Victory for RSS campaign to end pre-release access to statistics

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The RSS has welcomed the announcement of an end to all pre-release access to official statistics produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The announcement was made in a letter from the National Statistician, John Pullinger, to the chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir David Norgrove. The change will come into effect from 1 July.

It follows a major RSS campaign which culminated last month (8 May) when The Times published an RSS-led letter, calling for an end to pre-release access, with 114 signatories - the same number of people who currently have advance access to the official (and market-sensitive) labour market statistics.

The letter’s signatories included our president Sir David Spiegelhalter, the chair of the our National Statistics Advisory Group, Mike Hughes, former National Statistician, Dame Jil Matheson and ex-chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir Michael Scholar.

'This is extremely welcome news,' said RSS executive director, Hetan Shah. 'It’s a major achievement for the RSS and our members. It will reduce the opportunities for figures to be ‘spun’ and increase public confidence in official statistics. It will also lower the risk of market-sensitive information being leaked or abused.

'We hope it will set an example for other government departments to follow and bring forward the day when pre-release access to all official statistics is ended.' 

Our work on this issue was acknowledged in a number of press articles in national and international newspapers, including the Financial TimesIndependent, Wall Street JournalCity AMNew York TimesDaily Mail and Observer.

John Pullinger Hetan Shah Official Statistics UK Statistics Authority Jil Matheson David Spiegelhalter RSS President Pre-release access to statistics