Code of Practice for Statistics

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 statement (PDF) includes a summary of the Scottish Fiscal Commission’s approaches against each of the three pillars and is clear and direct. The statement is very clear on the organisation’s governance and processes to ensure it is politically independent.

It highlights independent decision making and leadership, data governance, sound methods, assured quality arrangements and relevance to users. It includes commitments to the further development of the output.

The statement clearly sets out the commitment to applying the pillars in the production and release of the data tables. It is open about how the data are seen and used by Ministers to inform the Government’s fiscal decision making prior to public release.

It highlights the data source, methods and outlines the key aspects of the quality assurance arrangements. It explains why the information is needed and its main use. It also makes clear how the Department for Work and Pensions is responding to user needs.


Principles followed in the compilation and release of these tables

Although the tables are not Official Statistics or National Statistics, where possible we follow the Code of Practice for Statistics. The code is built around 3 main concepts, or pillars:

  • trustworthiness – is about having confidence in the people and organisations that publish statistics.
  • quality – is about using data and methods that produce assured statistics.
  • value – is about publishing statistics that support society’s needs for information.

The following explains how we have applied the pillars of the code in a proportionate way.

Trustworthiness

These estimates are published on a regular basis following a fiscal event. They are published on the day of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Public Sector Finance release, in line with Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) practice (except when there is inadequate time for the production and quality assurance of the information, in which case release is deferred until the same day in the following month.)

DWP has regular conversations with OBR who provide challenge and scrutiny to the robustness of the forecasts.

Ministers will see and make decisions on these estimates in the run up to fiscal events, and they will feed into overall OBR estimates of spending, so they cannot be released to all users at the same time.

Quality

Past data is a combination of departmental accounting data, which is audited by the National Audit Office, and data released as, or underpinning, departmental Official or National Statistics.

To ensure accuracy, forecast figures are consistent with the latest forecasts produced by the OBR.

Forecasts and assumptions are compiled by professional analysts taking account of the latest data and applying methods using their professional judgement. These forecasts and assumptions are scrutinised and approved both within DWP and by the independent OBR.

Real terms spending figures are calculated using the latest GDP deflator, so that meaningful comparisons can be made over time.

Value

These figures form the basis of understanding benefit spend and forecast spend.

The figures provide an overview of benefit expenditure and caseload so the public can see how many people receive each benefit and the value of these benefits.

The figures are used to inform the government’s budget. They are used by parliament in the scrutiny of the government’s budget and policy decisions to inform debate and increase the stock of information available to policy makers.

The analysis included has evolved over time to reflect key areas of interest including those identified by members of the public and their representatives.

Making this information accessible helps reduce the administrative burden of answering Parliamentary Questions, Freedom of Information requests and ad hoc queries about benefit expenditure.

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.

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.

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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