Time Item Details
5 mins
Minutes and matters arising from previous meetings
Declarations of interest
Meeting of 25 January 2024
10 mins
Report from the Authority Chair SA(24)06
Sir Robert Chote
30 mins
Report from the Chief Executive SA(24)07
Prof. Sir Ian Diamond
10 mins
Report from the Director General for Regulation SA(24)08
Ed Humpherson
10 mins
Report from Committee Chair
• Regulation Committee
Oral update
Penny Young
20 mins
Strategic Risk Profile and Risk Appetite SA(24)09
Megan Cooper
Tom Taylor
5 mins
55 mins
Independent Review of the Authority by Prof. Denise Lievesley Oral update
Prof. Denise Lievesley
25 mins
Census 2023 – Future of Population and Migration Statistics SA(24)10
Emma Rourke
Ruth Studley
20 mins
ARIES Programme SA(24)11
Jason Zawadzki
Alex Lambert
Liz McKeown
5 mins
Any other business

Next meeting: 21 March 2024, Newport Boardroom

Members present

  • Sir Robert Chote (Chair)
  • Dr Jacob Abboud
  • Professor Sir John Aston
  • Professor Sir Ian Diamond
  • Ed Humpherson
  • Sian Jones
  • Nora Nanayakkara
  • Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter
  • Penny Young

Also in attendance

  • Robert Bumpstead
  • Megan Cooper (item 6)
  • Alex Lambert (item 9)
  • Prof. Denise Lievesley (item 7)
  • Liz McKeown (item 9)
  • Emma Rourke (item 8)
  • Ruth Studley (item 8)
  • Tom Taylor
  • Jason Zawadzki (item 9)


  • Alison Pritchard
  • Professor Dame Carol Propper

1. Apologies

  1. Apologies were noted from Alison Pritchard and Professor Dame Carol Propper.

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 25 January were agreed.

4. Report from the Authority Chair [SA(24)06]

  1. Non-Executive Directors had met prior to the Board meeting. They had discussed the appointment process for Non-Executive Directors, which had launched and would close on 27 March.
  2. 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. Alongside Professor Sir Ian Diamond, Sir Robert had met with Alex Chisolm, Chief Operating Officer for the Civil Service and Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office.

5. Report from the Chief Executive [SA(24)07]

  1. Sir Ian provided the Board with an overview of activity and issues since the last meeting, highlighting the following:
    1. a change to funding of the Analysis Function from ONS only funding to a subscription based model across departments;
    2. the appointment of Cat Little, the current Second Permanent Secretary at HM Treasury and Head of the Government Finance Function as the new Civil Service Chief Operating Officer and Permanent Secretary to the Cabinet Office, with effect from 2 April;
    3. the launch of the review of Data, Statistics and Research on Sex and Gender, being led by Professor Alice Sullivan of University College London, on 29 February, which ONS would engage with;
    4. the reintroduction of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) to Labour Market Statistics on 13 February;
    5. publication on 20 February of the change in methodology for estimating excess mortality in the UK;
    6. plans for a short review of ONS Crime statistics and preparation ahead of the forthcoming release of Crime statistics in England and Wales to ensure a clear narrative alongside the publication;
    7. Sir Ian’s attendance at the COVID-19 Inquiry on 29 February (ahead of this meeting);
    8. Sir Ian’s virtual attendance at the Conference of European Statisticians Bureau, which had discussed topics including migration, mobility and population; and
    9. the work by ONS with the UK Research Institute and the Economic and Social Research Council on data sharing;
  2. Sir Ian noted that Tom Taylor had transformed the approach to business planning across the organisation, which continued at pace with the aim of setting budgets by 1 April. In a continued constrained financial environment for 2024/25 the Senior Leadership Team were considering the key priorities for the organisation including funding of survey transformation.
  3. Members discussed the importance of stakeholder engagement as part of business planning and separately in relation to the transformation of the LFS. With regard to the website the Board heard that mitigating actions had been put in place to stabilise the website, with further work ongoing to produce a plan to address the longer term issues.
  4. The Board commended ONS on the approach to the recent publication of population projections and the publication of the revised methodology for excess mortality statistics.

6. Report from the Director General for Regulation [SA(24)08]

  1. Ed Humpherson provided an update on regulation activity, highlighting the publication on 29 February of OSR’s new guidance on collecting and reporting data about sex and gender identity in official statistics.
  2. Ed Humpherson had given evidence at the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC), Transforming the UK’s Evidence Base on 6 February.
  3. OSR had received a request from the ONS to assess its Admin Based Population Estimates for England and Wales. OSR would conduct a phased review focussing on quality.
  4. OSR had presented findings from its review of the Code of Practice (CoP) for Statistics to the February Regulation Committee. The Committee had endorsed OSR’s recommendation to refresh the CoP with no change to Trustworthiness, Quality and Value. It was noted that a small number of respondents to the call for evidence for the CoP review had queried the 07.00 release of economic statistics.
  5. Casework during this period included public interventions on asylum backlog figures, NHS waiting lists and National Insurance Contributions.

7. Report from the Chair of the Regulation Committee

  1. The Chair reported on the work of the Regulation Committee which had last met on 1 February. It was noted that ahead of the main meeting the Committee had received a presentation on the work by ONS on the transformation of population and migration statistics.
  2. The Committee had considered:
    1. OSR’s draft Business Plan and Budget 2024/25:
    2. new guidance on sex and gender identity to support statistical producers;
    3. an update on ONS’s transformation of the LFS;
    4. OSR’s thinking around their regulatory approach, including accreditation, to departments undertaking major transformation programmes; and
    5. progress and planning for the pre-election period and the potential implications for OSR.

8. Strategic Risk Profile and Risk Appetite [SA(24)09]

  1. Megan Cooper introduced a paper providing an update on the Authority’s strategic risk profile, which reflected the most significant risks to the successful delivery of the Authority’s strategy. Following strategic workshops held with the Senior Leadership Team and Non-Executive Directors a major transformation of the profile was not being proposed.
  2. The Board heard that that the Executive Committee (ExCo) and its sub committees regularly considered the risk profile, with a focus on strategic risks outside of appetite, and the interplay across the strategic risk profile, such as the SR12 Technological Resilience, SR3 Quality Statistics and SR6 Communications.
  3. Members discussed the update. The following comments were made in discussion:
    1. the need to also focus on the strategic risks that were just within appetite in addition to those that were outside of appetite;
    2. the interplay between SR12 and SR3 and the challenge for the organisation in systematically addressing legacy issues. A cross office approach was needed to bring together Digital Services and Technology, Statistical Methodology and output owners to be able to transform legacy;
    3. the need to focus on the interplay across the strategic risk profile in delivering the strategy, not only those currently outside of appetite;
    4. the impact of external factors on the risk profile, such as the impact of the upcoming election on SR0 Independence and Trustworthiness;
    5. ONS had made improvements on the communication of statistical releases including the aim of pre-empting the misuse of statistics; and
    6. ExCo would continue to focus its discussion on the interconnectivity across the strategic risk profile.
  4. The Board agreed that the strategic risk profile including risk appetites reflected the top level risks for the Authority.
  5. Tom Taylor noted that the strategic risks should not be too composite in nature to ensure clear ownership and accountability by the risk owner.
  6. With regard to SR0 Independence and Trustworthiness and the link with SR3 Quality and SR6 Communications it was noted that Ed Humpherson and Penny Young would have a follow up discussion.

9. Independent Review of the Authority by Prof. Denise Lievesley

  1. Sir Robert welcomed Professor Denise Lievesley to the meeting noting thanks on behalf of the Board for all of her work in undertaking the review. The timing for publication of the review had not yet been confirmed by the Cabinet Office. Professor Lievesley was scheduled to attend the PACAC on 12 March.
  2. Professor Lievesley noted her thanks for all those involved in the review, which had included extensive engagement across the statistical system. The review had focussed on the structure of the statistical system in relation to the production of quality data. Professor Lievesley highlighted the following:
    1. The reputation of the UK Statistical System was high and had been enhanced by the work of ONS throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
    2. The role of the Office for Statistics Regulation was considered internationally as a strength of the system.
    3. Other National Statistical Offices were facing similar issues such as falling survey response rates and the ability to use administrative data in a sustainable way.
    4. The recommendation that the Authority should lead the establishment and delivery of a Triennial Assembly involving key organisations and across the four Nations with the remit of setting the UK’s needs for statistics. This would help raise the profile of the Authority Board with an annual lecture by the Authority Chair, linking to the State of the Statistical System report, produced by the Office for Statistics Regulation. It was noted that this was an opportunity for the Authority to lead the way as there was no model currently in existence.
    5. The need for the centre of government led by the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury to resolve the systemic barriers to data sharing between departments.
    6. The use of the Integrated Data Service in facilitating the greater use of administrative data.
    7. The need to consider the talent development and talent pipeline for the role of National Statistician.
  3. Board members discussed the review. The following points were considered in discussion:
    1. The recommendation that the expertise at a senior level in the ONS would be enhanced by the appointment of a Director General for Methodology with a focus on the communication of data. It would also provide the opportunity to engage with other national statistical offices and in academia.
    2. The value in the Authority building partnerships outside of government including universities and think tanks, with clear economic and social benefits to this collaboration.
    3. The range of actions around communications including the urgent improvement of the website.
    4. Appointment of a Non-Executive Director with relevant communications experience to enhance the Board.
    5. The opportunity for further detail in the Authority’s strategy on how it would engage with global organisations, and the recommendation to establish a Memorandum of Understanding with Eurostat.
  4. The Board welcomed the update by Professor Lievesley and looked forward to the publication of the report.

10. Census 2023 – Future of Population and Migration Statistics [SA(24)10]

  1. As this area of work is policy in development, the minute from this item will be published upon completion.

11. ARIES Programme [SA(24)11]

  1. Jason Zawadzki provided an update on delivery of the ARIES programme.
  2. The Board heard that Prices had progressed including the incorporation of both transformed second-hand cars and rents administrative data into headline consumer price statistics. There were a number of challenges in relation to the delivery of the Transformed Labour Force Survey (TLFS). In January ExCo had agreed to extend the dual running of the TLFS and LFS until mid-July 2024. The aim was that the TLFS would become the primary source of labour market statistics in September. Users would continue to be kept updated with clear communications as the work progressed. With regard to Legacy Ingres it was noted that a solution was currently being considered thought the executive governance framework.
  3. Board members discussed the update and highlighted the importance of effective stakeholder engagement throughout the transformation. It was noted that the dual running of the LFS and TLFS would continue until September. As part of the business planning process funding would be maintained for survey transformation.
  4. The Board noted the update.

12. Any other business

  1. The Board would next meet on 21 March.

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