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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.