Confirmation of National Statistics status.

Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation, Office for Statistics Regulation  to Jonathan Athow, Deputy National Statistician, Office for National Statistics.

We have reviewed the actions that ONS has taken in response to our Assessment Report number 335 on the statistics in Regional Gross Value Added (Income and Production Approaches).

On behalf of the Board of the Statistics Authority, I am pleased to confirm the designation of these as National Statistics. During this assessment ONS staff involved in implementing the enhancements arising from this assessment have shown enthusiasm and commitment to improving the value and quality of these statistics. We welcome particularly the positive approach taken to seek out ways to further improve the statistics and to engage with the many users of the statistics.

The Bean Review of Economic Statistics set many challenges to ONS in making economic statistics fit our modern economy, not least of which were to develop good economic statistics for devolved nations, regions and local areas. ONS’s response to the findings of this assessment has demonstrated how well it is meeting users’ needs for better statistics on local economic growth to support better decision making. The range and quality of the economic data in this space are very impressive.

I have been struck by ONS’s response to our findings and applying a different method for deflating the GVA from imputed rent. The influence of the different rates of house price inflation as a contributor to divergence between the growth in R-GVA across the nations and regions has been investigated and significant progress has been made in making better estimates. I found admirable the industry review into new ways of regionalising the GVA of the Finance and Insurance industry and using new sources of data. I very much look forward to seeing the fruits of these investigations on the estimates of R-GVA for this important industry.

During the assessment some users shared with us concerns about the degree to which regional GVA estimates are based on observed, estimated and modelled data. The article that ONS published following our assessment about the degree to which the statistics are based on estimated data and the extent to which modelled estimates are used is an excellent first step in addressing users’ concerns. I would encourage you to highlight the findings from this work alongside your next publication of these statistics.

We have included more detail about our judgement in an annex to this letter. I, or my team, would be very happy to talk you or colleagues through any aspects of this letter, the annex or Code compliance more generally.

National Statistics status means that official statistics meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and value and is something to be celebrated. We invite you to include a statement alongside the statistics which reflects this status.

Please feel free to discuss any aspect of this with us at any time. I am copying this letter to Debra Prestwood, Head of Profession for Statistics at ONS and Trevor Fenton, Head of Regional Accounts at ONS.

Yours sincerely,

Ed Humpherson