Time Item Details
5 mins
Minutes and matters arising from previous meetings
Declarations of interest
Meeting of 26 October 2023
10 mins
Report from the Authority Chair SA(23)63
Sir Robert Chote
30 mins
Report from the Chief Executive SA(23)64
Prof. Sir Ian Diamond
10 mins
Report from the Director General for Regulation SA(23)65
Ed Humpherson
5 mins
Report from Committee Chair
• Audit and Risk Assurance Committee
Oral update
Dr Jacob Abboud
20 mins
Excess Mortality Methods SA(23)66
Emma Rourke
Julie Stanborough
5 mins
25 mins
Ambitious, Radical, Inclusive Economic Statistics Programme Update SA(23)67
Jason Zawadzki
Mike Keoghan
Darren Morgan
Alex Lambert
50 mins
Census 2023 Consultation: Interim Analysis, Assurance and Methodology SA(23)68
Emma Rourke
Fiona Dawe
Jennet Woolford
Kate Davies
5 mins
Any Other Business

Next meeting: Thursday 25 January 2024, London Boardroom

Members present

  • Sir Robert Chote (Chair)
  • Dr Jacob Abboud
  • Professor Sir John Aston
  • Professor Sir Ian Diamond
  • Ed Humpherson
  • Sian Jones
  • Alison Pritchard
  • Professor Dame Carol Propper
  • Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter
  • Penny Young

Also in attendance

  • Robert Bumpstead
  • Kate Davies (for item 10)
  • Alex Lambert (for item 9)
  • Darren Morgan (for item 9)
  • Emma Rourke (for items 8, 10)
  • Julie Stanborough (for item 8)
  • Tom Taylor
  • Jennet Woolford (for item 10)
  • Jason Zawadzki (for item 9)


  • Nora Nanayakkara

1. Apologies

  1. Apologies were noted from 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 26 October were agreed.

4. Report from the Authority Chair [SA(23)63]

  1. Non-Executive Directors had met prior to the Board meeting. They had discussed the Census 2023 and consultation.
  2. On behalf of the Authority Board Sir Robert Chote paid sincere tribute to the late Lord Rowe-Beddoe. David Rowe-Beddoe was a founding member of the Authority Board on the establishment of the UK Statistics Authority and was the Board’s deputy chair with responsibility for oversight of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) between 2008 and 2012. As a crossbench member of the House of Lords, David continued to support the Authority, making a keynote speech in support of the new legislative framework for statistics within the Digital Economy Bill (now Act) in 2016. The Chair on behalf of the Board was very sad to learn of his passing and we extend to Lord Rowe-Beddoe’s family and friends our deepest condolences. He would be fondly remembered.
  3. The Chair reported on his recent activities since the Board last met. On 31 October Sir Robert had attended a roundtable discussion at the Electoral Commission alongside Rob Kent-Smith, Deputy Director for Regulation.
  4. Sir Robert had attended a meeting at the Bank of England on 29 November with Huw Pill, Chief Economist and Executive Director for Monetary Analysis and Research at which the good working relationship between the BoE and ONS colleagues was noted.

5. Report from the Chief Executive [SA(23)64]

  1. Sir Ian provided the Board with an overview of activity and issues since the last meeting, highlighting the following:
    1. on 23 November the publication of updated UK international migration statistics for 2012 to 2021 and provisional long term international migration statistics for year ending June 2023, with ONS providing media and government briefings to help communicate the data; and a blog by Emma Rourke, Director General for Health, Population and Methods.
    2. Sir Ian’s attendance at the Covid-19 Inquiry on 10 October covering the role of the Authority during the pandemic, data and insights delivered;
    3. Sir Ian’s membership of a Social and Behavioural Science Group for emergencies that had been set up by Sir Patrick Vallance, with membership including Professor Jennifer Rubin, Home Office Chief Scientific Adviser, and Professor Sarah Sharples, Department for Transport Chief Scientific Adviser;
    4. the approach by Sir Ian and the Senior Leadership Team in managing the financial position with a positive impact of the cost control mechanisms that had been put in place to ensure a balanced budget at year end;
    5. the launch of the business planning and budget setting process had commenced with directorate planning in progress; and
    6. following agreement by Permanent Secretaries across the Civil Service to increase office attendance to better support collaboration, development and wellbeing of all colleagues. Office attendance would increase to 40 per cent of working time for all office-based colleagues. This would see colleagues required to spend 20 per cent of their time from January 2024, increasing to 40 per cent from April.
  2. Board members discussed the update and highlighted the need for external engagement as part of the business planning process. With regard to hybrid working the ability to work flexibly had impacted positively on the recruitment of scarce skills. It was noted that the transition to 40 per cent office-based attendance could pose a challenge for recruitment and retention. People Business and Services were co-ordinating up to 400 discussions across the organisation to address any queries.
  3. The Board noted the report and welcomed the new interactive tool launched on 24 October, which allowed users to create a population group profile, based on Census 2021.

6. Report from the Director General for Regulation [SA(23)65]

  1. Ed Humpherson provided an update on regulation activity. The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) had published a review of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on 29 November, which found that ONS’s approach to revisions was appropriate and well managed, noting that the more extreme criticisms that ONS had received were misplaced. OSR had written to the Welsh Government about improving transparency of Welsh Government’s 20-mile per hour speed limit data.
  2. The review of the Code of Practice for Statistics had included a range of external engagement including three public panel events, three analyst and four Head of Profession events since the launch of the review in September. An in-person event was scheduled at the Royal Statistical Society later that day (30 November) with the call for evidence continuing to 11 December. OSR had also hosted a roundtable on data sharing and linkage across government following publication of its report in July.
  3. OSR’s programme of work on sex and gender identity was ongoing, which included extensive engagement with statistical producers, with the aim of publishing OSR’s updated guidance early in 2024, following consideration by the Regulation Committee.
  4. Board members discussed the update, and noted the importance of transparent communication of statistics, with reference to the release by ONS on the quality of Census 2021 gender identity data on 8 November. A six-month review by Professor Alice Sullivan analysing the collection of research and statistics by all public bodies on sex and gender was ongoing.

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

  1. The Chair reported on the work of the Audit Risk and Assurance Committee (ARAC) which had last met on 16 November.
  2. The Committee had considered:
    1. the financial position with a high level of assurance provided by the finance team on the controls in place to reach a balanced budget at year end;
    2. an update on the strategic risk profile with a focus on areas of challenge;
    3. delivery of the Internal Audit programme of assurance 2023/24;
    4. Internal Reports on Resource Management and Financial Efficiencies;
    5. resourcing of the Internal Audit team following a number of recruitments; and
    6. the mid-year fraud report.

8. Excess Mortality Methods [SA(23)66]

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

9. Ambitious, Radical, Inclusive Economic Statistics (ARIES) Programme Update [SA(23)67]

  1. Jason Zawadzki, Darren Morgan and Alex Lambert provided an update on delivery of the ARIES programme with a focus on the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the delivery of the Transformed Labour Force Survey (TLFS), and legacy.
  2. The Board heard that all programme major milestones had been achieved since January 2023. It was noted that the TLFS was ONS’s strategic solution to the challenging respondent environment and the challenges of sustaining the LFS. The TLFS used an online-first multi-mode approach and aimed to enable Labour Market Statistics that were more timely, coherent, granular and responsive to user needs. The TLFS and LFS had been running in parallel with two key issues remaining to be addressed: under reporting headline employment data and capturing the Standard Industrial Classification and Standard Occupational Classification of a respondent’s employment less accurately than a face-to-face interviewer. It was noted that the LFS had been designed to operate at a high response rate. Following testing ONS had tested that 37 per cent response rate was reasonable for the TLFS as opposed to 55 per cent for the LFS.
  3. With regard to legacy transformation, there had been a number of complex challenges which had led to delays. In response to this issue the Executive Committee had agreed an approach, which would enable ONS to improve the pace of removing legacy.
  4. Board members discussed the update. The following points were considered in discussion:
    1. the effective working relationship by ONS with colleagues at the Bank of England and HM Treasury in providing assurance to address the remaining challenges;
    2. the duration of the parallel run for the LFS and TLFS, and the LFS decommissioning decision scheduled in January 2024 with the potential that the parallel run might need to be extended and LFS decommissioning delayed;
    3. progress towards creating a more sustainable field force community in a challenging recruitment environment; and
    4. concerns and a lack of assurance around the delivery of legacy transformation even with a revised strategic approach and commitment by the Senior Leadership Team, given the repeated delays over recent years.
  5. The Board noted the update and highlighted the need for a discussion by the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee on legacy, (already scheduled for March 2024). It was agreed that a further session would be scheduled on legacy with Sian Jones and Jacob Abboud with Jason Zawadzki; and a session on surveys for Penny Jones with Alex Lambert.

10. Census 2023 Consultation: Interim Analysis, Assurance and Methodology [SA(23)68]

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

11. Any other business

  1. The Board would next meet on 19 December.

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