The changes include the reduction of a five-day limit that is applied to current PRA arrangements to just one day for certain categories of economic statistics (exports, productivity, local government finance and non-domestic rates), plus a phased removal of PRA altogether from GDP and retail sales statistics.
RSS members have long argued to end PRA on the grounds of statistical integrity and public trust in official statistics. In May 2017, we wrote an open letter to The Times with 114 signatories calling it an ‘outdated and unnecessary practice [...] detrimental to public trust in official statistics’. Soon afterwards, in mid-June 2017, National Statistician and former RSS President John Pullinger ended PRA for all ONS statistics.
The ex-chair of the RSS National Statistics Advisory Group, Mike Hughes, then led the RSS’s written evidence to the original Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee inquiry, How to make data count: improving the quality and coverage of our economic statistics in 2017. Martin Weale subsequently represented the RSS in oral evidence to the same inquiry. The report published in 2018 concurred with our call to end PRA.
The Committee used comments from both the RSS and UKSA to support its most recent recommendations, concluding that they believe economic statistics should be a public asset and ought to be available when published on an equal and not a privileged basis.