© Crown copyright 2017
This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3 or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where we have identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.
This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-measurement-system/uk-national-measurement-system
The National Measurement System (NMS) provides the UK with an infrastructure of laboratories that deliver world-class measurement science and technology and provide traceable and increasingly accurate standards of measurement.
We maintain a National Measurement System because of the substantial impact it has on every aspect of UK life and its economic success. The NMS enables the UK to compete in global trade and manufacturing by ensuring consistency and recognition of measurement units and standards throughout the world. Internationally leading knowledge and expertise is passed on to UK stakeholders by a coordinated programme of knowledge transfer.
The NMS is delivered through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The science programmes are delivered by the UK’s measurement institutes:
- National Physical Laboratory (NPL)
- LGC Ltd
- Regulatory Delivery (part of BEIS)
- National Gear Metrology Laboratory (NGML)
- National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC)
Strategy 2017 to 2020
The NMS strategy for 2017 to 2020 sets out a framework to deliver leadership in measurement through growth and innovation. The accompanying report, The Value of Measurement - Supporting Information for the UK Measurement Strategy ( PDF, 10.5MB, 87 pages ), provides the evidence to show the impact that good measurement has on trade and consumers, on production lines, in hospitals and when making policy choices in government.
Science programmes and budget
BEIS invests £65 million a year in the NMS. This is broken down into 4 main sector themes:
- advanced manufacturing
- energy and environment
- life sciences and health
BEIS engages sector experts to provide independent advice on the science programmes carried out by the laboratories, which are reviewed regularly.
|Sector||Percentage of budget|
|Cross sector activities||12%|
|Energy and environment||22%|
|Life sciences and health||26%|
Statutory and policy obligations
The Government Chemist has a statutory function as a referee analyst under several acts of Parliament which focus on public protection, value for money and consumer choice. Regulatory areas where this is particularly important include the quality of food, animal feed, pesticides, medicines and chemicals. Beyond resolving scientific disputes between food businesses and local authorities, the Government Chemist provides advice to regulators and industry and performs research. This function is carried out by LGC Ltd.
The legal metrology programme, delivered by Regulatory Delivery, a directorate within BEIS, supports 207 local authorities and their officers who require training to enforce weights and measures legislation, including their market surveillance and inspection duties. The legal metrology infrastructure underpins trade measurement and confidence in the market. Regulatory Delivery also provides a range of certification and testing services that enable businesses to export their products globally.