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The ONS currently publishes three Gross Domestic Product (GDP) releases for each quarter. Partly in response to two major reviews that commented on ONS’ approach to publishing GDP – the Barker-Ridgeway National Statistics Quality Review and Sir Charles Bean’s Independent Review of UK Economics Statistics, the ONS is consulting on an alternative model for the publications of GDP estimates. This new model would give two balanced estimates of quarterly GDP using data from the output, income and expenditure approaches six weeks and 13 weeks after the end of the preceding quarter. In addition, the Index of Services publication would be moved two weeks earlier to become part of the Short Term Economic Indicator theme day, allowing the publication of monthly GDP estimates.
While our current publication model has the benefit of affording quick and credible estimates of GDP, the proposed approach would result in monthly estimates of GDP as well as allowing ONS to publish a quicker balanced picture of the whole economy and a higher quality first estimate of GDP. The move of the Index of Services would give further clarity to the publication of economic statistics and is the final key step in reducing the “see-saw” narrative that can emanate from statistics on a related theme being published at different times. It is also noteworthy that the publication of monthly GDP estimates would consolidate the UK’s position at the forefront of short term GDP estimation.