Survey on public trust in ONS supports end to pre-release access

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

new report by NatCen for the UK Statistics Authority (PDF) shows increasing support for ending pre-release access to statistics, with 71% of the public thinking that official statistics should be made equally available to everybody at the same time. This is higher than a NatCen poll from 2009, which found that 59% felt that ministers should not be given early access to official statistics.

The report also shows a low level of trust in those presenting statistics in the public domain. Just a quarter (25%) of respondents agreed that the government presents official figures honestly when discussing its policies, with only 17% agreeing that newspapers did so. This concurs with research commissioned by the RSS 18 months ago (and presented at this meeting) which also identified a lack of public confidence in politicians using official statistics accurately (only 7% felt they did so).

The report shows a high level of trust in the UK's Office for National Statistics however, with 68% of the survey's 1,907 respondents saying they trusted the ONS. And among those who had heard of ONS, 82% said they trusted it. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to compare these figures with previously conducted surveys by NatCen as the survey questions have been changed to be in line with other surveys conducted internationally.

Mike Hughes, who chairs the Royal Statistical Society's National Statistics Advisory Group, said: ‘These latest results support the RSS's stated position that pre-release access should be curtailed. This would go a long way to reassure the public that ministers and public officials are handling data with integrity.’

Official Statistics Office for National Statistics (ONS) National Statistics Advisory Group (NSAG) NatCen

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