligence (AI) Steering Group was being launched with Sir Ian and Dame Angela McLean as co-Chairs;
- with regard to inclusion and diversity female representation within the Office for National Statistics Senior Civil Service had exceeded the target of 45 per cent. Average working days lost through sickness absence was higher amongst females. A deep dive was ongoing to understand the underpinning reasons, with the view to putting in place a policy to provide the right level of support;
- the Executive Committee was considering options for the delivery of the Crime Survey for England and Wales from April 2024;
- progress of ONS’s research into gender identity data from the Census 2021. ONS published a statement in June and August informing users of the further research being undertaken. The outcome of the review by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) of Census gender identity was ongoing.
- the approach by Sir Ian and the Senior Leadership Team in managing the financial position across the organisation to ensure a balanced budget at year end;
- the launch of the new Winter COVID-19 Infection study scheduled for 2 October, which would run from November 2023 to March 2024.
- Board members discussed the update and commended National Records Scotland on the publication of the first results of Scotland’s Census on 14 September. The work by both ONS and OSR on gender identity relating to the Census 2021 data was discussed. Members highlighted the importance of communications by ONS and the need to publish a timetable on statistics in this area. ONS had published a statement on 30 August providing an update on research, and a letter had been published in the Daily Telegraph on 28 September from Jennet Woolford, Director of Population Statistics. It was noted that the Regulation Committee, at its meeting on 5 September, had also highlighted the need for ONS to publish a timetable of additional analysis as quickly as possible.
- Board members discussed a number of the strategic risks, following discussion by the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee in September. SR6, Communications strategic risk had moved outside of appetite with mitigating actions being put in place to address the risks in relation to the website and transparency of communications more generally. With regard to SR3, Statistical Quality Sir Ian assured the Board that quality continued to be a key focus across the organisation and remained within appetite.
8. Report from the Director-General for Regulation [SA(23)55]
- Rob Kent-Smith provided an update on regulation activity. OSR had confirmed National Statistics designation for Scotland’s Census 2022.
- The Board heard that following a request from ONS to review its estimates of UK GDP, the OSR had launched their review, which would consider quality assurance, improvements through enhanced access to wider data, and communication of uncertainty and revisions in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics. It was acknowledged that revisions were an inevitable part of producing timely and accurate estimates of GDP.
- The review of the Code of Practice for Statistics had been launched at an event on 13 September, with over 280 attendees. On 26 September over 160 attendees had attended an event on Maintaining Quality Data. An event was scheduled on 18 October on Data Ethics and AI.
- With regard to casework OSR had met the Deputy Chair of London responsible for Transport for London (TFL) to discuss a number of casework concerns mainly related to the Ultra Low Emission Zone. Board members discussed the response by OSR to TFL, as a voluntary adopter of the Code.
9. Consumer Prices [SA(23)56]
- Mike Keoghan, Matthew Corder and Mike Hardie introduced a paper which set out ONS’s proposed approach to addressing key issues within the wider consumer prices landscape in relation to the Retail Prices Index (RPI). Dame Kate Barker, Chair of the Stakeholder Advisory Panel on Consumer Prices joined the Board meeting for this item.
- The ONS has a legal obligation to produce the RPI. ONS’s current policy is to address the shortcomings in the RPI in full at the earliest and legal and practical opportunity (in February 2030) by bringing the methods and data sources from the National Statistic and ONS’s lead measure of inflation, the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupier housing costs (CPIH), into the RPI. Following the 2020 decision, some parties sought a Judicial Review of the decisions. The review found in the ONS and Government’s favour.
- The Board heard that as work on consumer prices transformation had progressed it had become clear that there was a degree of conflict between ensuring changes to RPI were limited, and maintaining the quality of the suite of consumer price statistics. It was noted that to enable existing data sources and methods to be continued to be used in the RPI would require significant investment in legacy systems that were no longer being used for CPI and CPIH, and would mean that the RPI would not benefit from the work on transformation. ONS proposed allowing methods and data improvements from the prices transformation to feed into the RPI where they did not substantially affect those significant shortcomings of the RPI that ONS was not able to address before 2030. The Board heard that the proposal aligned with legal advice, had been agreed by the National Statistician; and was consistent the previous decisions of the Chancellor.
- Sir Robert thanked Dame Kate Barker for joining the meeting. Dame Kate noted her thanks to the ONS team for the high level of support provided to her as Chair of the Stakeholder Prices Panel noting that both the stakeholder and technical panel had been effective. Dame Kate noted her support for the proposed approach by ONS regarding changes to the RPI.
- Board members discussed the update. The following points were considered in discussion:
- the timing of the proposal related to the treatment of RPI as part of the ongoing wider transformation and quality of the suite of prices statistics. It did not impact on the previously agreed timing of 2030 to address the fundamental shortcomings of the RPI, and there was no recommendation to revisit the 2030 decision;
- the significant cost implications of not making these marginal changes to the RPI at this point, would require investment in legacy systems that were no longer being used for CPI and CPIH. This approach would conflict with the ONS’s general strategy of reducing reliance on legacy systems;
- the importance of engaging a sufficient range of views from statistical users in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics. Some stakeholder engagement had been undertaken with further user engagement planned in December as part of the impact analysis of the proposed changes; and
- in line with the statutory process the proposal would need to be reviewed by the Bank of England to determine whether the changes were fundamental and materially detrimental to relevant bondholders.
- The Board endorsed the proposed approach by ONS. The Board noted their thanks to Dame Kate Barker for attending the meeting and in her role as Chair of the Stakeholder Advisory Panel on Consumer Prices.
10. Consultation on the future of population and migration statistics in England and Wales [SA(23)57]
- Ruth Studley introduced a paper which provided an update on the consultation of the future of population and migration statistics in England and Wales, following the launch on 29 June.
- The Board heard that over 200 consultation responses had been received to date with the majority being individual responses. A high level of engagement had been undertaken since April including internal and external roundtables, webinars, and over 100 other engagement activities including meetings and conferences. A number of themes had been identified in the responses with support for administrative data as the core of population and migration statistics to produce more frequent and timely data; the need for more granularity in terms of geography and availability of protected characteristics with feedback regarding the loss of granular ethnicity and religion data; and the use of a multi-source estimation model. An analysis plan was in place and further stakeholder engagement would be undertaken.
- The Board welcomed the update and would remain engaged as the work progresses.
11. Report from the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee
- John Aston reported on the work of the Audit and Risk Assuring Committee which had last met on 14 September.
- The Committee had considered:
- the financial position of the organisation, with a high level of assurance provided on the approach being taken to achieve a balanced budget at year end;
- progress implementing the risk and assurance framework, and an update on the strategic risk profile;
- the provision and model of the Internal Audit function;
- delivery and timing of the Internal Audit programme of assurance 2023/24;
- an Internal Audit Report on Planning and Portfolio Management; and
- the independent security health check report.
- The Committee had endorsed the recommendation by the Risk and Assurance team that the Public Health Monitoring Strategic Risk, SR10 was no longer a strategic risk, which the Board agreed.
12. Report from the Chair of the Regulation Committee
- Penny Young reported on the work of the Regulation Committee which had last met on 5 September.
- The Committee had considered and agreed OSR’s proposal that outputs from Scotland’s Census 2022 should be designated as National Statistics.
13. Any other business
- Sir Ian informed the Board of the very sad news about Laura Lean, who had passed away. Laura had worked as Assistant Private Secretary to Sir Ian during 2021 and 2022, and had been a highly valued colleague in Private Office and across ONS.
- The Board would next meet on 26 October.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org