The Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes statistics and data on the transactions of particular groups of institutions (sectors) within the UK economy in its publications Quarterly National Accounts (QNA), UK Economic Accounts (UKEA) and, since March 2016, in the stand-alone publication Quarterly Sector Accounts (QSA). ONS’s decision to add QSA to this suite of economic publications was based on feedback from users that they would welcome more-detailed sector commentary. Since there is little room in QNA to add such commentary, and UKEA does not provide a platform for commentary, ONS moved all commentary on sector accounts to QSA in March 2016.

The UK Statistics Authority confirmed the National Statistics (NS) designation of the statistics on quarterly sector accounts, Real Household Disposable Income (RHDI) and the saving ratio presented in QNA and UKEA in October 2016. Since ONS is re-presenting the same statistics in this new bulletin with the addition of commentary, this report addresses a query from ONS about whether the Authority might also designate the statistics in QSA as NS. This report is prepared under the provisions of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.

The Quarterly Sector Accounts have the potential to provide high levels of public value as information that aids assessment of the economy. The statistics have a wide range of users, including the Bank of England, the Office for Budget Responsibility, and various businesses and research institutions. The sectors are major economic actors, and examining the movements in the transactions between them makes the National Accounts more meaningful. It can help detect pressures arising in the economy, for example, ‘a housing bubble’, ‘deleveraging’ by households or the need to restrict or encourage credit. Analysts are particularly interested in the household sector, as Household Final Consumption accounts for 60 per cent or more of GDP, and an understanding of the patterns and drivers of household debt can provide insights into the condition of the UK economy as a whole.