In anticipation of issues likely to be discussed in the run-up to the 2014 referendum, the report presents key figures relating to population, national accounts, public expediture, trade, oil and gas, taxation, debt, employment, household income, health and education. 'Inevitably, statistical comparisons will be drawn between Scotland and the rest of the UK,' Andrew Dilnot commented in the report's foreword. This report, he goes on to say, 'offers a wide range of advice for reference on sources and comparability.'
It also, however, highlights the problems and uncertainties associated with available data, explaining that the differences in the way official statistics are defined between the four UK administrations are likely, in some cases, to affect direct comparison.
Dilnot also confirmed that the Office for National Statistics will complement the report with a compendium of comparable statistics for the four UK administrations ahead of the referendum, which it will draw upon when responding to any concerns about the use of official statistics.
The Royal Statistical Society welcomes the report. Its president, John Pullinger, commented: 'This is just the kind of report we need from the UKSA - presenting an impartial statistical analysis of a topic that is the subject of current political debate'.
The Statistics Authority has arranged two events, one in Edinburgh (held 2 October) and one in London (10 October), to discuss what is needed to ensure there is as much help as possible for anyone wishing to understand the scope for valid comparisons between the four UK administrations and the limitations of current available statistics. Further details on these events can be found here.