Time Item Details
5 mins
Minutes and matters arising from previous meetings
Declarations of interest
Meeting of 23 February 2023
10 mins
Report from the Authority Chair SA(23)15
Sir Robert Chote
35 mins
Report from the Chief Executive SA(23)16
Prof. Sir Ian Diamond
20 mins
Report from the Director-General for Regulation
• OSR Draft Business Plan
Ed Humpherson
5 mins
Report from Committee Chairs
• Audit and Risk Assurance Committee
Oral update
Sian Jones
15 mins
Strategy update SA(23)18
Will Marks
20 mins
ONS Draft Business Plan SA(23)19
Tom Taylor
Megan Cooper
10 mins
20 mins
National Statistics Designation Review SA(23)20
Ed Humpherson
Penny Babb
Helen Miller-Bakewell
25 mins
Business Survey Transformation SA(23)21
Dr Alex Lambert
Phillip Davies
Megan Mayell
15 mins
Integrated Data Service SA(23)22
Alison Pritchard
Jason Yaxley
20 mins
ARIES Transformation Programme SA(23)23
Jason Zawadzki
10 mins
Any Other Business

Next meeting: 27 April 2023, Newport Boardroom


UK Statistics Authority

  • Sir Robert Chote (Chair)
  • Sian Jones (Deputy Chair)
  • Dr Jacob Abboud
  • Professor Sir John Aston
  • Sam Beckett
  • Professor Sir Ian Diamond
  • Richard Dobbs
  • Ed Humpherson
  • Nora Nanayakkara
  • Professor Dame Carol Propper
  • Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter
  • Penny Young

Also in attendance

  • Penny Babb (for item 10)
  • Owen Brace
  • Robert Bumpstead
  • Megan Cooper (for item 9)
  • Phillip Davies (for item 11)
  • Sally-Ann Jones (Secretariat)
  • Alex Lambert (for item 11)
  • Will Marks (for item 8)
  • Megan Mayell (for item 11)
  • Helen Miller-Bakewell (for item 10)
  • Alison Pritchard
  • Tom Taylor
  • Jason Yaxley (for item 12)
  • Jason Zawadzki (for item 13)


  • None

1. Apologies

  1. There were no apologies received.

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 23 February 2023 were agreed.

4. Report from the Authority Chair [SA(23)15]

  1. Non-Executive Directors had met prior to the Board meeting. They had discussed topics including the prospective independent review of the Authority by the Cabinet Office, and frequency of Board meetings. The Chair on behalf of the Board congratulated Professor Sir Ian Diamond on his reappointment as National Statistician for a second term.
  2. The Chair reported on his recent activities since the Board last met:
    1. on 2 March Sir Robert had met Alistair McAlpine, Interim Chief Statistician, Scottish Government.
    2. Sir Robert had discussed the development of this year’s State of the Statistical System report with the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) team;
    3. on 22 March Sir Robert alongside Sir Ian had led a panel discussion at the mid-term strategy review stakeholder event with Dr Laura Gilbert, Chief Analyst No.10, Ming Tang, Chief Analyst NHS England and Tim Harford, writer and broadcaster. A successful event attended by over 200 people from the statistical and analytical community;
    4. Sir Robert had met with Dame Kate Barker, Chair of the Stakeholder Advisory Panel on Consumer Prices on 28 March; and
    5. on 28 March Sir Robert had attended the Group of Independent Chairs meeting hosted by Lord Jonathan Evans and the Committee on Standards in Public Life; and had met the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

5. Report from the Chief Executive [SA(23)16]

  1. Sir Ian provided the Board with an overview of activity and issues since the last meeting, highlighting the following:
      1. Sir Ian had presented a lecture to the Royal Society on 9 March on the ‘Future of Economic Statistics’;
      2. the COVID-19 Infection Survey data collection had paused. Planning was ongoing for a new COVID-19 and Respiratory Infections Survey;
      3. progress of discussions with a number of departments regarding data sharing across the Union with a focus on health indicators;
      4. launch of the flexible table builder on 28 March for census data, which would allow users to create a custom dataset;
      5. work on the consultation on the future of the production of population and social statistics in England and Wales, including pre consultation engagement with 14 Local Authorities;
      6. the continued support by ONS for colleagues at the National Records of Scotland (NRS) on the Scotland Census 2022 with the secondment of Jon Wroth-Smith to NRS as Director of Census Statistics;
      7. the annual update of the inflation basket of goods and services;
      8. effective management of the 2022/23 year end position with the current position projecting an under expenditure; and
      9. ONS engagement with the Institute for Fiscal Studies, a methodological discussion regarding the definition of pension benefits.
  2. The Board heard that field worker retention was a national issue. It was noted that the strategic re-design of the ONS field force model would provide a more sustainable solution and career progression.

6. Report from the Director General for Regulation: OSR Draft Business Plan [SA(23)17]

  1. Ed Humpherson provided an update on regulation activity highlighting that the second assessment report for Scotland’s Census 2022 would be published on 4 April.
  2. OSR’s draft Business Plan and regulatory work programmes set out high level activities for 2023/24 including a programme of enhanced scrutiny of economic statistics. Casework included correspondence from NHS England about the improvement to waiting time statistics following engagement with OSR.
  3. The Board heard that OSR continued to engage with the Home Office regarding issues previously raised on the need for transparency across the department.
  4. Board members endorsed the draft business plan; and supported the proposal to expand OSR’s work on economic statistics. It was noted that OSR had improved efficiencies through a focus on key domain topic areas.

7. Report from the Chair of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee

  1. Sian Jones reported on the work of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee which had last met on 16 March.
  2. The Committee had considered:
    1. the financial position of the organisation and the effective management of the year end position by the finance and senior leadership teams;
    2. progress implementing the risk and assurance framework, with the introduction of dashboards across the strategic risk profile;
    3. the draft Internal Audit programme of assurance 2023/24;
    4. delivery of the Internal Audit programme of work 2022/23;
    5. an Internal Audit Report for the Ambitious Radical Inclusive Economic Statistics (ARIES) Programme;
    6. assurance on the implementation of audit findings following the cyber security Internal Audit report; and
    7. OSR’s annual update including assurance of the work by ONS on statistical quality.
  3. The Chair reported that a theme highlighted throughout the meeting was the need to strengthen baseline measures and metrics across the strategic risk profile to support the assurance function and the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee.

8. Strategy Update [SA(23)18]

  1. Will Marks introduced a paper which was the eighth quarterly update on progress against the delivery of the strategy, Statistics for the Public Good.
  2. A mid-term review of the strategy was ongoing considering progress to date and remaining challenges going forward. A survey across the Authority (ONS, OSR and the Government Statistical Service (GSS)); and the annual ONS stakeholder satisfaction survey had been undertaken. On 22 March, a successful stakeholder event with users had been held including presentations from Sir Ian, Ed Humpherson and Sam Beckett. It was noted that Sir Robert alongside Sir Ian, as part of a rolling programme of departmental visits across the GSS, met Heads of Professions and their teams regularly regarding delivery of the strategy.
  3. Board members welcomed the update and noted the successful stakeholder event. Next steps of the review would include a full analysis of all feedback including postcards submitted at the event by users, which had asked about the main challenges facing the UK statistical and analytical community, and the achievement of the aims of the strategy. Board members discussed the career progression of analysts more generally. The Board would remain engaged with this work as it progressed ahead of publication of the review.

9. ONS Draft Business Plan [SA(23)19]

  1. Tom Taylor and Megan Cooper introduced a paper which provided the refreshed draft ONS business plan 2023/24.
  2. The Board heard that the work on delivery of the draft plan was already in progress, with discussions by the National Statistics Executive Group and the Portfolio and Investment Committee (PIC). The plan highlighted the need for the organisation to continue to innovate in line with the strategy, Statistics for the Public Good, and live within its means for the remainder of the spending review period.
  3. The Board would consider the final plan in May on completion of the business planning process, which would conclude the work on prioritisation, an assessment of capacity and produce a final set of key milestones. The outcome of the mid-term review of the strategy would also be considered. External publication of the plan was scheduled for June.
  4. Board members discussed the draft plan. It was noted that legacy transformation was embedded within programmes due to its cross cutting nature, rather than a standalone project, with oversight at the PIC.

10. National Statistics Designation Review [SA(23)20]

  1. Ed Humpherson and Penny Babb presented a paper which provided an update on OSR’s project to refresh the National Statistics designation.
  2. The Board heard that the Regulation Committee, at its February 2022 meeting, had approved the proposal to clarify rather than replace the term ‘National Statistics’ by enhancing the description to ‘National Statistics are accredited official statistics’, adopting the language of ‘independent review’; and labelling experimental statistics as ‘official statistics in development’.
  3. This discussion was an opportunity for Board members to comment on progress of the designation refresh project as OSR conduct further user testing of badges ahead of discussion at April Regulation Committee and a final paper to the Board in May.
  4. Board members welcomed the update and highlighted the need to include examples setting out how the new approach meets the Authority’s statutory requirements, and how it would improve the number of producers seeking designation.

11. Business Survey Transformation [SA(23)21]

  1. Alex Lambert, Phillip Davies and Megan Mayell introduced a paper regarding a vision for the future of business surveys in ONS and summarised plans to develop an initial proof-of-concept for June 2023.
  2. The Board heard that there were eight major business survey projects currently improving the quality of data collected, delivering efficiency savings, replacing legacy technology, increasing capability and moving data collection online. The vision for the future of business surveys would rationalise the survey portfolio, increase data quality and reduce respondent burden. The initial proof of concept work was scheduled for completion by June 2023.
  3. The Board noted their thanks for an excellent presentation. It was noted that the Census and Data Collection Transformation Programme was providing the enabling online resources to support business survey transformation. The revised Statistical Business Register using new systems and technology would help reduce the burden on both large and small businesses.

12. Integrated Data Service [SA(23)22]

  1. Alison Pritchard and Jason Yaxley presented a paper which provided an update on the progress of the Integrated Data Programme (IDP), responsible for the delivery of the Integrated Data Service (IDS).
  2. The Board heard that the technology for the Public Beta service had been delivered. The Digital Economy Act accreditation process for the IDS was ongoing. Onboarding news users and data and securing buy-in for the IDS across government would be key areas of focus for the programme going forward.
  3. The Board noted the update and would remain engaged as the work progressed.

13. ARIES Transformation Programme [SA(23)23]

  1. Jason Zawadzki presented a paper which provided an update on the progress of the Ambitious Radical Inclusive Sustainable (ARIES) transformation programme.
  2. The Board heard that over the course of the first year the programme had delivered in a number of areas: improved data for the Balance Sheet of Public Corporations in the Regional Accounts; improved understanding of Research and Development statistics; new sub-national data in the Regional Accounts; and the launch and parallel run of the Transformed Labour Force Survey.
  3. Areas of lessons learned during the course of the programme were being used to strengthen the delivery model going forward. It was noted that the Internal Audit Report on ARIES programme governance, would underpin improvements in assurance and benefits management.
  4. The Board noted thanks for a clear paper, which had effectively set out progress to date and challenges going forward.

14. Any Other Business

  1. The next meeting would take place on 27 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