A key aim of the Office for Statistics Regulation is to be more systemic. We want to focus not on individual sets of statistics in isolation, but to look at how they are used alongside other datasets. This reflects our ambition to be champions of relevant statistics in a changing world.

Statistics on migration is an area that is ripe for this approach. We have been looking at migration statistics from several angles, reviewing  different aspects of migration. We have assessed the National Insurance numbers for adult overseas nationals statistics produced by the Department for Work and Pensions. We are reviewing the ONS’s estimates of student migration in the International Passenger Survey. And we are also looking at the way in which the ONS’s Labour Force Survey estimates the number of non-UK participants in the UK labour market. We will publish the results of these reviews over the coming months, starting next Thursday (26th January) with our assessment of National Insurance numbers for adult overseas nationals.

But when we produce this work we will also reiterate a broader point. There are a range of migration-related datasets available across different Government departments, including those from HMRC, DWP, ONS and the Home Office. The key to a comprehensive picture lies in bringing these datasets together. We will therefore emphasise the crucial role that John Pullinger plays as National Statistician in ensuring that there is a joined-up approach across Government.

This will build on the letter I wrote to John last March emphasising the importance of a comprehensive, coherent picture of migration. As I said then “it is particularly important that the different sets of data are brought together in a coherent way, fully quality assured and published in an orderly manner, to paint as full a picture as possible of the patterns of migration”. In 2017, we will continue to encourage a coherent approach to one of the most important areas of statistics in contemporary public debate.