I am writing to draw your attention to the latest Public Confidence in Official Statistics report (2021), which has been produced by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) on behalf of the UK Statistics Authority. I am happy to share that the report finds that public confidence in official statistics remains high, and engagement with official statistics has increased since 2018.
Awareness of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Authority has increased from 70% and 33% in 2018 to 75% and 48% in 2021 respectively. Furthermore, for the first time people were asked if they were aware of the Office for Statistics Regulation, with 41% saying that they were.
Notably, 96% of people able to express a view agreed that it is important for there to be a body such as the Authority to speak out against the misuse of statistics, and 94% agreed about the importance of there being a body to ensure that official statistics are produced without political interference.
Members might also be interested to note that a very high proportion of respondents trusted the ONS (89% of those able to express a view) and our statistics (87%). Of those able to express an opinion, trust in the ONS was highest of all institutions asked about, including the Government, the Bank of England, and the civil service as a whole. 82% of people able to express an opinion agreed that official statistics are generally accurate, up from 78% in 2018. Meanwhile 44% said they had used ONS COVID-19 statistics; they were more commonly used than any of the other statistics asked about with the exception of the census.
This report is very welcome, especially following our hard work to provide clear insights throughout the pandemic. We are proud that the public support our vision of statistics that serve the public good, which we will continue to deliver with honesty, and free from political interference.
A copy of the report will be annexed to this letter for the Committee’s information.
Professor Sir Ian Diamond