I am writing regarding issues that have come to my attention linked to a parliamentary question response asking for information on how many people were given leave to remain in the UK subject to the no recourse to public funds condition in 2019. I thank you for engaging with my team on these matters.
I am pleased to hear that you are taking steps to improve the processes within the Home Office when responding to parliamentary questions which relate to statistical matters. I will expect to see clearer explanations and clarity over the standards required when producing data and statistics, as set out in the Code of Practice for Statistics, in the future. Whether through parliamentary question responses or any other communications from the Home Office regarding the ability to meet user need for data and statistics, fuller explanations should be provided, being transparent about the reasons for the decisions made and any constraints.
As I understand, you do not consider that an accurate answer of sufficient quality can be provided at this time. I acknowledge your professional judgement on this matter. I believe you are taking action to further investigate these data quality issues. I welcome that development and ask you to work with urgency to take this forward.
The data requested relates to an important policy area and there is clear demand for information on this topic. While you progress work to understand data quality and consider what analyses may be possible – taking account of user needs – I suggest you look to provide alternative data or estimates that may help inform the issue. Recognising that these estimates may have limitations and be of poorer quality, users should be provided with clear guidance to support appropriate use of this data.
We will continue to engage with you and your team as work progresses.
Director General for Regulation
Sir David Norgrove response to Stephen Timms MP