Dear Prof Gregg
Review of Population Estimates and Projections produced by ONS
Thank you for your letter on 21 January 2021 regarding your concerns about the household projections produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), following our announcement of plans to review the population estimates and projections produced by ONS. We have published our findings today from this review, which focused on the population estimates and projections in the context of the principles in the Code of Practice for Statistics.
We recognise that the concerns you raised with us related to household projections, which draw on the population estimates and projections, and how they are used in determining housing need. As you know, we chose to focus our review on the population estimates and projections to understand whether the perceived inaccuracies affected other areas of local planning beyond housing need.
While we did not look extensively at household projections, we found that the use of 2014 household projections by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), rather than the most up to date projections, means that any methodological changes made by ONS since 2014 to improve the population estimates are not reflected in the statistics which inform housing need.
The findings of our review will support our imminent compliance checks of household projections in Scotland and Wales, and will inform the direction of further regulatory work we carry out on household projections in England.
Director General for Regulation