Mark Pont to Glyn Jones: Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation 2019 statistics

Dear Glyn 

 WELSH INDEX OF MULTIPLE DEPRIVATION 2019 STATISTICS  

 I am writing to you following our review of the Welsh Government’s Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation 2019 (WIMD) statistics against the Code of Practice for StatisticsThe statistics were reviewed against the three pillars of the Code: trustworthiness, quality and value.  

WIMD statistics are an important tool for identifying the most disadvantaged areas and for supporting decisions about addressing local needs. They are widely used by central and local government and community organisations to target their services. The statistics have been considered as part of a wider review of the indices of deprivation statistics in Great Britainalongside our compliance checks of the statistics produced by the Scottish Government and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) 

I am pleased to confirm that these statistics should continue to be designated as National Statistics. We found several positive examples in the way that Welsh Government produces and presents these statistics: 

  • The team has a clear understanding of the uses and users of the statistics. Welsh Government ran a user consultation and timing survey ahead of WIMD 2019 and published its planned developments in response, which generates trust in the statisticsThe frequency of WIMD is tailored to user need  the team told us that it can be a burden on local authorities and third sector organisations who use WIMD in their own analyses if WIMD is updated too regularly. Any methodological changes to the construction of WIMD between iterations are informed by an advisory group and other domain experts which the team said it had good relationships with. This further enhances the trustworthiness of the statistics. 
  • The statistical bulletin is engaging, clear and easy to follow. The pen pictures of areas in Wales are useful in drawing out insight from the statistics and help draw out the relevance to users. The technical report is comprehensive and sets out the process for constructing the WIMD in a clear and accessible way. The guidance document has been tailored to lesstechnical users and effectively summarises the key information from the technical report.  
  • The bulletin contains analysis of deeprooted deprivation which looks at areas that have remained in the top 50 most deprived for all WIMD iterations in the past 15 years. The team told us that it took inspiration from the Scottish Government to adopt this concept. The analysis of deep-rooted deprivation draws out valuable insight from the statistics and addresses the limitation of not being able to compare small areas and ranks between iterations of WIMD. 
  • The team spoke highly of its relationship with the other nations. The ‘four nations group’ meets regularly and works collaboratively to make guidance and presentation across the deprivation statistics more consistent. Welsh Government has been working with MHCLG, which extended its coverage for income and employment data to cover Wales in 2019, to develop new comparable analysis for these two domains.  

We have identified one area where we consider that improvements could further enhance the public value of the statistics:  

  • The ability to combine and compare indices of deprivation across the devolved nations continues to be an area of interest for some users. Each of the producers we spoke to said they deal with queries relating to this on a regular basis, despite their joint effort to set out in the statistical releases how the statistics can and can’t be used. Welsh Government, as part of the ‘four nations group’, should look to ensure that appropriate resource is devoted to developing updated UK-wide guidance and insight. 

Our Labour Market and Welfare team will continue to engage with you and your team in the coming months to follow up on the area that has been highlighted for improvement. We would like to thank the team for its engagement and cooperation throughout the review process.  

I am copying this letter to the responsible team: Nia Jones, Sue Leake and Samantha Collins.    

Yours sincerely 

 

Mark Pont 

Assessment Programme Lead  

 

Related Links

Mark Pont to Siobhan Carey: Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation Measure

Mark Pont to Sandra Tudor: English Indices of Deprivation 2019 statistics

Mark Pont to Roger Halliday: Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 2020 statistics

 

Mark Pont to Glyn Jones: Compliance Check of the National Rough Sleeper Count in Wales

Dear Glyn

THE NATIONAL ROUGH SLEEPER COUNT IN WALES

We have recently conducted our review of the compliance of Welsh Government’s (WG) Rough Sleeper Count official statistics against the Code of Practice for Statistics.

While these statistics are not National Statistics, they are important official statistics valued by users and so we have made a number of recommendations to support your continued development of these statistics. We considered the Trustworthiness, Quality and Value of these statistics in relation to the Code and have appreciated the positive and constructive way that the team has engaged with us during our review, especially at this particularly challenging time.

We welcome the news that new management information is being collected on the numbers of homeless and rough sleepers in Wales being assisted into emergency accommodation since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. We would like to recognise the positive steps being taken by your statisticians, working with other Welsh Government officials, to determine how this management information can be best used to complement the existing statistics. The plans for how this may develop over the coming months demonstrates real innovation within this area. We commend your team on the timeliness and transparency shown through the recent release of this management information which provides further insight into the homeless landscape, and we feel that this sets a good example of the processes needed to release data that is used publicly in ministerial statements accessibly and promptly.

Within the National Rough Sleeper count we found a range of positive features that demonstrate the trustworthiness, quality and value of the statistics:

  • Upfront guidance about the limitations of the single-night count and providing users with a range of factors that can influence the accuracy of the information and the steps taken to try to reduce the impact of the issues;
  • Having strong internal quality assurance processes within the team, some of which are documented within the release, gaining insights from policy colleagues during the quality assurance process, as well as having built-in validation checks within the data collection form itself;
  • Providing clarity and insight through the use of some good examples in the release of maps, tables and charts to present the data as well as providing some context around the data;
  • The team’s active engagement with topic experts to review and further develop the methods for measuring the rough sleeping population in Wales.

We identified some areas for improvement that would enhance the quality and value of the statistics:

  • Having greater oversight of the data collection methods used and information collected by Local Authorities (LAs), as well as seeking further assurances around how LAs ensure the accuracy of their data returns, will help enhance the understanding of the comparability of the data between the different areas and over time;
  • It is unclear what level of assurance is given on the quality of the data sources. To assure users of the level of quality of the data, information should be provided on this and how they were assessed. This will also help to further demonstrate your application of our required standards for the quality assurance of administrative data;
  • As the statistics are developed further, we welcome your ambitions to explore collecting case-level data and recommend exploring the collection of demographic characteristics of the rough sleeper population to add to the value for users and those working in WG policy areas. We are aware that the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) publishes its own analysis of the information collected during the two-week national rough sleeper count and so we would suggest considering building links with organisations such as WLGA with an interest in this area, to help deliver better insights into the rough sleeper landscape;
  • We recommend engaging with the Government Statistical Service (GSS) Good Practice Team to explore the potential for further improvements to these statistics, particularly in light of recent improvements that the team supported Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) analysts make to their Rough Sleeping Snapshot in England statistics, including innovative new ways of releasing these data.

Thank you for engaging effectively with us during this review. We welcome the updates on your continued collaborative work as part of the Cross-Government Homelessness Statistics Working Group. With management information now being collected across the UK on the numbers of rough sleepers and homeless helped into emergency accommodation since the start of the pandemic, alongside other administrative sources, we look forward to seeing GSS statisticians work together to more fully illustrate the complexity of the overall UK rough sleeping and homelessness picture.

Our Housing, Planning and Local Services Domain Lead will continue to engage with your team on progress in the coming months and we would welcome a progress update from you upon the next publication of these statistics.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss any aspects of this letter further.

I am copying this letter to Sue Leake (Head of Education and Public Services Statistics); Luned Jones from the Housing Statistics team; and Lee Thomas from the Data Collection team.

 

Yours sincerely

Mark Pont

Assessment Programme Lead

Ed Humpherson to Glyn Jones: Monthly Indicators from the National Survey for Wales

Dear Glyn

Monthly Indicators from the National Survey for Wales

I am writing to endorse the approach you have taken to develop the National Survey Wales given the current COVID-19 situation. The primary purpose of the survey is to provide views of adults in Wales on a wide range of issues affecting them, which is key to monitor changes and make decisions. Your team has responded effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic in adapting the survey to produce monthly results using a different data collection method. I would like to congratulate everyone involved for their work to produce these valuable statistics in challenging circumstances and confirm that these statistics can be labelled as National Statistics as part of the National Survey suite of National Statistics outputs.

My team has conducted a rapid regulatory review of the published information. We have reviewed the extent to which they have been produced in accordance with the Code of Practice’s Trustworthiness, Quality and Value pillars, while taking account of the pressures you and your teams have faced to deliver timely statistics about an important topic. A summary of our findings is set out below and more detailed feedback has been provided to your team.

Value

  • The primary purpose of the statistics is to provide views of adults in Wales on a wide range of issues affecting them. The statistics allow changes to be monitored and meet policy needs.
  • Your team worked quickly to implement a different data collection method (from face-to-face to telephone) to produce these statistics.
  • The survey questionnaire has been adapted to include new questions on coronavirus across the different topic areas: shopping habits; mortgage payments; getting GP appointments; employment; hours worked; and childcare impacts.
  • You informed users of the change to the statistics through publishing an update on your website; users would benefit from this update forming part of the National Survey landing page to ensure it has a high level of visibility and the change is well understood.
  • We welcome the ongoing dialogue the survey team has had with the sponsored bodies that co-fund the survey (Sport Wales, Arts Council of Wales and Natural Resources Wales) and policy teams within Welsh Government to ensure that the survey results could feed into making important decisions. Your plans to extend this engagement will help develop the survey over the coming months, and ensure appropriate insights are delivered to a wider range of users.
  • The initial statistical report is clear, informative and easy for users to understand; we look forward to it evolving over the coming months as topics change and user needs are more fully understood.

Quality

  • The new questions have been developed more quickly than usual. Welsh Government experts in questionnaire design and testing are leading the development of the survey questions to overcome the fact that questions can’t be tested as extensively as would usually happen. Referring to other research – such as the COVID-related questions on the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) opinions survey – is also helpful to build in quality. The further cognitive testing that you have planned will in time offer further reassurances to users about quality.
  • The survey contractor (ONS) has carried out a set of quality checks on the data. Alongside your own checks, this means they are produced to a level of quality that meets users’ needs.
  • It is exceptional that the survey has achieved a high response rate in its first month. We consider that your plan to reduce the contacted sample for June and July is sensible, and it is good that you have committed to monitor the response rate over time in order to adjust the sampling arrangements as needed during the constantly changing situation.
  • The quality report is thorough about methods, including explanations of strengths and limitations, confidence intervals and accuracy of the data that aid interpretation of the statistics.

Trustworthiness

We would like to thank the team for engaging with us during this review and we look forward to seeing these statistics develop as more data are collected on the impact of COVID-19.

Yours sincerely

Ed Humpherson

Director General for Regulation

Ed Humpherson to Glyn Jones: Provision in local authority settings during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Dear Glyn

Provision in local authority settings during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

I am writing to endorse the new official statistics Welsh Government is about to publish. I would like congratulate everyone involved for their work to produce these timely and valuable statistics in challenging circumstances.

As discussed, I am also happy to confirm the exemption from the Code of Practice for Statistics’ standard publication time of 9.30am to permit a later release time of noon each Monday for these statistics. This will enable the statistics to be as timely as possible under the circumstances, and I welcome your endeavours to publish such timely information.

My team has conducted a rapid regulatory review of these statistics. We have reviewed the extent to which they have been produced in accordance with the Code of Practice’s Trustworthiness, Quality and Value pillars, while taking account of the pressures you and your teams have faced to deliver timely statistics about a rapidly evolving situation. A summary of our findings is set out below. More detailed feedback has been provided to your team.

Value

  • We welcome the rapid development and publication of these statistics so they can support understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on schools and pupils. We note that this is an evolving release and acknowledge your commitment to keep the statistics under review as the demand for new insights changes over coming weeks and months.
  • We support your decision to bring forward publication of headline figures from the January 2020 School Census to enable the numbers of pupils and staff to be put in context, and your assurances that you have been able to deliver robust headline estimates to a compressed timetable. We will keep the National Statistics designation of these statistics under review whilst the impact on users of the changes to the level of insight provided, and the restricted quality assurance is better understood.

Quality

  • Using the expertise of Data Cymru to quickly establish a system for collecting daily data from local authorities has established a firm footing for the collection of the data. The robust mechanisms that you have established for assuring the quality of the data, along with clear, prominent statements within the statistical bulletin about the source of the data and quality assurance that has taken place provide appropriate assurances about quality.

Trustworthiness

  • The decision to publish these statistics as a full statistical bulletin and your efforts to preannounce as soon as possible both offer transparency to users.
  • You have reprioritised resources quickly to enable people to work on this. It has required a considerable effort from many different teams, which is to be commended.

We look forward to seeing these statistics develop as circumstances change. As set out in the guidance on changes to statistical outputs you can include a statement in your release such as “These statistics have been produced quickly in response to developing world events. The Office for Statistics Regulation, on behalf of the UK Statistics Authority, has reviewed them against several key aspects of the Code of Practice for Statistics and regards them as consistent with the Code’s pillars of Trustworthiness, Quality and Value.”

I am copying this to Steve Hughes, head of schools statistics at the Welsh Government.

Yours sincerely

Ed Humpherson

Director General for Regulation

Response from Ed Humpherson to Glyn Jones, Welsh Government, on school expenditure

Dear Glyn,

As agreed, I am responding on behalf of Sir David Norgrove following the letter he received from Kirsty Williams AC/AM regarding use of estimates from NASUWT of the per pupil funding gap between England and Wales in debate within the Welsh Assembly.

We are aware that since 2012 the Welsh Government has not produced official statistics on the funding gap between England and Wales. You have explained this is largely due to the added complexity resulting from the roll-out of academies in England. However, you have worked with the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) to develop its estimates of the funding gap.

We have considered the analysis carried out by the IFS and the way it has been reported in your official statistics. In your Local Authority Budgeted Expenditure on Schools: 2019-20 publication you comment on the IFS report, stating:

Whilst there still may be some issues in the comparability of the data at a detailed level, we worked with the IFS researchers to consider their methods and believe it is the most robust comparison that currently exists of trends in recent years.

We agree with your conclusion and found that the IFS analysis is clear on how the figures have been calculated.

We have been unable to comment on the approach taken by NASUWT. However, we are aware that you are working with NASUWT as it looks to revise its calculations. We encourage all organisations to consider the principles set out in the Code of Practice for Statistics and therefore would encourage NASUWT to publish details of its approaching to producing estimates and to consider voluntarily applying the code of practice for statistics to its revised calculations.

We consider it important that figures used in public debate are based on data which have transparent sources and can be verified. This is not currently the case for the NASUWT estimates.

Your sincerely

Ed Humpherson

Director General for Regulation

Related links:

Letter from Sir David Norgrove to Kirsty Williams AM

Letter from Kirsty Williams AM to Sir David Norgrove

Temporary exemption from Code of Practice for Welsh Government market sensitive publications

Dear Glyn,

Thank you for your letter of 26 March 2020. I am happy to confirm the exemption from the Code of Practice for Statistics to permit an earlier release time for the Welsh Government’s market sensitive
publications.

Your decision is sensible and proportionate in the circumstances.

Yours sincerely
Ed Humpherson
Director General for Regulation

Related Links:

Welsh Government to Ed Humpherson (March 2020)

Ed Humpherson to Scottish Government (March 2020)

Ed Humpherson to NISRA (March 2020)

Welsh Government request to temporary change to timing of key Welsh economic statistics

Dear Ed,

You will be aware of developments at the ONS in respect of their plans to publish market sensitive statistics at 7.00am.

Historically the Welsh Government has co-ordinated the publication of our labour market statistics with the corresponding release from the ONS and, if content, it would be our intention for that to continue.

Accordingly, I would be grateful if you could indicate your support for the Welsh Government moving the release time for our labour market publication Key Economic Statistics to 7.00am in line with contingency arrangements being implemented by the ONS. I appreciate that this represents a departure from the requirements of the Code, but consider it prudent as the releases complement one another and it would help ensure equal access for all.

We will of course keep this interim arrangement under review, in conjunction with colleagues at the ONS and in the other devolved authorities, and involve you as appropriate in any further developments.

Regards,

Glyn Jones

Chief Statistician

Ed Humpherson to Welsh Government (March 2020)

Scottish Government to Ed Humpherson (March 2020)

NISRA to Ed Humpherson (March 2020)

Devolved Labour Market Compliance Check

Dear all

STATISTICS ON THE LABOUR MARKET

I am writing to you following our recent review of the key Labour Market statistical reports for the devolved nations against the Code of Practice for Statistics. The statistics published by the Welsh Government, Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) that we reviewed are:

The statistics have been considered as part of a wider review of labour market statistics, along with our assessment of UK employment and jobs statistics produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). I am pleased to confirm that all three labour market reports should continue to be designated as National Statistics.

Labour market statistics are key economic indicators which are used by a wide range of users and are subject to high user interest. This review focussed mainly on the quality and public value of the data, statistics and supporting information. We recognise that the outputs we have reviewed differ between the three countries in terms of purpose, each team’s access to the underlying data and the time window available to produce them. These factors have been considered as part of our recommendations.

In reviewing the labour market reports, we found examples of clear supporting methodology information, effective sign-posting and presentation of uncertainty, which we detail separately for each country later in this letter. We have identified some common areas for improvement across the three producer teams, which also correspond to areas for improvements we’ve highlighted in our assessment report of ONS’s employment and jobs statistics. The recommendations in this letter build on those we have made to ONS and we encourage all four countries to continue to work together to ensure that labour market statistics across the UK continue to provide the necessary insights. In order to improve the quality and public value of these statistics, the teams should:

  • Consider how the statistics can be better presented to help improve users’ understanding of how the labour market is changing over time. We found some examples where the key labour market measures are defined but the relationship between these groups of people (for example, the unemployed and the economically inactive) could be more clearly explained. We encourage the three producer teams to also work with ONS to develop a way to understand the flows of people into, out of and within the labour market.
  • Build on existing collaboration between all the producer teams, including ONS, to enhance the coherence of labour market statistics. We found strong evidence of effective cross-producer collaboration through regular meetings and steering groups. However, discrepancies between the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the Annual Population Survey (APS) data currently present issues with coherence of data sources. Greater collaboration could support a consistent approach in presenting data from the LFS or APS respectively and in turn, lead to a better read-across between the different countries’ statistics. This will require leadership and coordination from ONS and is highlighted in our assessment report of employment and jobs statistics (para 2.5). It could also prove an effective part of finding a solution to address the concerns raised by Scottish Government and Welsh Government about the future funding for APS which is explained in the ONS assessment report (para 1.9).

Welsh Government

  • Key Economic Statistics is well presented and the narrative provides relevant context to the statistics. The section on ‘Key quality information’ is appropriately detailed and provides useful information on data sources and methods. The bulletin includes links to supporting documentation and StatsWales data tables throughout. This could be further improved by signposting relevant sections from the ‘Key quality information’ within the main bulk of the bulletin to help aid understanding.
  • The statistics team has presented confidence intervals for the LFS estimates which provides some context for the level of uncertainty associated with the data. However, these are relatively inaccessible, and the language used in the narrative presents the latest figures as absolute, for example “The employment rate in Wales was x%”. This is particularly important when comparing data across the four countries, where estimated differences are not always statistically significant. Welsh Government should improve the way uncertainty is reflected in the narrative, following the lead of ONS as recommended in our assessment report, for example referring to the latest figures as estimates.
  • We were pleased to hear from the statistics team about its plans to potentially introduce a new bulletin covering protected characteristics in the labour market, which is an area of interest identified in its 2012 user consultation. We encourage Welsh Government to keep published statistical development plans up to date and to ensure users are aware of progress being made against these developments.
  • The statistics team told us that some of the main users of Key Economic Statistics go straight to the data tables to find the information they require and not the bulletin by default. We encourage Welsh Government to find out how its users engage with the various statistical outputs to ensure they remain relevant to users.

Scottish Government

  • The Labour Market Trends bulletin is easy to follow and we welcome the improvements that have been made to the presentation of chart headings and footnotes. The bulletin signposts to the new quarterly youth APS publication, which was previously included in the monthly LFS bulletin, as well as a number of ONS pages relating to the LFS. To improve clarity of the statistics, Scottish Government should look to expand on the methodology information within the bulletin itself.
  • The statistics team told us that the process for producing the monthly bulletin has largely been automated to ensure the statistics can be published at the same time as the ONS release. As a result, the narrative in the bulletin focuses on the latest figures and the change on the previous quarter or year. We would encourage the statistics team to consider how to bring out more insight from the statistics to improve their public value.
  • We welcome the work Scottish Government and ONS are doing to ensure uncertainty is properly reflected in the bulletin, as part of our recommendation in the assessment of employment and jobs statistics, to help users understand the precision of estimates. For example, the statistics team should avoid presenting figures as absolute in the headline
    infographic such as “x% of people aged 16 to 64 were in employment” and instead refer to the latest figures as estimates.
  • We were pleased to hear from the statistics team about its ongoing user engagement and its plans for developing alternative products for accessing the data to complement the ScotGov open data platform and to meet a range of users’ accessibility needs. The statistics team also told us that its economic statistics development plan is being updated to cover a wider range of economic statistics than in previous years. We would encourage Scottish Government to increase the visibility of its developments by publishing updates and outcomes of user engagement to highlight the good work they are doing in this area and to keep users informed of their plans and progress.

Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency

  • NISRA’s Northern Ireland Labour Market report is engaging and comprehensive. The narrative is proportionate to the statistics and the ‘Further information’ section of the report is thorough in addressing the strengths, limitations and comparability of the data.
  • The presentation of uncertainty in the bulletin and supporting materials is effective, for example including statistical significance and confidence intervals of estimates, and we are pleased to hear the report is being used as a case study for presenting uncertainty by the Government Statistical Service’s Good Practice Team. To improve this further, NISRA should ensure comparisons between Northern Ireland and the UK also take into the account the level of uncertainty for the estimates.
  • The team carried out a user consultation of labour market statistics in 2019 and has published its planned developments in response. We would encourage NISRA to seek feedback on its progress against the developments and continue to collate feedback on its various statistical outputs.

We appreciate each of the teams’ willingness to engage with us in this review as well as the wider assessment process with ONS. We wish to thank them for taking on board our recommendations. Our labour market and welfare domain team will continue to engage with your teams over the coming months to discuss progress.

I am copying this letter to Melanie Brown (Welsh Government), Gayle Mackie (Scottish Government) and Cathryn Blair (NISRA), the lead statisticians.

Yours sincerely
Mark Pont
Assessment Programme Lead

Related Links:

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

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

Police Recorded Road Accidents statistics

Dear Glyn

POLICE RECORDED ROAD ACCIDENTS STATISTICS

I am writing to you following our review of the Police Recorded Road Accidents statistics against the Code of Practice for Statistics. The statistics have been considered as part of a wider review of the devolved nations’ road safety statistics, following our compliance check of Road Accidents and Safety statistics for Great Britain produced by the Department for Transport. The statistics were reviewed against the three pillars of the Code – trustworthiness, quality and value – crucial aspects in ensuring the statistics confidently inform stakeholders, including the general public, about the safety of roads in their local neighbourhood or area.

I am pleased to confirm that these statistics should continue to be designated as National Statistics. We have outlined several positive examples in the way that Welsh Government produces and presents these statistics:

• The statistics are well presented using tables, figures and infographics. These are accompanied by commentary explaining the context for data trends, which provides additional insight for users. We commend the comprehensive methodology and data quality review within the accompanying quality report where data quality issues are clearly highlighted to users. For example, we particularly welcome the clarity of the description of the under-coverage of road traffic collisions or the uncertainty regarding a significant fall in accidents recorded in South Wales for the first half of 2018.

• The team has made effective use of the Authority’s Quality Assessment of Administrative Data (QAAD) toolkit to improve its engagement with police forces in Wales and develop its understanding of the data collection process. This helped to resolve previous issues with fatality data which had resulted in revisions of the statistics.

• The statistical dashboard provides a new level of analysis, allowing users to go beyond the statistics within the bulletin and select data based on geographic location and police force. This demonstrates the team’s drive to innovate and improve the presentation and analysis of the statistics. The team has effectively moved information from smaller bulletins into the main bulletin, minimising repetition of statistics and allowing information to be found more efficiently by users.

We have identified several areas where we consider that improvements could further enhance the public value of the statistics:

• Whilst the team has a good understanding of users within the police forces and road safety charities in Wales, we recommend that user engagement be extended to identify and routinely seek feedback from a wider range of unknown or new users. This would allow the team to gain a better understanding of the wider user base and could also be used as an opportunity to understand how users are interacting with the analytical dashboard. This in turn could help shape the content and presentation of the statistics.

• Where possible, the team should seek to involve more local authorities in the data validation process, either directly or through the Welsh police forces, in order to improve the accuracy of the geolocations where road traffic collisions have occurred. Your team has told us that understanding the volume of missing records in the STATS19 system (collisions which are not in the statistics database) is challenging. We therefore encourage the team to engage with other teams across the UK who produce road safety statistics, in particular Police Service of Northern Ireland, in order to explore whether there are ways to improve the process and minimise the risk of missing records.

• We recommend that the team establish a stronger working partnership with other producer teams in the devolved administrations who use the STATS19 collection series. Greater collaboration could lead to greater input and influence during the STATS19 review process and ensure that the issues that concern devolved administrations are considered. Further to this, we recommend that the team keep users informed of the outcome of the review and developments to data collection processes, including potential transitioning to new databases such as CRASH.

Our Travel, Transport and Tourism team will continue to engage with you and your team in the coming months to follow up on areas that have been highlighted for improvement. We would like to thank the team for their engagement and cooperation throughout the review process.

I am copying this letter to Stephanie Howarth, Head of Economy, Skills and Natural Resources Statistics and Melanie Brown, lead statistician.

Yours sincerely

Mark Pont
Assessment Programme Lead

 

Related Links:

Mark Pont to Michael Thompson, Dept for Infrastructure (NI) (March 2020)

Mark Pont to Roger Halliday, Scottish Government (March 2020)

Mark Pont to Chief Statistician, Police Service of Northern Ireland (March 2020)

Devolved Public Finance Statistics Welsh Government

Email response from Glyn Jones, Chief Statistician, Welsh Government dated 12 February 2020

Dear Ed,

Thank you for your letter of 30 September 2019 regarding the OSR Review of the Public Value of Devolved Public Finance statistics. I apologise for the delay in responding.

The Review provided useful insights and good ideas for future developments in this area. We also welcome the regulatory review of HM Treasury’s Country and Regional Analysis publication. This is a useful compendium of comparative statistics on public expenditure and any improvements to it would be beneficial.

As the Review notes, devolved public finance is a complex area. This was true before the recent devolution of certain areas of taxation and is even more so now.  There is a distinction to be made between public finance statistics at a sub-UK level and devolved public finance statistics. For example, the ONS Country and Regional Public Sector Finances release provides an interesting breakdown of the overall public finances across the UK countries and English regions, but does not provide an analysis of devolved finances – as it does not distinguish between different tiers of Government. I am not suggesting that it should, as that would require a level of complexity that would make it considerably less accessible. We would be keen to work closely with ONS on the work you describe to improve the accessibility of public finance data to ensure that these complex issues are considered carefully in the presentation.

The Welsh Government’s focus is on producing statistics and other finance outputs that relate to devolved public finances in Wales. We publish a wealth of information on the various aspects of Welsh Government and local government finance. In addition, the Welsh Revenue Authority publishes detailed statistics on the two fully devolved taxes in Wales – Land Transaction Tax and Landfill Disposals Tax. We are also discussing with HM Revenue and Customs the future publication of outturn statistics for the Welsh Rates of Income Tax, when they become available in 2021.

The different elements of devolved finance are brought together in our budget publications and accounts. In addition, the new Welsh Taxes Outlook published by the Office for Budget Responsibility in December provides a detailed report on the prospects for the devolved taxes and will be updated alongside future Welsh Government budgets.

The Welsh Government publishes information on investment in budget documents and in the infrastructure investment plan. Details of the asset and liability position are included in the consolidated accounts. The same is true for local authorities in Wales. There is also a large volume of information on the physical infrastructure in the National Infrastructure Commission’s reports, published in November last year.

We do not have any immediate plans to develop a dedicated statistical product on government assets and liabilities, as we do not think there is sufficient demand in Wales to make this a priority. In terms of a community of interest in public finance statistics we have a number of connections with the analytical community in Wales and we will look to strengthen this engagement to ensure we maintain a live understanding of user need. However I would note that both through these connections and more broadly, both informally and via advisory groups and conferences, this particular requirement has not been raised as an issue.

One area of focus for the Welsh Government recently has been public engagement on devolved taxation and raising awareness of how this links to public expenditure. An account of this activity is set out in the Tax Policy Report published alongside the Welsh Government’s draft Budget in December. In this context, we will continue to consider how we might best present information on the devolved public finances in ways that are as accessible as possible.

This is an important area of government statistics and I am glad the OSR has been able to focus on it. I would be happy to discuss future developments, both relating to Welsh Government products and those published by other statistics producers in the UK.

Regards

Glyn

 

Related Links:

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