Helpful resources – voluntarily applying the Code

Examples of applying the Code pillars

The case studies below serve as examples of organisations that are applying the Code pillars to their data, statistics and analysis (that are not part of official statistics production), to enhance public confidence.

The organisations publish a statement on how they seek to demonstrate their commitment to trustworthiness and the quality and value of their statistics.

They state where they comply with the Code, as well as where they don’t and for what reasons.

We highlight some of the aspects of the statements to show why the information is helpful, together with a link to the statement.

 

The Scottish Fiscal Commission is responsible for producing independent forecasts of tax revenues, expenditure on social security and on-shore Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for Scotland. It is not considered an official statistics producer; however, it has made an active choice to apply the Code wherever possible.

It reviewed its approaches to producing and publishing analysis against the three pillars of Trustworthiness, Quality and Value (TQV) and considered how it was already meeting the principles within the Code and what could be improved upon.

The majority of Code principles were already being followed within the Commission, in line with its responsibilities as an independent fiscal institution. However, setting out its commitment to voluntarily applying the Code in a clear statement on its website, using the TQV framework, allowed it to demonstrate its independence. Furthermore, by being transparent about its methods and quality assurance, as well as the limitations and the judgements made within its forecasts, it has encouraged trust in the value of its outputs. Building this trust is essential to meet its users’ need for independent scrutiny of the Government’s budget and to inform debate. You can find out more about the Commission’s approach in this blog.

The Commission included a commitment to continue to develop its approaches in line with the best practice outlined in the Code. It has already taken additional steps through starting to pre-announce forthcoming publications up to a year in advance, ensuring all data are released in a reusable format, and by publishing its approach to corrections and revisions.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) produces a range of official statistics and National Statistics on benefits, pensions, employment programmes and income distribution. It also publishes historic and forecast data on benefit expenditure and caseload (the number of people claiming benefits and tax credits). Although these data tables are not classified by DWP as official statistics, it voluntarily applies the Code of Practice’s pillars (Trustworthiness, Quality and Value) in the production and release of the tables.

DWP has published information and guidance that explains what the tables are and what they show. It contains background information about social security spending and the benefits system in the UK that helps users to put the forecasts into context.

The guidance sets out how DWP has applied the Code’s pillars to the tables in a proportionate way. For example, it demonstrates:

  • Trustworthiness by being open about how the data are seen and used by Ministers to inform the Government’s fiscal decision-making prior to public release;
  • Quality by ensuring figures are consistent with the latest Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts and use the latest GDP deflator; and
  • Value by making information accessible, reducing administrative burden, and updating analyses to reflect key areas of interest

DWP has also published an accompanying quality and methods document that provides information on the data sources, the methodology and the quality assurance arrangements. It describes the purpose of the statistics and lists the internal and external users. It clearly highlights the limitations of the data, such as the lack of comparability with OBR forecasts due to differences in coverage and definitions. And, it explains DWP’s approach to revisions and how changes to the welfare system may have affected the forecasts.

DWP’s transparent approach to producing and publishing the forecasts aims to ensure that users can have confidence in the data and in DWP.

The statement (PDF) demonstrates transparency in the data sources used to inform Budget decisions. It provides confidence that the information used is objective and impartial.

It highlights the data sources and methods in relation to official and National Statistics. The document lists all the data sources and producer organisations, providing clear links to the source material.

Document Preface of Autumn Budget 2017

The website, Ethnicity Facts and Figures, provides data from across Government departments on how outcomes from public services vary for people of different ethnicities. Some of these data have previously been published and some not. The website highlights many disparities in outcomes and treatment from public services.

This is one of the first examples of an organisation voluntarily applying the pillars and principles of the Code of Practice. It used the draft Code as released in the Code consultation in 2017. The published second edition of the Code has some differences in the naming of the principles and order compared with the statement shown below. The Race Disparity Unit (RDU) is in the process of updating its statement to reflect the published Code.

The statement (PDF) explains how the statistics on the website were compiled using the pillars as a framework. It is clear on the judgements and process that have gone into developing the website. It gives a description for each principle listed.

It highlights an area of Trustworthiness that it is not able to apply –  it doesn’t follow the Code’s publication protocol in the Orderly Release principle, required of official statistics. However, RDU provides information about the independent compilation of the statistics and the steps taken to reassure themselves and users about the objectivity and robustness of the statistics on the website.

Race Disparity Audit

We also apply the pillars in our work as a regulator. We used them in compiling the List of National Statistics. The statement (PDF) clearly sets out the commitment to applying the Code pillars in the production and release of the information.

It highlights the independent production of the information and the approach to release. It sets out the production and assurance approach and explains the relevance of the information.

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