Today the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has published a review of the preparation and release of revisions to UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimates, that are produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The undertaking of this work was announced in September, and considered three key areas:

  • Processes and quality assurance involved in making revisions to GDP;
  • Potential improvements to early estimates of GDP enabled through enhanced access to data; and
  • Communication of uncertainty and revisions to GDP, and the story behind the most recent set of revisions.

The need for timely estimates of GDP and its growth are vital indicators for users, including HM Treasury, the Bank of England and the Office for Budget Responsibility, to analyse and forecast the economic performance of the country.

Considering this, OSR’s report has found that ONS’s approach to revisions are appropriate and well managed, concluding that the more extreme criticisms that ONS received are misplaced.

Building on some good features of ONS’s approach to revisions, OSR has highlighted a number of requirements to improve public understanding of the uncertainty surrounding GDP estimates and outlined a need for faster access to data sources when producing these estimates.

Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation said:

“OSR recognises that revisions are an inevitable part of producing timely and accurate estimates of GDP and we would like to thank the ONS for their positive engagement in our review.

Implementing the requirements will ensure enhanced public and media understanding of the uncertainty that surrounds GDP estimates. We expect the ONS to make quick progress and fulfill these requirements, publishing an action plan by January 2024 with further progress and updates.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. OSR provides independent regulation of all official statistics produced in the UK. We aim to enhance public confidence in the trustworthiness, quality and value of statistics produced by government.
  2. OSR does this by setting the standards they must meet in the Code of Practice for Statistics. We ensure that producers of government statistics uphold these standards by conducting assessments against the Code.
  3. Part of our role as the statistics regulator is to investigate concerns on the quality, good practice and comprehensiveness of official statistics. It is not our role to moderate public discourse.

For media enquiries please contact OSR on Tel: +44 (0)207 592 8659