Statistics published by public sector bodies should be produced in a trustworthy way, be of high quality, and provide value by answering people’s questions: providing accountability, helping people make choices and informing policy. Statistics are part of the lifeblood of democratic debate.
Statistics therefore should serve a very wide range of users. When they meet the needs of these users, they serve the public good.
But our vision of statistics that serve the public good means equality of coverage as well as of access to statistics. Statistics must reflect the people they serve – they need to be representative of not just the majority, but provide a richer picture of the UK’s changing economy and society. The system needs to move beyond the tyranny of the average, by providing disaggregated and granular insight into how different communities, places and people are doing.
We support improvement and change in statistics to achieve a better understanding of society. For example, we have called on producers of income based poverty statistics to provide a clear evidence base for decisions, ensuring that everyone can be seen in the data, and also highlighted the increase in the available statistics on loneliness and have encouraged statistics producers to build on these positive developments. We have also set out our expectations to support statistical producers who are making changes, or considering making changes, to the data they collect and report about sex.
In taking a system wide view, the Inclusive Data Task Force has identified some critical issues to be collectively addressed by official statistics producers. It is good to see how strongly the focus and recommendations of the Task Force align with the Code of Practice framework of Trustworthiness, Quality and Value. The recommendations of the Task Force point to a range of ways of better meeting these standards, by ensuring that all producers of statistics work to close information gaps and reshape the statistics system to meet these long-standing and deep-seated omissions.
The combined producer response, rising to meet the challenge of inclusivity posed by the UK Statistics Authority, is both timely and encouraging – the need remains as great as ever, and is potentially increasing, given the growing reliance on digital connection and data abundance.
We look forward to the fruits of the system-wide response from the producers, as they jointly rise to the challenge posed by the Task Force. In our ongoing reviews and assessments, we will consider how much producers are living up to the principles set out by the Task Force.