OBR Statement of Data Needs

Dear Ed


Thank you for your letter sharing with us the findings from your review of devolved public finance statistics, which made interesting reading.

You specifically asked whether OBR has prepared a summary of its data needs and the steps that have been taken in meeting them, and whether we saw any potential for doing so. At present, we have not prepared such a summary, although our various publications explicitly or implicitly identify data needs.

We can see the value of bringing our requirements from the ONS, and possibly
some other departments, together in a document designed for that purpose, where we can be specific and explicit about our requirements. This would build on the excellent working relationship we maintain with the ONS on these issues and would enable us to give credit when they and other organisations make progress in areas that have been identified. Therefore we believe it is a good idea in principle, and will look into it further over the next few months. Given likely pressures from a post-election Budget, it is likely to be the next financial year before we could complete such an exercise, although we would be happy to discuss it with you in the meantime.

Yours sincerely,
Steve Farrington
Chief of Staff

Related Links:

Further steps to bolster the value of public finance statistics for the UK’s countries and regions (September 2019)

Further steps to bolster the value of public finance statistics for the UK’s countries and regions

Dear Steve

Office for Statistics Regulation Review of the Public Value of Devolved Public Finance statistics

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) recently concluded a review of the public value of public finance statistics for the devolved administrations (DAs) and the regions and I wanted to share with you some of the results. The complexity of new fiscal frameworks and the associated need to make public finance statistics for the DAs and the regions more easily understood was one of the factors that prompted us to conduct our review.

You will find a presentation concerning the findings from this review are summarised in this blog from which the findings of the review can be accessed. One of our findings in respect to transparency of devolved public finance statistics is that we found that an annual Statement of Data Needs published by the Scottish Fiscal Commission (SFC) has been instrumental in bringing transparency not only to their data needs but to the progress there has been from statistics producers in meeting those needs over the past year. This progress was evident from their second publication of their Statement recently.

We wondered whether OBR had prepared any similar summary of its data needs and the steps that have been taken to plug gaps with a view to improving forecasts?  We have seen the positive effect that the SFC’s Statement published had over the past year and would be interested to learn whether OBR sees any potential from publishing such a summary in respect to those needs which it has identified?

I declare an interest here as we have found the SFC’s statement to be very helpful to us in our work in deciding our regulatory work priorities. We produce an annual regulatory work plan which we update through the year. In our regulatory monitoring of economic statistics, we often contact the OBR for any feedback on analysts’ experiences of using the statistics. A periodic statement of data needs might help obviate the need for our regulators contacting you every time we assess economic statistics.

I’d be interested to hear from you (if possible, by the end of October) about whether you have already any summary of data needs or see it as desirable from time to time to publish such a summary.

Yours sincerely

Ed Humpherson
Director General for Regulation


Related Links:

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

OSR Blog – Steps towards transparent fiscal statistics