Systemic Review Programme

This page gives an overview of ongoing and planned projects designed to improve the public value of UK statistics; it begins with the newest work:

  • Classifications – The Office of National Statistics (ONS) determines how public spending should be classified for statistical purposes. This can have wide impacts on key economic statistics, as well as consequential impacts on the resourcing of government-sponsored projects over many years. We will examine the processes and governance of classification decision-making around what is inside and outside of the public sector for the purposes of public sector finances. We will focus on the value classifications advice from ONS adds to decision-making about funding public projects, the roles of the various committees, how classification work plans are decided and who they’re decided by.
  • Skills – We are exploring the availability and accessibility of data about post-16 education and skills statistics, to understand what questions society is asking, where there are gaps in the data and what might be done to fill any gaps. We have published an outline of our approach.
  • Adult social care – We have heard from users that there is a growing need for statistics to understand how social care operates including issues of waiting times, access routes, funding, effectiveness, staffing and client experience. Such information is necessary to inform policy, and workforce and budget allocation particularly in local government. As set out in the published outline, the systemic review will explore the adult social care statistics landscape across the UK to better understand the strengths and weaknesses, and share learning across the four nations, recognising the devolved policy variations that have led to differences in how statistics are produced.
  • Public finances in a devolved UK – Statistics users in the devolved nations have told us that due to the changing financial environment there is a need to enhance the coherence and transparency of statistics on their public finances. These statistics should enable the public to hold decision-makers to account for big investment decisions made on their behalf. We will review the existing provision and plans for new data in this area; our approach is shown in our published outline.
  • Children and Young people – We are currently scoping a project to look at the extent to which the UK statistics system is alive to issues for children and young people. This will include looking at whether the system is responsive to users’ needs for data in this area, whether the statistics are relevant in helping public understanding of children’s circumstances and how transparent the system is around choices being made in data collection and analysis with an implication for analysis of age. An outline of the work we envisage will be published in August/ September 2018.
  • Data linkage – With the Digital Economy Act representing a notable development in the UK’s statistical system, we have been exploring the opportunities this presents to improve the public value of statistics and identifying potential barriers and how these might be overcome. We have published an outline of the approach we have taken to this piece of work and findings are now due to be published in July 2018.
  • UK Crime and justice statistics – We published our view of the Public value of crime and justice statistics across the UK. As a follow-up we discussed with producer organisations how collaboration across the different UK administrations and data sharing between organisations can further increase the value of these statistics. Producer organisations have come together in a crime and justice working group to take this forward. We will publish an update on their progress in late summer 2018. We have spoken to stakeholders as part of a more detailed exploration of UK statistics on justice and published our view of the Public value of justice statistics in July 2018.
  • Housing and planning – We spoke to over 60 stakeholders in exploring the public value of housing statistics in the UK, and published our findings in November 2017. In February 2018, we wrote publicly to the Deputy National Statistician for Population and Public Policy; the Head of Profession for Statistics at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government; the Chief Statisticians for Wales and Scotland; and the Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, to follow up on our report and to recognise the steps being taken to address the review’s findings. In May 2018, statistics producers published a blog and accompanying Cross Government Housing and Planning Statistics Work Programme, setting out a high level timetable for improvements to these statistics, in response to our findings and wider developments identified  – we responded publicly in  June 2018 to welcome this Programme. We will seek an update on progress in Autumn 2018.
  • International migration – We have been exploring the extent to which the available statistics on international migration meet the needs of society and what might be done to fill any gaps. We held a roundtable meeting in October 2017 with stakeholders interested in migration, employment and business and another in November 2017 on the topic of migration and local public service delivery. Our summary report provides details of the roundtables’ main findings, actions, our recommendations and next steps. We made a commitment to publish an update on the outcomes of the roundtable; we are currently reviewing the progress made by statistics producers and expect to publish this update in July/August.
  • Innovations in statistics in the Children, Education and Skills (CES) area  – We have published the results of a light touch review of Innovation and Improvement applicable to statisticians in all thematic areas, through an introductory blog, an article exploring the role of  collaboration in innovation, an article about alternatives to traditional statistics reports  and finally, a blog about overcoming barriers to innovation. We are exploring how we can further support producers of statistics to improve and innovate.
  • The Coherence and Accessibility of Official Statistics on Income and Earnings – This area of work aims to generate improvements in the public value of official statistics on income and earnings. Our report, published in February 2015, highlighted issues including the gaps in measurement of income from self-employment and gave recommendations for ONS, DWP and HMRC to address. While there have been some notable improvements against the recommendations since then, as summarised in our January 2016 update and subsequent exchanges of correspondence with ONS, there remain some important issues to address. Our March 2018 letter to Jonathan Athow outlined these: making analyses more accessible, forming a cross-producer strategy to answer key questions about income and earnings, and engaging with users over developments. In June 2018, we held a workshop with ONS, DWP and HMRC statisticians and digital experts to discuss options for improving the accessibility and coherence of the statistics in this area. We expect an update on plans from the producers shortly.
  • Statistics and City Regions – we proposed and co-hosted a roundtable event in March 2016 and a note on the roundtable’s outcomes  has been published. Building on this, there was an ONS/ Centre for Cities public policy forum on ‘Data for Devolution’ in October 2016 and we said we would monitor improvements for at least a year. We have now reviewed progress and spoken to some stakeholders and in July 2018 written to ONS on this and published our findings.
  • Health and care statistics in England – To improve the coherence and accessibility of health and social care statistics in England, we have engaged with the system intensively over the past two years, with staff from the Office for Statistics Regulation convening and leading three Round Table meetings and two conferences. In direct response to our work, the English Health Statistics Steering Group has been set up and developed an Action Plan to address the issues raised; there have also been some improvements to statistical outputs. We have published a report on progress made and sent a letter to producers, setting out a series of recommendations which they need to act on to maintain momentum. Progress against these recommendations will be reviewed as part of our 2018/19 Regulatory Portfolio. We will also use compliance checks and assessments to look at statistical outputs and how they are developing.

We will keep the programme of systemic reviews under regular review. If you have any comments or suggestions, please email Kerstin Hinds   or telephone: 01329 447700

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