OSR Statement on the Trustworthiness, Quality and Value of Long-Term International Migration Estimates

Today, Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation, confirmed that the UK Statistics Authority has concluded that the Migration Statistics Quarterly Report (MSQR) should not be designated National Statistics. Ed Humpherson has written to Iain Bell, Deputy National Statistician, in advance of tomorrow’s MSQR, following a letter from Iain Bell requesting Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) support for reclassification of MSQR to experimental statistics.

OSR, on behalf of the Authority, appreciate ONS’s openness and transparency about the limitations of long-term international migration estimates and the efforts that have been made to improve them. ONS has set out a compelling case for the greater insight provided by drawing on multiple sources of data for long-term international migration estimates, whilst highlighting significant remaining uncertainty, particularly for post-2016 estimates.

Ed Humpherson, Office for Statistics Regulation said: “Following the work undertaken to improve long-term migration estimates we conclude that the Migration Statistics Quarterly Report should no longer be designated National Statistics, and support ONS’s proposal for the next MSQR to be classified as experimental statistics.”

He continued: “It remains critical for decision makers, including politicians, businesses and the public to have robust and reliable migration estimates. I urge ONS and other government departments involved in the population and migration transformation programme to hasten progress and prioritise this development work to improve estimates, whether through data sharing, collaborative research work, or other sharing of expertise and resource.”

 

Notes to Editors

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority. We provide independent regulation of all official statistics produced in the UK assessed against the Code of Practice for Statistics.

For more information please contact 020 7592 8659 or 020 3741 1742, by email, or visit the OSR website.

 

Related Links:

Letter – Ed Humpherson to Iain Bell (August 2019)

Letter – Iain Bell to Ed Humpherson (August 2019)

Statement – Office for National Statistics

Quality and Value of International Migration Statistics – Statement from the Office for Statistics Regulation

The availability of the highest quality international migration estimates to support effective decision making is crucial. The Office for Statistics Regulation has continued to monitor the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS’s) progress as it works with others to improve migration statistics.

On 21 June, ONS published an update on its population and migration statistics transformation programme and the initial progress report on understanding different migration data sources. We welcome this update for users including the ambitions to be more responsive to user needs and provide more coherent statistics.

The work to improve migration statistics supports understanding of the quality and limitations of existing estimates of migration, as well as information on population by country of birth and labour market status by country of birth.

We note the progress report which begins to explore differences in estimates of EU and non-EU migration between the International Passenger Survey (IPS) and the Annual Population Survey (APS). The APS can be used to estimate the total number of people in the household population by country of birth (the “stock” of migrants), looking at changes over time in the stock provides another way of exploring changes in migration. The ONS Long-Term International Migration (LTIM) estimate (based largely on the IPS, an intentions-based survey) aims to measure the number of migrants entering and leaving the country in any given period (the “flow” of migrants) which can also be used to provide an estimate of net migration.

ONS analysis shows that between 2005 and 2018, the change in the APS “stock” gives a much higher estimate of migration from the EU than the LTIM net migration estimate of “flow” from the EU over the same period (2.1 million versus 1.4 million). However, by contrast, for non-EU migrants the change in the APS “stock” is lower than LTIM net migration estimate of “flow” (2.0 million versus 2.8 million). The scale of difference between the two sources varies by country of origin.

The report highlights that definitional differences between the sources contribute to the divergent patterns, but it is unlikely these differences are significant enough to provide the full explanation.

This research, while still in the early stages, raises concerns about the EU and non-EU splits across the different sources. ONS is undertaking further work to inform its understanding of the quality of these different estimates and plans a further update on this in August. We await ONS’s further work to clarify whether these differences have any relationship to other IPS measurement issues. ONS has separately identified an arrivals/departures imbalance for Chinese visitors, where ONS believes that it is under-reporting Chinese visitors’ departures in its IPS-based, overseas travel and tourism statistics.

We welcome ONS’s plans to provide an update to users in August and hope ONS will continue to work with urgency to resolve the considerable uncertainties around these estimates. We consider that ONS must:

  • complete its research into the differences between the migration estimates derived from the IPS and APS without delay;
  • be transparent and open regarding the outcomes of this research, and continue to inform users about the extent of any quality issues as it becomes aware of them; and
  • continue to clearly signpost quality issues within future statistical publications, providing guidance for users on appropriate interpretation.

UK Statistics Authority – PACAC Report Response

Responding to the publication of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) report “Governance of official statistics: redefining the dual role of the UK Statistics Authority; and re-evaluating the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007” an Authority spokesperson said:

“The UK Statistics Authority was established as an independent body and we take very seriously our responsibility to promote and safeguard official statistics. We are pleased that the committee acknowledged the significant improvements we have made to build and maintain trust in official statistics, our unique role and the day to day challenges we face in our work.

“The Authority is reading the Committee’s report with interest. Today’s report contains a number of substantial and detailed recommendations which will require consideration from the Authority’s Board, the Office for Statistics Regulation, and the soon to be appointed National Statistician.

“We will respond to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee in full in due course.”

 

Public confidence in official statistics remains high

Trust in official statistics remains high, according to the latest Public Confidence in Official Statistics report, produced by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) on behalf of the UK Statistics Authority.

The report found that 85% of people who gave a view trusted the statistics produced by ONS, with nearly three in four people agreeing they were produced without any political interference. Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of respondents (24%) said they had used figures produced from the ONS.

However, while trust in the ONS and other public bodies – such as the Courts, Civil Service and Bank of England – was high, at or above 80%, trust in Parliament (46%), government (41%) and the media (19%) were all substantially lower.

In addition, the biggest reason given (by 24% of respondents) for not trusting ONS figures was that they may have been misused by politicians or the media. However, this figure has fallen from 31% in 2016.

There was also an increase in those who believe the Government and media use official figures honestly, rising from 26% in 2016 to 31% in 2018 and 18% to 23% in 2018, respectively.

 

Commenting on the findings, National Statistician John Pullinger said:

“It’s encouraging to see trust in the ONS and its statistics holding up well.

“Increased confidence in both the news media and political figures to present statistics fairly – albeit from a much lower base – also provides some grounds for optimism. We need to build on this until the misuse and distortion of trustworthy statistics becomes not only infrequent but socially unacceptable.”

 

Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation, said:

“It is incredibly important that public confidence in official statistics remains high. These statistics are part of the lifeblood of democracy.

Public confidence depends on the trustworthiness, quality and value of the statistics. That’s why OSR will continue to uphold these pillars of the Code of Practice”

 

Notes to Editors

The National Centre for Social Research, Britain’s largest independent social research organisation, aims to promote a better-informed society through high quality social research (www.natcen.ac.uk).

The Office for National Statistics produces the numbers that matter most– on the economy and business, people, population and communities. Operating impartially and free of political control, we are mobilising the power of data to help Britain make better decisions and improve lives.

To arrange broadcast or print interviews, please contact ONS Media Relations on 0845 604 1858 or 0203 684 5070 or email Media.Relations@ons.gov.uk

Preparing the UK statistical system for a no-deal EU exit

As a responsible body, the UK Statistics Authority is preparing the UK statistical system for a range of EU exit scenarios. As we near March 2019, we – along with many other Government departments – need to set in motion our precautionary no-deal plan.

A draft statutory instrument has now been laid before Parliament, which prepares the UK statistical system for a possible no-deal scenario. It revokes a range of EU laws relating to statistics, which currently oblige the UK to undertake specific statistical activity, and to transmit data to Europe.

We are fortunate in the UK, to have a well-established and robust legal domestic framework. The Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 (SRSA) underpins the UK’s independent statistical system, steers and regulates the production of UK statistics, and ensures they are free from political influence and other bias. It has promoted and safeguarded the UK’s official statistics for over a decade.

Regardless of the UK’s future relationship with the European Union, the UK statistical system will continue to collect, regulate and disseminate statistics under this domestic framework. The Code of Practice for Statistics will continue to safeguard the comparability and continuity of statistics, and producers will continue to work with decision-makers to make sure they have the data they need.

Furthermore, we remain strongly committed to co-operating closely with our colleagues in National Statistical Institutes and other producers of statistics across the EU and beyond to produce high-quality statistics, analysis and advice for the public good.

An Explanatory Memorandum accompanying the Instrument is available.

John Pullinger
National Statistician

Chair of UK Statistics Authority expresses concern about “widespread use” of Retail Prices Index (RPI)

Speaking today, the Chair of the UK Statistics Authority Sir David Norgrove said:

“The RPI is a poor measure of inflation, and today’s publication by the ONS highlights its many problems.

“With this strong evidence for the deficiencies of the RPI, I remain concerned by its widespread use. If people want to measure changing prices they should use other indices such as the CPI or CPIH, which do not suffer the technical weaknesses of the RPI.” 

Notes for editors:

  1. Sir David is the Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, a non-Ministerial Department responsible for “promoting and safeguarding the production and publication of official statistics.”
  2. Sir David’s comments follow the publication of a new report, by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on the shortcomings of the RPI.
  3. For questions about Sir David’s statement, please contact the UK Statistics Authority press office, on 07818 011 583.
  4. For questions about ONS’s report, please contact ONS on 01633 456 589.

Sir David Norgrove takes up office as Chair of the UK Statistics Authority

Sir David Norgrove today takes up office as Chair of the UK Statistics Authority in succession to Sir Andrew Dilnot CBE whose term of office came to a conclusion on 31 March. Sir David has been appointed for a five-year term.

Speaking today, Sir David said:

I am delighted to take on the role as Chair of the UK Statistics Authority and look forward to building on Sir Andrew Dilnot’s outstanding work. 

Well founded data and analysis are more important than ever.  I look forward to working with the Board and colleagues at the UK Statistics Authority to take forward a challenging agenda and to continuing our independent reporting to Parliament via the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee.

I would like warmly to thank Andrew for all he has done to promote the use of evidence and statistics to give new insights about our country and for the way he has spoken out against their misuse. 

For more information please contact +44 (0)7780 222 569 or +44 (0)7795 841 283.


Notes for Editors:

  1. The post of Chair of the UK Statistics Authority is a Crown appointment, made with the approval of Parliament following a pre-appointment hearing before the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee in January 2017 and a formal motion debated on the floor of the House of Commons in March 2017.
  2. Sir David Norgrove is appointed to succeed Sir Andrew Dilnot CBE whose term of office ended on 31 March 2017.
  3. Sir David Norgrove took up post on 1 April 2017 for a five-year term.
  4. The UK Statistics Authority is an independent body operating at arm’s length from government as a non-ministerial department, directly accountable to Parliament. It was established on 1 April 2008 by the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.
  5. The Authority’s statutory objective is to promote and safeguard the production and publication of official statistics that serve the public good. It is also required to promote and safeguard the quality and comprehensiveness of official statistics, and ensure good practice in relation to official statistics.
  6. Further information about the UK Statistics Authority is available on the Authority’s website www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk

About Sir David Norgrove

  1. Sir David Norgrove was Deputy Chair of the Family Justice Board from 2012 until 2016 having chaired it from its inception in 2012.
  2. Sir David is an external member and Deputy Chair of Oxford University Council. Sir David has been a trustee and Deputy Chair of the British Museum, and chaired the Low Pay Commission from 2009 to 2016, the Pensions Regulator from its inception in 2005 until 2010, Risk First from 2012 to 2015 and Amnesty International Charitable Trust from 2008 to 2014.  He chaired a Government review of the family justice system in 2010 – 11.
  3. David began his career as an economist at the Treasury and worked in a Chicago bank before becoming Private Secretary to the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.  He spent 16 years with Marks & Spencer between 1988 and 2004 and became a member of the Board there.
  4. David was knighted in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to the low paid and to family justice.

UK Statistics Authority statement on the use of official statistics on contributions to the European Union

Sir Andrew Dilnot, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority has said today:

  • Given the high level of public interest in the European Union referendum debate, it is vital that official statistics are used accurately, with important caveats and limitations explained.
  • The UK Statistics Authority is disappointed to note that there continue to be suggestions that the UK contributes £350 million to the EU each week, and that this full amount could be spent elsewhere (see Annex A).
  • As we have made clear, the UK’s contribution to the EU is paid after the application of the rebate. We have also pointed out that there are payments received by the UK public and private sectors that are relevant here. The continued use of a gross figure in contexts that imply it is a net figure is misleading and undermines trust in official statistics.

For media enquiries about this statement please contact +44 (0)7818 011 583 or +44 (0)7795 841 283.

 

Annex A

https://twitter.com/vote_leave/status/730415023571542017 as at 11 May 2016

https://twitter.com/vote_leave/status/733199539901988864?lang=en-gb as at 19 May 2016

http://www.voteleavetakecontrol.org/campaign_resources.html as at 25 May 2016

https://twitter.com/vote_leave/status/735380643195064320 (retweet), (original) as at 25 May 2016

 

Notes for Editors:

The UK Statistics Authority is an independent body operating at arm’s length from government as a non-ministerial department, directly accountable to Parliament. It was established on 1 April 2008 by the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.

The Authority’s statutory objective is to promote and safeguard the production and publication of official statistics that serve the public good. It is also required to promote and safeguard the quality and comprehensiveness of official statistics, and ensure good practice in relation to official statistics.

The Authority’s functions relate to its statutory areas of responsibility:

  • oversight of the UK official statistics system, which includes around 30 central government departments and the devolved administrations, and the promotion, safeguarding and monitoring of quality, comprehensiveness and good practice in relation to all official statistics, wherever produced;
  • production of a Code of Practice for Statistics and assessment of official statistics against the Code; and,
  • governance of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) the UK’s National Statistical Institute and the largest producer of official statistics.

Further information about the UK Statistics Authority is available on the Authority’s website: www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk

 

Concerns have been raised with the UK Statistics Authority about continued suggestions that the UK contributes £350 million to the EU each week, and that this full amount could be spent elsewhere. The Authority has set out in recent correspondence listed below the figures which describe different sources of UK contributions to the EU, in particular, Table 9.9 of the Pink Book, which gives the ONS’s best view of the UK’s official payments to and receipts from the EU.

The UK Statistics Authority concluded on 21 April 2016 that the use of the £350 million figure, which is a gross figure which does not take into account the rebate or other flows from the EU to the UK public sector (or flows to non-public sector bodies), alongside the suggestion that this could be spent elsewhere, without further explanation, was potentially misleading.

Recent correspondence with the UK Statistics Authority regarding United Kingdom contributions to the European Union includes:

  • On 24 March 2016 the chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee, Mr Bernard Jenkin MP wrote to the Chair of the Authority regarding the United Kingdom’s contributions to the European Union.

Mr Jenkin MP to the Chair of the Authority

Chair of the Authority to Mr Jenkin MP

 

  • On 15 April 2016 the Rt. Hon Norman Lamb MP wrote to the Chair of the Authority regarding the Vote Leave campaign’s use of statistics in campaign literature.

Rt. Hon Norman Lamb MP to the Chair of the Authority

Chair of the Authority to the Rt. Hon Norman Lamb MP

 

  • On 21 April 2016 Dominic Cummings, Vote Leave, wrote to the Chair of the Authority following the Chair’s correspondence with the Rt. Hon Norman Lamb MP.

Dominic Cummings to the Chair of the Authority

Chair of the Authority to Dominic Cummings

 

  • On 17 May 2016 Dominic Cummings, Vote Leave, wrote to the Chair of the Authority following his reply of 10 May. Today the Authority has published the Chair of the Authority’s response and published a statement setting out the Authority’s position.

Dominic Cummings to the Chair of the Authority

Chair of the Authority to Dominic Cummings

        

   

Correspondence with the UK Statistics Authority can be found at https://www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/correspondence-list/

 

The Office for National Statistics published the ‘UK Perspectives 2016: The UK contribution to the EU budget’ release on 25 May 2016. This is available at http://visual.ons.gov.uk/uk-perspectives-2016-the-uk-contribution-to-the-eu-budget/ and sets out UK contributions to the EU budget.

Statement from National Statistician on the death of Lord Moser

The Statistics Authority is saddened by the news that Lord Moser, previously the Director of the Central Statistical Office and Head of the Government Statistical Service from 1967 to 1978, died on 4 September 2015.

Speaking today, the National Statistician, John Pullinger, said:

“Claus Moser stands as an inspiration to our profession, both inside and outside government.

“He was a towering figure and pioneer. In establishing the Government Statistical Service, he brought our skills to the heart of government decision making. In creating the ground breaking Social Trends publication, he enabled a much wider public to understand and appreciate the insights statistics can bring.

“To me he was a special mentor, always there to provide encouragement and guidance. Along with many others, I will miss him greatly.”

Establishment of Advisory Committees to the National Statistician

The National Statistician has announced the establishment of advisory committees set up to provide advice on consumer price statistics, crime statistics, and the sharing and use of data.

Speaking today, the National Statistician said:

“The Government Statistical Service has a clear mission to deliver high quality statistics, analysis and advice, which keep pace with rapid changes in our economy and society.

“These advisory committees will help me, and my colleagues, to understand the concerns and requirements of a diverse range of individuals, voluntary bodies, private sector organisations, analysts, researchers, and other experts.

“I look forward to working with the newly appointed Chairs of these committees, – Dame Kate Barker, Mr Nick Vaughan, Professor Sir Adrian Smith and Mr Ian Cope – and to receiving the advice of the members that will serve on them. I am expecting that the work of these committees will help us make better informed decisions about future directions for official statistics.”

– ENDS –

For more information, please contact 020 7592 8659 or 020 7592 8645.

 

Notes for editors:

  1. The National Statistician’s Advisory Committees will provide advice in three areas: consumer price statistics, crime statistics, and data ethics.

Advisory Panels on Consumer Prices

  1. The Review of the Governance of Prices Statistics[1] recommended the creation of two advisory panels on consumer prices: a stakeholder panel to advise the National Statistician on the uses and application of prices indices; and, a technical panel to provide advice on technical aspects of the statistics.
  2. Following an open selection process, Dame Kate Barker has been appointed as the Chair of the new Stakeholder Advisory Panel on Consumer Prices.
  3. Dame Kate has previously led an independent review of the UK’s National Accounts and Balance of Payments statistics produced by ONS.
  4. In accordance with the recommendations of the Review of the Governance of Prices Statistics, ONS’s Director of National Accounts and Economic Statistics, Mr Nick Vaughan, has been appointed as Chair of the new Technical Advisory Panel on Consumer Prices.
  5. Dame Kate and Mr Vaughan are currently working with the National Statistician to establish the membership of both panels. The advisory panels are expected to meet for the first time in the summer.

National Statistician’s Crime Statistics Advisory Committee

  1. The committee will advise the National Statistician how best to ensure that official statistics on crime for England and Wales are accurate, clearly presented, comprehensive, transparent and trustworthy taking account of the needs of users and providers.
  2. In March 2015 the National Statistician agreed with the Home Secretary to re-establish the former Crime Statistics Advisory Committee with revised terms of reference that focus the Committee’s accountability to the National Statistician.
  3. Professor Sir Adrian Smith has been appointed to chair the re-established committee.
  4. Sir Adrian is Deputy Chair of the UK Statistics Authority and has a wealth of experience in crime statistics, having led an independent review commissioned by the then Home Secretary in 2006.

National Statistician’s Data Ethics Advisory Committee

  1. The National Statistician’s Data Ethics Advisory Committee is being established to ensure transparency around the access, use and sharing of data. It will provide assurance to the National Statistician, the UK Statistics Authority and the public that their data is used ethically and for the public good.
  2. The Committee will be chaired by the ONS’s Director of Census, Mr Ian Cope.
  3. Mr Cope is currently working with the National Statistician to appoint members to the Committee.
  4. The Committee is expected to meet for the first time in the summer.

[1] Please see: http://www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/reports—correspondence/current-reviews/governance-ofprices-statistics.html.

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