Government announces review into economic statistics

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

Chancellor George Osborne announced a review into the production of economic statistics as part of the announcement of the government’s Productivity Plan, two days after the budget. The review is to be led by Professor Sir Charles Bean, who until last year was deputy governor of monetary policy at the Bank of England.

The review has been commissioned to not only evaluate the statistics needed to measure the economy, but also to ‘assess the effectiveness of the ONS in delivering these statistics’ and examine the governance framework that is currently in place.

The review is to make an interim recommendation to the chancellor and the minister for the Cabinet Office in the autumn, with a final report published before the 2016 budget.

Sir Andrew Dilnot, speaking in a statement on behalf of the UK Statistics Authority (PDF), said it supported the review, which ‘will build on the established principles of statutory independence for UK statistics.’

The RSS also welcomed the review, albeit with caution. ‘Clearly we welcome an independent review which is likely to lead to an improvement in economic statistics,’ said Mike Hughes, chair of the Society’s National Statistics Advisory Group (NSAG). But he also expressed concern about risks to the principle of independence, adding: ‘The production and governance of UK statistics are independent of government and should continue to be. The UK Statistics Authority must be fully involved in agreeing any recommendations that come out of the review.’

Earlier this year, the RSS published a comprehensive overview of its recommended improvements to economic statistics in response to an inquiry by the then Public Administration Select Committee into economic and public finance statistics. The RSS statement called for more resources and training at the ONS, as well as greater collaboration between ONS and the Bank of England. It also called for improvements in data access and a more coherent and high quality dissemination of economic statistics.

The review, including the RSS's position, was covered on the front page of the Financial Times and The Times (both links behind a paywall).

Official Statistics UK Statistics Authority Office for National Statistics (ONS) Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) Andrew Dilnot

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