OSR statement on fraud statistics

There are two main statistical sources which report on fraud: police recorded crime and the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW). The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is clear that the CSEW provides the best indication of the volume of fraud offences experienced by individuals. Most of these offences do not come to the attention of the police and as a result police recorded crime gives a limited picture of fraud. Police recorded crime figures include fraud offences recorded by Action Fraud. The CSEW, as a household survey, records crimes experienced by individuals. The Times article published this week, illustrates the complexities of fraud and recording it as a crime.

The ONS quarterly crime statistics bulletin for England and Wales section nine, highlights the various sources and their strengths and limitations. The bulletin clearly sets out key differences and provides insight on which source provides the better measure for each situation. It includes reference to data collected by UK Finance which gives a fuller picture of card and bank account fraud. It is clear in this publication that the best indication on the number of fraudulent offences committed against individuals, such as those highlighted in the article, is provided within the CSEW.

In 2014, the UK Statistics Authority removed the National Statistics designation from police recorded crime statistics to signal to users their limitations in terms of quality. The CSEW remains a National Statistic. Concerns about the administrative recording of fraud highlighted by the article are consistent with these judgements about National Statistics status.

UK Statistics Authority Safeguards Statistics

The UK Statistics Authority has today published its Annual Review of Casework.

Making public statements about the dissemination and use of statistics has been an important part of the Authority’s work since it began. In this work, the Authority is guided by its statutory objective to promote and safeguard official statistics.

The Office for Statistics Regulation investigates all cases reported to the Authority by members of the public, politicians, the media and third sector-organisations, as well as issues we identify ourselves.

This year’s annual review finds:

  • Although the number of cases investigated by the Authority has risen, there have been fewer cases in which we have identified a clear misuse of statistics;
  • Across some themes, including economic statistics, we are seeing fewer concerns raised about statistics production, suggesting improving trust in official data;
  • There continues to be concern about the production of health and social care statistics; and
  • Over the course of the year we have seen an emergence in concerns raised regarding education funding data.

Commenting on the publication of this annual review Sir David Norgrove, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, said:

“This year the public, politicians and the media all played their part in raising cases with the UK Statistics Authority about the use and dissemination of statistics. But what we have found – and this may surprise some – is that the blatant misuse of statistics among politicians and members of the media is really quite rare.

“Of course we are looking carefully at those instances in which concerns persist. Reflecting on our casework, as well as our wider knowledge, the UK Statistics Authority will continue to think carefully about how it can improve the UK’s evidence base, including in important areas such as health and social care, and education funding.”

Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation, added:

“Casework is an extremely important element of our daily regulatory business and this report highlights the key issues we have identified proactively and reactively to independently stand up for statistics as a public asset. The Office for Statistics Regulation remains dedicated to enhancing public confidence in the trustworthiness, quality and value of statistics as set out by the Code of Practice, celebrating when the standards are upheld and challenging publicly when they are not.”


See also:

Annual Review of Authority Casework, 2017 to 2018

UK Statistics Authority Statement on the future of the RPI

The Advisory Panel on Consumer Prices provided advice to the National Statistician on the composition of the Retail Prices Index (RPI) in light of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee report Measuring Inflation, published in January 2019.

Taking account of that advice, the then National Statistician concluded that the current position was unsatisfactory and put options for the future of the RPI to the UK Statistics Authority Board on 26 February 2019.

After receiving this advice, Sir David Norgrove, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, wrote on behalf of the Board to the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer on 4 March 2019 with the following recommendations:

  • that the publication of the RPI be stopped at a point in future; and
  • in the interim, the shortcomings of the RPI should be addressed by bringing the methods of the CPIH into it.

Today the Chancellor has announced his intention to consult on whether to bring the methods in CPIH into RPI between 2025 and 2030, effectively aligning the measures. The UK Statistics Authority will consult on the method of making this change.

Speaking today, Sir David said:

“The role of the UK Statistics Authority is to promote and safeguard official statistics.

“We have been clear that the RPI is not a good measure, at times significantly overestimating inflation and at other times underestimating it, and have consistently urged all – in Government and the private sector – to stop using it. However, the RPI is unique as we need consent from the Chancellor to make certain changes, such as the one we have proposed.

“Although we regret that no change will occur before 2025, we welcome the Chancellor’s intention to consult on resolving current issues with the RPI.

“We continue to urge the Government and others to cease to use the RPI. It would be wrong for the Government to continue to use a measure of inflation which it itself accepts is flawed, where it has the opportunity to change.”


Notes to Editors

  1. Under Section 21 of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007, before making any change to the coverage or the basic calculation of the RPI, the UK Statistics Authority must consult the Bank of England. Where proposed changes to the RPI are deemed material and detrimental to relevant gilt holders by the Bank of England, changes cannot be made without the consent of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
  2. Under Section 21, Sir David Norgrove wrote to the Governor of the Bank of England on 18 February and the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 4 March, proposing:
    1. that the publication of the RPI be stopped at a point in future; and
    2. in the interim, that shortcomings of the RPI be addressed, by bringing the methods of the CPIH into the index.
  3. His letters drew both on the formal advice of the UK’s National Statistician, and on the advice of the National Statistician’s Advisory Panel on Consumer Prices.
  4. The Bank of England responded on 4 March to confirm changes proposed were material and detrimental to holders of relevant gilts.
  5. Following the appointment of a new Chancellor, Sir David Norgrove wrote to the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP on 30 July 2019, highlighting the importance of the issue and the need to resolve at the earliest practical occasion.
  6. The Chancellor responded to the UK Statistics Authority’s proposals on 4 September 2019. In his response, the Chancellor announced his intention to consult on the timing of when to bring the methods in CPIH into RPI, effectively aligning the measures, to give users time to prepare for the many complex effects such a change will have.
  7. Sir David has responded to the Chancellor welcoming the intention to consult, while expressing regret that no change will occur before 2025.  He has also urged users to cease using the RPI.
  8. In 2030 the requirement for the Authority to consult the Chancellor before making changes to the coverage or calculation of the RPI falls away.
  9. While the current Authority Board cannot commit its successors, the statistical weaknesses of the RPI make it unlikely that the Authority would take a different view from our recommendations in 2030
  10. The Authority has also published its response to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee.



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.
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