Government response

Independent review of UK economic statistics: government response

This page gives details of the government's response to the independent review of UK economic statistics, led by Professor Sir Charles Bean.

placeholder

Last summer, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister for the Cabinet Office commissioned Professor Sir Charles Bean to carry out an independent review of UK economic statistics.

The review set out to establish:

  • the UK’s future statistics needs
  • the capability of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in delivering statistics
  • the most appropriate governance framework to support production of those statistics

This Independent Review of Economic Statistics (IRES) is part of Fixing the Foundations, the government’s wider plan to increase UK productivity growth across the next decade.

The government shares the ambition for UK statistics produced by the ONS to rise to the challenges of an increasingly technological economy. We are very grateful to Professor Sir Charles Bean and his team for the review’s authoritative, considered and high quality analysis that will support this.

Watch a short summary video covering the report’s key findings:

Watch a short summary video covering the report’s key findings.

In summary, the government fully endorses the recommendations of the Independent Review of Economic Statistics. The ONS must:

  • address the limitations of their statistics
  • reform their culture to become more customer-oriented
  • make full use of administrative data already held by government
  • strengthen statistical governance in line with Professor Sir Charles Bean’s strategic recommendations

The government will work with the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) and the ONS to implement the recommendations in full.

Measuring the modern economy

The review made recommendations which covered both current and future challenges that UKSA and ONS face when measuring the modern economy.

To support these recommendations the government announced in the 2016 Budget this week that it will invest over £10 million in a new ONS data science hub and a centre for excellence in economic measurement.

The new hub for data science will maximise the public value from existing and new data sets – so called ‘big data’ from public and private sources – using cutting-edge techniques to allow ONS to produce more innovative, accurate and timely statistics. The centre for excellence will improve the ONS’s capability to measure the changes in the UK’s increasingly digital economy and to push the frontiers of economic measurement.

In addition to the 2 new centres, the IRES recommendations are designed to enable the ONS to develop world-leading analytical and digital capabilities in economic measurement and future-proof the production of the UK’s economic statistics.

Better use of data

The government welcomes the comments of the Bean review that better use of data is essential for modern government. We recently launched an 8-week public consultation on how we can improve access and use of data, of which core proposals relate to improving the UKSA’s ability to access data for the purpose of producing official and national statistics.

These proposals have been designed to support the greater reuse of administrative data held by government.

Governance

The government also welcomes the recommendations for better governance of ONS statistics, including the creation of an Independent Regulation and Evaluation Office, subsuming the existing regulatory function at UKSA. This new body will be charged with publicly assessing both the trustworthiness and quality of official statistics, as well as ONS’s effectiveness. It will be made up of key stakeholders directly working with ONS statistical output.

These recommendations will develop world-leading analytical and digital capabilities in economic measurement and future-proof the production of the UK’s economic statistics. The Cabinet Office commits to supporting a high-level group comprising representatives of HM Treasury, the Bank of England and other key stakeholders and users to facilitate frank and open discussion with the UKSA board.

Published 17 March 2016