Spotlight on Quality: Assuring Confidence in Economic Statistics

Last updated on Thursday 03 August 2023

Following the end of the UK’s membership of the European Statistical System, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has been developing its approach to providing continued assurance that the UK statistical system produces high quality internationally comparable economic statistics. The focus of this approach will be a programme of assessments of economic statistics, with a particular emphasis on quality.

Whilst the UK was part of the European Statistical System there was a legal requirement to comply with EU regulations on compiling economic statistics and their transmission to Eurostat. The quality and validity of these estimates was assured by Eurostat in the European context, principally to ensure the accuracy of each Member State’s contribution to the EU budget.

Although current estimates of Gross National Income no longer determine the UK’s contribution to the EU budget, the wider range of economic statistics that are produced in the UK are very important to domestic users, as well as the international community. Therefore, users require assurance that these statistics will continue to be compiled at a high quality and meet users’ needs.

In our role as the independent regulator of statistics, we have a wealth of experience working closely with users and producers of statistics to promote best practice and ensure that statistics serve the public good. We are adapting our standard model of statutory reviews based on the three pillars – Trustworthiness, Quality and Value – of the Code of Practice for Statistics to provide more in-depth assessments of the quality and independence of economic statistics and provide assurance in the UK context. This programme will consider a broader range of statistics than that considered by the EU for budgetary purposes, to reflect the broader needs of UK users.

What have we been doing?

August 2023 – We launched our second pilot quality focused assessment on Profitability of UK companies and Gross Operating Surplus of private non-financial corporations statistics.

July 2023 – We published our first pilot review which is on Producer Price Inflation.

April 2023 – We discussed the emerging findings of our pilot review of Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Producer Price Inflation (PPI) statistics with the Regulation Committee that oversees our work. Members welcomed the summary of findings and insight into how what OSR is doing is different to Eurostat.

January 2023 – We began a pilot review using the newly developed in-depth quality assessment framework on ONS’s Producer Price Inflation (PPI) statistics.

December 2022 – We wrote to key stakeholders such as ONS, Office for Budget Responsibility, Bank of England, HM Treasury and National Statistician’s Committee for Advice on Standards for Economic Statistics outlining our planned approach.

Our planned next steps

Ongoing – Engage with key stakeholders around our proposed approach

Autumn 2023 – Publish the quality focused assessment framework that we have developed

Autumn 2023 – Run a stakeholder event to explain and invite feedback on our proposed approach

Autumn 2023 – Develop and engage on the planned programme of reviews

What will the reviews focus on?

Following discussions with some stakeholders, we have been developing an assessment framework that focuses more intensively on the quality of economic statistics. This is based on the Code of Practice for Statistics and elements from other assessment frameworks, such as the International Monetary Fund’s Data Quality Assessment Framework. We will pay particular attention to technical reviews of;

  • the appropriateness of the methods used to produce economic statistics
  • biases and uncertainty arising from the production of economic statistics
  • concept, coverage, and exhaustiveness adjustments and
  • the quality assurance procedures in place for economic statistics.


Mark Pont to Mike Keoghan Assessment of the Profitability of UK Companies and Gross Operating Surplus of private non-financial corporations statistics  (01 August 2023)

Ed Humpherson to Martin Weale – Office for Statistics Regulation External Scrutiny Programme (14 December 2022)

Martin Weale to Ed Humpherson – Office for Statistics Regulation External Scrutiny Programme (14 March 2023)

Ed Humpherson to Sam Beckett-Office for Statistics Regulation External Scrutiny Programme (14 December 2022)

Sam Beckett to Ed Humpherson Office for Statistics Regulation External Scrutiny Programme (28 February 2023)

These webpages will be updated as the programme of reviews progresses.