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  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.

Review of economic statistics

Professor Sir Charles Bean’s review of economic statistics has this morning published its final report.

Speaking today Sir Andrew Dilnot, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, welcomed the report’s recommendations:

“The Authority welcomes Sir Charles’s recommendations, which set out a compelling vision for economic statistics and alongside the Authority strategy Better Statistics, Better Decisions, will help to deliver high quality economic statistics.

The Authority will now take time to read and consider the report and its findings.”

For media enquiries about the work of the Office for National Statistics and the production of economic statistics please contact 0845 604 1858.

For media enquiries about the work of the UK Statistics Authority, Regulation and Governance please contact 07818 011 583 / 07795 841 283.

Assessment: Statistics on Consumer Price Inflation including Owner Occupiers’ Housing Costs

Today the UK Statistics Authority has published its independent Assessment of statistics on Consumer Price Inflation including Owner Occupiers’ Housing Costs (CPIH).

In August 2014, the National Statistics status of the CPIH was discontinued after issues emerged relating to the processing of some of the administrative data sources used to estimate Owner Occupiers’ Housing costs.

In today’s report, the Authority’s regulatory function concludes that the CPIH does not meet the standards to be a National Statistic, and that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) needs to do more to establish the credibility of, and user confidence in, the CPIH. The report identifies three main areas of concern:

  • ONS needs to take more time to strengthen its quality assurance of its private rents data sources, in order to provide reassurance to users about the quality of the CPIH.
  • ONS should monitor how the CPIH behaves over time and compare it to other data sources over a longer period of time. It should produce supporting analysis and explanation that facilitates users’ understanding of the statistics and what they measure.
  • There is some disagreement among users about the concepts and methods that ONS uses to measure Owner Occupiers’ Housing costs within the CPIH. ONS needs to do more to explain and articulate its own judgements about the concepts and methods that it uses, and could engage more positively and openly with a wide range of users, including interested users that have a range of opinions not necessarily in accord with ONS’s own views.

Ed Humpherson, the UK Statistics Authority’s Director General for Regulation, said:

“National Statistics status is only granted to those statistics that meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and value. Today’s Assessment report finds that the CPIH does not yet meet these standards.

“In addressing the issues set out in this report, I will be looking for ONS to set a clear direction for the future of the CPIH.  The requirements we have set focus on a range of areas for improvement. In particular, ONS should strengthen its quality assurance; monitor trends over time; and do more to engage effectively with a wide range of users.”

For media enquiries about this Statement please contact: +44 (0) 7818 011 583.


Notes for editors:

  1. 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.
  2. One of the Authority’s main functions is to provide independent regulation of all official statistics produced in the UK.
  3. The Authority’s primary statutory power, as regulator, is to confer or remove the National Statistics designation.
  4. National Statistics status is only granted to those official statistics that meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and public value, as demonstrated during an independent Assessment by the Authority’s regulator function.
  5. The Authority removed the National Statistics status from the CPIH in August 2014. For more information, please visit: https://www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/correspondence/consumer-price-indices-including-housing-costs-cpih-indicator/
  6. Since the beginning of 2014, the Authority’s regulatory function has removed the National Statistics designation on 20 occasions. Seven of these de-designations have involved ONS statistics, six of them economic outputs. Major economic outputs which have been de-designated include trade statistics, CPIH, construction output, and construction prices.  A full list of de-designations is published on the UK Statistics Authority’s website at: https://www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/monitoring-and-assessment/assessment/register-of-de-designations/

Review of economic statistics: Interim Report

Professor Sir Charles Bean’s review of economic statistics has this morning published its interim findings.

Speaking today Sir Andrew Dilnot, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, welcomed the interim report:

“This review sets out a bold vision for the future of economic statistics.

“The Authority welcomes Sir Charles’s interim recommendations, which will help ensure that economic statistics continue to provide a firm evidence base for decision making.

“We look forward to the final report, and will consider its conclusions carefully in preparing our plans for the coming years.”

For media enquiries about this Statement please contact 07795 841 283.

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.”

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.”

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

Public confidence in official statistics

NatCen Social Research has today published the results of a survey of public confidence in official statistics, commissioned by the UK Statistics Authority.(1) Among the survey’s findings are that:

  • 71 per cent of the public think that official statistics should be made equally available to everybody at the same time. Only 25 per cent think that the current rules for ‘pre-release access’, where Government Ministers and their advisers are shown official statistics before they are released, should continue.
  • 88 per cent of those who expressed an opinion trusted the ONS as an institution. The level of public trust in ONS is broadly similar to the levels of public trust in the National Statistics Institutes of Australia, Sweden and Denmark, as reported in similar surveys.
  • Only 28 per cent of those who expressed an opinion agreed that ‘Government presents official figures honestly when discussing its policies’.

Speaking today, Sir Andrew Dilnot, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, encouraged the reconsideration of the pre-release access rules. He said:

“These new survey results indicate a level of public trust in ONS that is encouraging, but confusion and distrust about the way official statistics are used remains an issue.

“The current pre-release access given to Ministers and their advisers undermines public confidence in official statistics. The UK’s arrangements for pre-release access fall a long way short of international best practice. The UK Statistics Authority believes that official statistics should be available at the same time for everybody and that pre-release access should be ended.”

For media enquiries about this Statement please contact 07411 212300.


  1. NatCen press release.
    Full report: http://www.natcen.ac.uk/our-research/research/public-confidence-in-official-statistics/

Coherence and Accessibility of Official Statistics on Income and Earnings

Today, the UK Statistics Authority has published a report on The Coherence and Accessibility of Official Statistics on Income and Earnings . This work, carried out as part of the Authority’s monitoring programme, considers the way in which official statistics on income and earnings are presented.

This report finds there are a wide range of income and earning statistics already available. However, this information is not always as coherent or accessible as it could be in order to provide a clear and comprehensive understanding of how levels and trends in income and earnings in the UK are changing over time.

The report recognises that measuring income and earnings is not straightforward, and that statisticians across the UK are already tackling some of these issues. It recommends that the Government Statistical Service, under the leadership of the National Statistician, builds on this work to:

  • Engage with stakeholders to address the limited availability and timeliness of statistics on self employment;
  • Consider how best to provide users with more themed analyses in a way that remains current and sustainable, and provide users with an overall picture drawing the various sources together into a coherent whole; and
  • Improve the accessibility of statistics available and their underpinning data, with better guidance on their strengths and limitations.

Ed Humpherson, the Statistics Authority’s Director General for Regulation, said:

“Our recommendations set out how this goal might be achieved in the short and medium term. We have received much invaluable and expert advice throughout our research, and we believe that significant advancements to current income and earnings statistics are possible if producers continue to work collaboratively.”

“Fully understanding how income and earnings are changing over time is incredibly important, and tracking income and earnings is essential to inform these trends. We want to be sure official statistics producers are using the right statistics to communicate this complex story to Parliament, policy makers and the public”.

Responding to the report, John Pullinger, the National Statistician, said:

“I welcome this report and believe it gives us a real opportunity to find ways to make income and earnings statistics as helpful as they can be to the people who use them.

“There is much good work underway. The new quarterly ONS Economic Wellbeing release and our planned consultation on UK consumer prices following the Johnson Review will contribute to improving our understanding of this important field. I look forward to working with users and producers over the coming months, to build on what has already been achieved to make further improvements to these important statistics.”

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