The Office for Statistics Regulation encourages ONS to enhance employment and jobs statistics

Today, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has published its National Statistics assessment report on the employment and jobs statistics produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The report highlights the need for statistics on employment and jobs to reflect changes in the labour market and the wider economy. The COVID-19 outbreak is likely to have a significant impact on the economy and will inevitably be a further source of change to the labour market, and ONS is taking sensible steps to adapt its data collection approach to this unprecedented situation.

Employment and jobs statistics are key economic indicators that are essential for understanding the patterns and dynamics of the UK labour market. They are used widely by the UK Government, the Bank of England and wider users in society to develop and monitor government policies.

The report finds that:

  • There is an increasing demand to capture all aspects of employment and jobs statistics, for example, measures of job quality and data on the self-employed.
  • Uncertainty is not properly reflected in the messaging, meaning readers might jump to the conclusion that the figures are more precise than they really are.

Each of these issues is likely to be magnified by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation, said:

“Our report identifies areas of good practice. We also find a need for honest recognition of the uncertainty around the headline figures on employment, and an increasing demand for good quality data on self-employment, measures of job quality, vacancies and data on emerging industries and sectors.”

He concluded:

“OSR recognises that these improvements create a challenge for ONS, especially at the current time when COVID-19 is dramatically changing the way that Labour Force Survey data are collected. We support ONS’s  work to maintain data quality while prioritising the protection of the health of survey respondents and the interviewer field force during the current crisis. We also recognise that the short-term response may influence data collection and statistical production beyond the lifespan of the outbreak. We encourage ONS to ensure that users are fully informed of the latest developments, and implications for the use of the statistics.”

  END

 

Notes to Editors

  • The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority. We provide independent regulation of all official statistics produced in the UK assessed against the Code of Practice for Statistics. The Code of Practice for Statistics applies to everyone in an organisation producing official statistics, including senior leaders, policy professionals, communications staff and other analysts. Official statistics should be compiled to the highest standards of quality to ensure decision-making is based on sound evidence.
  • We assess statistics against the standards set out in the Code of Practice for Statistics. Under legislation, assessment is the only tool that allows us to confer National Statistics status on official statistics. We must assess compliance with the Code in response to requests made by a producer in relation to any official statistic. National Statistics status tells users that the statistics comply with the Code and meet and the highest standards of Trustworthiness, Quality and Value.

Statistics are an essential public asset. OSR ensures public confidence in the trustworthiness, quality and value of statistics produced by government. For more information please contact Suzanne Halls on 07411 212300, email or visit the OSR website.

 

Related Links:

Assessment of the UK employment and jobs statistics (March 2020)

Assessment Report: UK employment and jobs statistics (March 2020)

Devolved Labour Market Compliance Check (March 2020)

COVID-19 and the regulation of statistics

Today, The Director General for Statistics Regulation has made the following statement:

“This is a very difficult time for everyone as the UK adjusts to rapid changes in society and the economy. The priority is to protect the health and safety of individuals – including through changing working patterns and practices – and to support the information needs of society.

“Organisations that produce official statistics are rightly showing flexibility and adapting what they collect and publish to respond to this new environment. The Office for Statistics Regulation fully supports this flexibility and the responsiveness shown by producers of statistics.

“We have prepared a package of measures including guidance on factors that producers should consider when making changes to data collection, statistics production and release. We have also set out an approach to rapid regulatory reviews, potentially including National Statistics status, for any new outputs published by producers which inform the public about the coronavirus and its economic and social impacts. We will support sensible changes to existing production practices.”

The Office for Statistics Regulation calls for better adult social care data for England to understand the experience of individuals getting social care

Today, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has published its findings from an in-depth review of Adult Social Care statistics in England.

The need for good data to support delivery of adult social care should not be underestimated. While there is rightly a focus on delivery, a scarcity of funding has led to under investment in data and analysis, making it harder for individuals and organisations to make informed decisions.

This needs to be addressed. The need for information is increasing as society evolves and the demands on social care services over coming years look set to increase. Improved data matters in solving problems, supporting efficiency and maximising outcomes. It is also important to inform decisions made by individuals about the care they receive or provide for themselves and their families.

Our review highlighted three main areas for attention:

  • Better leadership and collaboration across the many different organisations involved in the process of publishing official statistics on social care, that enables working across boundaries to join-up government departments, local authorities and between public and private sector providers;
  • Gaps in available data as most information available comes from local authorities with responsibilities for adult social services and does not cover private household expenditure, privately funded care or the value of unpaid care causing limited knowledge of individuals care journeys and outcomes; and
  • Improving existing official statistics through accessibility, coherence, quality, timeliness and granularity of the data to provide insight and allow existing data to better meet user needs.

Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation said:

Data matters in solving problems, supporting efficiency and improving outcomes and we want to see stronger leadership and collaboration across government to enable better data on adult social care.

He continued:

“I am responsible for regulating data across economics, employment, health and more and it is social care that stands out by far for its low quality or even absent data. We need parity of measurement to have parity of policy. This is particularly significant when comparing social care to the data rich health system”.

 

END

New ‘Voluntary Application Award’ to be Celebrated at the RSS Statistical Excellence Awards 2020

The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) is delighted to introduce a new award for its 2020 Statistical Excellence Awards; the Voluntary Application Award. Given in partnership with the Office for Statistics Regulation, we are also pleased to announce that Civil Service World are the media partner for the award.

This award rewards excellence in the voluntary application of the ‘pillars’ of Trustworthiness, Quality and Value (TQV) that stand at the heart of the Code of Practice for Statistics. ‘Voluntary application’ was introduced in 2018 by the Office for Statistics Regulation alongside the publication of its refreshed Code of Practice for Statistics. This is where an organisation commits to Trustworthiness, Quality and Value in how it produces and releases information even if the information is not classified as official statistics. This is available for organisations outside Government, and also for Government organisations publishing other types of information like research and open data.

Entrants will need to demonstrate how they meet each of the following criteria:

  • A stated commitment to applying TQV in producing and sharing their information
  • Examples of how TQV have been applied to innovate or improve their information or processes
  • A demonstration of how public value has been enhanced by their application of the pillars

Judged by an expert judging panel, the winner and runners-up will be announced at the RSS’s annual Statistical Excellence Awards ceremony in London on 12 May 2020.

Download the entry form online and submit your entries by 16 February 2020.

Baroness Onora O’Neill of Bengarve, leading judge for the award commented:

“This new award is an exciting opportunity for those pioneering organisations that have voluntarily applied the Code to their statistics to gain additional recognition for their public commitment to high quality and trustworthiness.”

Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation, UK Statistics Authority, said:

“I am delighted this award for voluntary application has been created to recognise the fantastic work that has been undertaken by a wide range of organisations, in applying the principles of the Code and enhance the public value for their users.”

Hetan Shah, Executive Director, Royal Statistical Society, said:

“The RSS is delighted to partner with the Office for Statistics Regulation on this new award. It’s important that statistics are credible, and this award will highlight those organisations that are voluntarily holding their statistics to a high benchmark.”

ENDS

 

Editors Notes

For further information please email va-award@rss.org.uk

The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) is a charity and professional membership organisation that promotes the importance of statistics and data. We are a community of around 10,000 statisticians and data analysts with a vision of a world where data are at the heart of understanding and decision making.

Founded in 1834, we are one of the world’s most distinguished and renowned statistical societies with a global membership community of over 10,000 members who help us promote statistics, data and evidence for the public good.

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority. We provide independent regulation of all official statistics produced in the UK assessed against the Code of Practice for Statistics. The Code of Practice for Statistics applies to everyone in an organisation producing official statistics, including senior leaders, policy professionals, communications staff and other analysts. Official statistics should be compiled to the highest standards of quality to ensure decision-making is based on sound evidence.

Voluntary application of the Code is for any producer of data, statistics and analysis which are not official statistics, whether inside government or beyond, to help them produce analytical outputs that are high quality, useful for supporting decisions, and well respected. For more information about the Code of Practice, a list of the organisations that have already made a public commitment to VA and how it can be applied please visit the online Code site.

The Office for Statistics Regulation calls for action to improve official rail passenger satisfaction measure

Today, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has published its National Statistics assessment report, covering National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) statistics produced by Transport Focus.

Following this assessment OSR has concluded that the NRPS statistics, while substantially meeting the standards and including some areas of best practice, need development and investment to fully serve the public good. This is to ensure that as the independent official measure of rail passenger satisfaction across the rail network, the NRPS statistics can be designated as a National Statistic.

The report finds these statistics are a valued and important data tool, but highlights two significant areas to address:

  • The limitation of the survey, as it only measures passenger satisfaction in the spring and autumn each year. This does not capture the impact of passenger journeys outside of these periods, with any issues caused by national timetable changes in May and December, short-term effects following the annual fare increases each January, or extreme weather events at other times of the year not included; and
  • The need to develop measures and capture broader passenger satisfaction based on an operators’ overall level of service, and not just with the last journey taken.

Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation, said:

“The NRPS statistics really matter as they are used as a key performance indicator for train operating companies, to hold the rail industry to account and to assess the quality of train services provided to passengers.

He continued:

“These statistics are also the only publicly available measure for understanding rail passenger satisfaction across the rail network. Substantial collaborative action by Transport Focus, the Department for Transport and the rail industry is required to enhance the public value of these important statistics, so that they can be relevant and underpin an evolving rail industry.”

 

Notes to Editors

  • The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority. We provide independent regulation of all official statistics produced in the UK assessed against the Code of Practice for Statistics. The Code of Practice for Statistics applies to everyone in an organisation producing official statistics, including senior leaders, policy professionals, communications staff and other analysts. Official statistics should be compiled to the highest standards of quality to ensure decision-making is based on sound evidence.
  • The National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) is one of the largest, published, rail passenger satisfaction surveys in the world. It provides a consistent and comparable measure of rail passenger satisfaction across GB so that the performance of individual train operating companies (TOCs) can be compared over time, and which can be amalgamated to produce GB-level trends. The statistics have been produced for the last 20 years and have been included as a key performance measure in the franchise agreements of many TOCs since 2008.
  • The limitation of the survey is it only measures passenger satisfaction in the spring and autumn each year. NRPS autumn fieldwork covers a 10-week period between September and mid November each year. Spring fieldwork covers a 10-week period starting in mid to late January and is complete before Easter.
  • We assess statistics against the standards set out in the Code of Practice for Statistics. Under legislation, assessment is the only tool that allows us to confer National Statistics status on official statistics. We must assess compliance with the Code in response to requests made by a producer in relation to any official statistic.
  • National Statistics status tells users that the statistics comply with the Code and meet and the highest standards of Trustworthiness, Quality and Value.
  • Statistics are an essential public asset. OSR ensures public confidence in the trustworthiness, quality and value of statistics produced by government. For more information please contact Suzanne Halls on 07411 212300, email or visit the OSR website.

 

Related Links:

Assessment Report 348: National Rail Passenger Survey

Letter: Ed Humpherson to Louise Coward (January 2019)

 

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) takes further steps to bolster the value of public finance statistics for the UK’s countries and regions

Today Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation at the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has recommended that the Chief Statisticians in the UK’s devolved countries, together with the Office for National Statistics, the OBR and HM Treasury, adopt a multi-agency approach to improve statistics and data on the public finances of the UK countries and regions.

OSR has seen that good work between different bodies has already begun and considers that this platform can develop these statistics further.

The OSR looked at how these statistics can better inform people about important aspects of how their taxes are used to fund public services around the UK. The results of that review can be found here.  Arising from the review, the OSR is looking for:

  • better tools to analyse data- people should be able to find out how much was spent on programmes and services in their region or country
  • ONS to work with devolved countries in developing narratives that help people make sense of the data for their region
  • greater ease for people in existing and new city-regions to find and use spending statistics in their decision-making
  • improvements in important statistics on the grants from central government to the devolved countries (Block Grants)
  • government statistics that can better support the UK independent fiscal forecasters in their work
  • devolved countries to make plans to publish data about the public sector assets and liabilities within the next 5 years

The work that the UK’s government statisticians, forecasters and analysts do is important in helping people see whether there is an appropriate balance between central and regional public finances in the UK and whether the distribution around the regions and countries is fair.

Ed Humpherson said:We have a wealth of data on funding and spending in the devolved countries and regions of the UK. Many countries have nothing like the detail and coverage we have in the UK. What we seek is greater clarity over what all this data means.

“People want to know if spending on the things they care about increased or not? How much is spent on important programmes in my region compared to another? This information is vital to public debate and people’s sense of a fair distribution and whether their public services are sustainable.”

 

Notes to Editors

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority. We provide independent regulation of all official statistics produced in the UK assessed against the Code of Practice for Statistics.

The Code of Practice for statistics applies to everyone in an organisation producing official statistics, including senior leaders, policy professionals, communications staff and other analysts. This underlying data is important to performance measures, targets and official statistics – essential for informing performance management systems and policy.

Official statistics should be compiled to the highest standards of quality to ensure decision-making is based on sound evidence. All statistics should be sourced from accurate data and quality assured, with rigours analysis and insight. Anything published should include clearly explained methods of compilation. If these fundamental principles are not met, then this can lead to data that is not fit for purpose, leading to poor understanding and decision making.

Statistics are an essential public asset. OSR ensures public confidence in the trustworthiness, quality and value of statistics produced by government.

For more information please contact Suzanne Halls on 07411 212300, email suzanne.halls@statistics.gov.uk or visit the OSR website.

 

Related Links:

Letter to Glyn Jones, Welsh Government (September 2019)

Letter to David Bailey, Office for National Statistics (September 2019)

Letter to Tom Orford, HM Treasury (September 2019)

Letter to Roger Halliday, Scottish Government (September 2019)

Letter to Steve Farrington, Office for Budget Responsibility (September 2019)

OSR Blog – Steps towards transparent fiscal statistics

OSR publishes Post-16 Education and Skills Report

Today, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has published its report on the value of data and statistics in relation to post-16 education and skills in England. The focus of this work has been on statistics about further education and apprenticeships, higher education and skills and lifelong learning.

OSR has explored the extent to which data and statistics meet the needs of users interested in the development of post-16 education provision and skills in England. We considered the questions users are trying to answer, the sources of data available and the plans producers are working on to meet these needs. Although producers have been taking steps to improve the accessibility, coherence and availability of data, there is more still to do.

Good quality and accessible information is key to fair, efficient and effective education provision, and we identified many areas where statistics and data services are being developed to meet a diverse range of user needs.

Our findings include that:

  • There are issues with the value of, and access to, learner level data from further education colleges;
  • Better information about applicants to university would help shed light on social mobility; and
  • Information gaps surrounding workforce skills will make planning to meet future demand difficult.

The next phase of OSR’s review will we be engaging with users and producers with a specific interest in statistics on this topic in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, to identify the extent to which the accessibility, coherence and data gaps are the same, or different, to those identified in England. We will continue to publish updates on our UK-wide work here.

 

Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation said:The landscape for statistics on post-16 education and skills in England is very uneven. Some data are easily accessible, and others are not. Some user questions are well addressed, and others are not. Our report highlights the areas that need to be addressed to correct this imbalance.

He concluded: “We will continue to monitor the improvements the producer bodies in England have committed to making in this area and support them on making the progress that is required”.

 

Notes to Editors

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority. We provide independent regulation of all official statistics produced in the UK assessed against the Code of Practice for Statistics.

The Code of Practice for statistics applies to everyone in an organisation producing official statistics, including senior leaders, policy professionals, communications staff and other analysts. This underlying data is important to performance measures, targets and official statistics – essential for informing performance management systems and policy.

Official statistics should be compiled to the highest standards of quality to ensure decision-making is based on sound evidence. All statistics should be sourced from accurate data and quality assured, with rigours analysis and insight. Anything published should include clearly explained methods of compilation. If these fundamental principles are not met, then this can lead to data that is not fit for purpose, leading to poor understanding and decision making.

Statistics are an essential public asset. OSR ensures public confidence in the trustworthiness, quality and value of statistics produced by government.

For more information please contact Suzanne Halls on 07411 212300, email suzanne.halls@statistics.gov.uk or visit the OSR website.

OSR publishes NHS Performance Measures Report

Today, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has published its report on “The Importance of involving statisticians in the evolution of NHS Performance Measures.”

This report focuses on accident and emergency (A&E) statistics in England, Scotland and Wales. It summarises four cases that OSR has looked at over the last two years involving these statistics, and draws out common themes and recommendations.

The four cases are: Changes to what should be included in A and E returns; Problems at NHS Lothian; Leaks; and Comparison of 12 hour waits in England and Wales. These cases show how OSR’s recommendations serve to improve the trustworthiness, quality and value of these important NHS performance measures.

There are two key conclusions for decision makers in the NHS and for policy makers:
– support the work of statisticians and other analysts in the health system. These analysts can help highlight risks to data quality, provide assurance on the usefulness of the performance measures, and advise on changes to performance measurement systems; and
– ensure that the purpose of these performance measures is clear.

Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation, said:

“A&E performance statistics perform a hugely valuable role. They don’t just support decision makers – they also are crucial in informing the public about the performance of the NHS. Our report highlights how producers of statistics can draw on the expertise of statisticians to minimise the challenges facing these high-profile statistics: misunderstanding, misstatement and misleading use.”

Release of the refreshed Code of Practice for Statistics

Today, the UK Statistics Authority has released the refreshed Code of Practice for Statistics. 

The Code plays a vital role as statistics are the lifeblood of our democracy and an important public asset for society. It enables users and producers to have a set of principles that underpin independent statistics production and presentation, ensuring confidence in this essential public asset.

The refreshed Code builds on the previous version, but develops thinking on statistics as a public asset based on three pillars – Trustworthiness, Quality and Value. This recognises statistics as a dynamic public service that helps people make decisions, measure performance and hold Government to account.

 

Sir David Norgrove, Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority said:

“The UK is fortunate to be one of the only countries in the world to have an independent regulator of official statistics.  Its work is underpinned by a statutory Code of Practice, which has helped drive substantial improvements.  But the Code is now nine years old, and today’s publication draws in that experience to deliver a refreshed Code that will deliver better statistics, to support better decisions.”

 

John Pullinger, National Statistician said:

For the Government Statistical Service it is our professionalism which earns us trust. We have no axe to grind in any debate save that it is well informed. We cherish our values of honesty, integrity, objectivity and impartiality. The refreshed Code of Practice continues to enhance the rigor, integrity and competence required for high quality statistics, and will be welcomed by the whole professional statistical community.”

 

Ed Humpherson, DG for Regulation said: 

My thanks go to everyone that has participated in the refresh of the Code, we have received a huge range of brilliant comments, advice and support from inside and outside Government. My team at the Office for Statistics Regulation has worked extremely hard to collate, shape and deliver this refreshed Code of Practice for statistics.  

He continued: “Integrity of statistics is at the heart of the refreshed Code: supporting the people who provide them, the people who use them, and the people who benefit from them. The pillars of Trustworthiness, Quality and Value provide a simple way of making sure statistics serve all these people.”

 

Note for Editors

The refreshed Code is available in three formats, as a booklet, an online pdf and a newly developed interactive code with case study examples, please visit: https://osr.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/code-of-practice/

This comes during an important year that marks the tenth anniversary since the creation of the Authority by Parliament to promote, improve and safeguard official statistics across the UK. It is also the fiftieth anniversary of the Government Statistics Service (GSS), celebrating the development and delivery of high quality evidence that has supported decision making and commanded long-term confidence.

The Code of Practice for Statistics is an important tool in protecting official statistics by setting the standards which must be met to ensure the public can have confidence in them.

These standards are used:

  • By statisticians, and other analysts when producing and publishing official statistics;
  • By the Office for Statistics Regulation when determining whether official statistics can be called National Statistics;
  • By the Authority when publically challenging the misuse of statistics; and
  • are helpful in general to support judgements about the publication of wider numerical information.

The refreshed Code of Practice was subject to an extensive consultation and stocktake, during which we have worked closely with members of the Government Statistical Service and the user community.

Consultation on the Voluntary Application of the Code of Practice for Statistics. We are developing a guide that explains why and how voluntary adoption of the Code of Practice for Statistics can help organisations publishing data, statistics and analysis to produce analytical outputs that are high quality, useful for supporting decisions, and well-respected. We would welcome your views, to take part in an informal consultation on this draft guide (that runs until 22 March 2018). Please email any comments you may have to the regulation team.

 

The Office for Statistics Regulation wishes to thank everyone that has been interested and involved in the refreshed Code of Practice, we have received a massive amount of useful comments and input that we considered very carefully. 

If you have an enquiry or require further information about the refreshed Code of Practice please email the regulation team.

We thank everyone who responded to our consultation on a refreshed Code of Practice

Our consultation on a refreshed Code of Practice is now closed. This three month consultation took place from 5 July 2017 until 5 October 2017.

It provided an opportunity for producers, users and the wider community to see how we propose to refresh the Code of Practice.

The Office for Statistics Regulation wishes to thank everyone that has been interested and involved in this work, we have received some useful comments and will consider them all very carefully.

We aim to complete this work as quickly as possible, with the new ‘Code of Practice’ available and published in early 2018.

 

Note for Editors

The consultation was the next-stage in a year-long ‘stock-take’ of the Code of Practice, during which we have worked closely with members of the Government Statistical Service and the user community.

If you have any queries concerning the consultation please email: regulation@statistics.gov.uk

The Code of Practice for Statistics is an important tool in protecting official statistics by setting the standards which must be met to ensure the public can have confidence in them.

These standards are used:

  • By statisticians, and other analysts when producing and publishing official statistics;
  • By the Office for Statistics Regulation when determining whether official statistics can be called National Statistics;
  • By the Authority when publically challenging the misuse of statistics; and
  • are helpful in general to support judgements about the publication of wider numerical information.