Dear Ed and team,
Would you be able to respond to the questions in my blog:
These are repeated below.
In essence, I am sure you’ll agree that something is not right:
– the UK numbers are differently constructed and not comparable with most other countries, requiring strong warnings
– the UK’s public services responded uniquely poorly to the pandemic
– most other countries are producing lower quality or inflated figures compared to the UK
- Was it right of ONS to introduce new untested methodology into key data at such a critical time?
- How reliable are the new indicators that now drive GDP trends in the UK?
- To what extent did other countries follow suit in adopting new measures?
- Were sufficient warnings given by ONS about the distortion to UK GDP figures, that (probably) rendered them no longer comparable with other countries?
- Does the statistics regulator (OSR) think these GDP numbers are worthy of National Statistics status? (Surely they should be experimental to use their terminology.)
- Does the ONS think that some/most/all other countries produced sub-standard data by not incorporating accurate methodology? (They could choose to do this to hide the true fall in GDP as a result of Covid-19.)
- Or, if all the statistics are fine and comparable, the huge public policy question arises – why did the UK’s public services perform so very badly relative to other countries? What does the NHS, DHSC and DfE think about that and do they agree?
- More broadly, is this another major governance failing by UKSA? Is this a repeat of the 2010 RPI fiasco with the ONS statisticians naively rushing into untested changes without due consideration of the impact on users?
Ed Humpherson response to Simon Briscoe: Concerns regarding ONS GDP statistics during the pandemic