Some of the aspects of the UK’s national statistics system were under the spotlight at a recent select committee meeting when Andrew Dilnot and John Pullinger were both asked to give evidence to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) on 26 April. The chair of the UK Statistics Authority and the National Statistician answered questions about two areas: the governance of the UK Statistics Authority and migration statistics.
Many of the questions raised were in reference to the recently published Bean Review, and how its recommendations might affect the UKSA going forward. Andrew Dilnot confirmed that many of the comments in the Review were already being addressed, adding that the focus was shifting from the collection and production of statistics to ‘analysis and added value’. When asked about another of the Bean Review’s recommendations that an independent office for regulation be created, Dilnot responded by saying that that this function was ‘already independent’ within UKSA.
Dilnot acknowledged that the move of some ONS functions to Newport in recent years had cause ‘some dislocation’ but confirmed that there was ‘no suggestion of moving people from Newport back to London’, and that capacity would be built in both London and Newport to complement each other.
When the questioning turned to migration statistics, there was some discussion about migration figures currently being used in discussions around the forthcoming EU referendum. John Pullinger confirmed that ONS was currently compiling a report on migration statistics – to be published at the end of May. Recent figures have shown a discrepancy between the number of national insurance numbers being issued and official net migration estimates. Pullinger explained that the forthcoming report would attempt to reconcile the different figures from HM Revenue & Customs, the ONS, the Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions around migration statistics by the end of May.