National Statistics designation review

National Statistics Badge in green and blue

Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is exploring how National Statistics designation is understood.

‘National Statistics’ are regarded as the most important official statistics that have been demonstrated to meet the very highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and value, set out in the Code of Practice for Statistics. Only they carry the unique logo of the National Statistics tick mark, having been designated by OSR, as the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority.



As part of our phase 3 research, we would like to hear the views of official statistics producers in relation to four strands of research:

  • Provenance: How can statistics producers show the public that they are applying high professional standards, that the public’s trust is merited?
  • Fitness for purpose: How can statistics producers provide users with clear current information about the quality of the data/statistics to aid users’ choice and interpretation?
  • Value: How can we tell the national life story using National Statistics?
  • Accountability: How can statistics producers show they are held to account?

We have published our findings paper from this producer engagement. We are using this feedback to develop options for the future of the designation and will be arranging further opportunities to input comments. Please do let us know if you are interested in sharing your views by emailing

The project aims are to:

  • to clarify what the NS designation means, and
  • consider the case for making appropriate reforms

We want to re-imagine the designation, if necessary; not just find a different way to do the same thing.

The overarching research questions are:

  • how should the designation be designed to reflect fitness for purpose in a data abundant world?
  • what do customers need from the designation?

The review is divided into three phases. Phase 1 was the exploratory review, with Phases 2 and 3 entailing in-depth research and engagement.

In Phase 2 we examined more fully the nature and usefulness of the National Statistics designation for producers and other stakeholders, to determine whether the designation meets the needs of official statistics in serving the public good in a data abundant world. It focused on understanding the designation better, including the designation’s historical context, an international comparison and how we could learn from other regulators such as their use of rating schemes.

We commissioned academic research about wider regulatory approaches and examined the usefulness of score cards to see how they may help capture and share key information. We looked more deeply into explaining uncertainty and how clearer explanations about limitations may better help users make decisions on whether to use some official statistics. We are continuing this strand of research and will speak with experts and stakeholders to understand effective ways of summarising information that helps users make informed choices by better communicating quality.

Phase 3 began by listening to producers of official statistics about their views of the designation and official statistics more broadly. It involved discussion sessions, webinars and a written consultation. Options are being developed which will be considered further in sessions with producers. We will also engage with statistics intermediaries such as in the media and voluntary sector to hear what matters to them to have confidence in official statistics.

Our steering group comprises experts from a wide range of backgrounds, mostly outside of official statistics to give us insight and challenge as we develop our research. As well as contributing to steering group meetings, individual interviews have been held with each member to help better inform the focus of the designation research.

The project will submit recommendations on the future of the designation to the UK Statistics Authority Board – we expect to complete this work in the autumn.

Please do contact the project team if you have any questions or would like to share your views.


Below is a roadmap that sets out a timeline for the review. The timeline runs from March 2020, to September 2021. There are five stages to the road map.

  1. In March to May 2020, we published our exploratory report, did desk research about context of National Statistics, its history, international comparisons, and about the approach of other regulators.
  2. In June to August 2020, we set up our first steering group meeting, had follow-up conversations, discussed the theory of change, communicated regulatory views, uncertainty, and shared emerging ideas.
  3. In September 2020 to November 2020, we had our second steering group meeting, looked at problem definition, engaged with external experts, communicated to support user choice, and commissioned research about other regulators.
  4. In December 2020 – April 2021, we looked at stakeholder engagement, set up Heads of Profession focus groups, webinars, held conversations with producers, and held workshops  with OSR and Best Practice and Impact in ONS.
  5. In May 2021 to September 2021, we have had our the third steering group meeting, and are now reviewing options, engaging stakeholders – producers, policy makers intermediaries, and will recommend the preferred option to Authority Board.

National Statistics Designation Review 2020-2021 Roadmap

National Statistics designation review




The Steering Group will:

  • Advise on the coherence of OSR’s review activity, including the extent to which planned work will meet the aim of clarifying the meaning of the designation and determining the case for appropriate reforms, and how the impact of clarifying the designation might be evaluated
  • Suggest ideas for further analysis and external contacts who OSR might usefully approach
  • Challenge OSR’s approach to managing the risks associated with the review
  • Comment on research of review activity – both discussion papers and the final report to the Regulation Committee.
  • Advise on the communication of the review, particularly in relation to the implementation of any proposed changes to the designation


  • Helen Boaden (Chair, Non-executive Director, UKSA)
  • Ed Humpherson (DG for Regulation, OSR)
  • Ian Diamond (National Statistician)
  • Richard Laux (Cabinet Office)
  • Guy Parker (Advertising Standards Authority)
  • Allan Leonard (FactCheck NI)
  • Emma White (University of London)
  • Peter Matejic (Joseph Rowntree Foundation)
  • Kate Barker (Economist)
  • Julian McCrae (Institute for Government)


Please get in touch

We would like to hear from users, producers and other stakeholders with a keen interest in sharing their ideas.

Feel free to contact the project team – Penny Babb and Catherine Bremner – at any time by emailing