Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation, Office for Statistics Regulation writes to Olivia Christopherson, Head of Statistics, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS)

Dear Olivia,

As you know, we recently started to assess statistics and data from the Community Life Survey (CLS) against the Code of Practice for Statistics. During the assessment, we spent time considering the innovative push-to-web methods used in the survey.

We think that more work is needed to develop the push-to-web method and there are opportunities to increase the value of the statistics and data further. Rather than setting a detailed set of requirements that we anticipate will take considerably longer than six months to complete, we propose to defer the assessment at this stage. We will return to it when you are satisfied the methods are sufficiently developed and are confident in the quality of the resulting statistics and data.

The use of the push-to-web method is new to government and DCMS is leading the way by adopting this approach for the CLS. The published details of the survey’s development contribute to the debate about best practice. Deferring the assessment will allow time for DCMS and the wider Government Statistical Service (GSS) to develop their expertise in these methods, and you are planning to take this work forward with others in the GSS.

You are also exploring how to increase your dialogue with different types of users and considering how to address the strong unmet demand for locally disaggregated data. You have also started to look at the coherence of different data sources that measure aspects of community participation and engagement, which are potentially confusing for people who want to use the statistics. There is the potential for this work on coherence to go further. We recognise that improving coherence and addressing the local data issue will require innovation and creative thinking in the light of your limited resources.

The annex to this letter sets out in more detail our thinking on the trustworthiness, quality and value of the CLS statistics and data, based on our work to date.

Thank you for your openness as we gathered and considered our evidence. We look forward to hearing about your continuing progress to improve the statistics and data from the CLS.

I am copying this letter to Maria Willoughby, Head of Surveys in DCMS and Julie Stanborough, Deputy Director, Best Practice and Impact in ONS, who leads the teams supporting the GSS.

Yours sincerely,

Ed Humpherson

Director General for Regulation