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 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