The state of the UK’s statistical system

We have published our new state of the UK’s statistical system report for 2020/21


This review sets out our view on the current state of government statistics. At their best, statistics and data produced by government are insightful, coherent, and timely. They are of high policy-relevance and public interest. There are good examples of statistics that effectively support decision-making in many areas of everyday life: this has been especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, when we’re seeing the kind of statistical system that we’ve always wanted to encourage – responsive, agile and focusing on users. However, the statistical system does not consistently perform at this level across all its work.

In this report we address eight key areas where improvements could be made across the system.

  1. Statistical leadership
  2. Voluntary Application of the Code, beyond official statistics
  3. Quality assurance of administrative data
  4. Communicating uncertainty
  5. Adopting new tools, methods and data sources
  6. Telling fuller stories with data
  7. Providing authoritative insight
  8. User engagement

In each area, we highlight examples of statistical producers doing things well. These examples illustrate the good work already happening which others can learn from and build on. We have organised our reflections under the three headings of Trustworthiness, Quality and Value, the three essential pillars that provide the framework for the Code of Practice for Statistics.

OSR Insight: Coherence

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) plans to produce a series of OSR Insight reports to share lessons from our regulatory work with a wider audience in an accessible way. This report is the first in that series.

This report focuses on coherence. It highlights positive examples from across the Government Statistical Service and sets out a framework (see below) to support consideration of coherence as statistics and analyses are developed and disseminated.

Understand the questions users and potential users want answered.

Collaborate across boundaries to gain access to data, align definitions, bring sources together and understand differences.

Create a narrative that draws together information to provide clarity and insight.

We hope this approach will complement other work in this area, such as the recently published GSS Harmonisation Strategy – which sets out ambitions around comparability and coherence – and the work of the GSS Strategy Delivery Division. By working together we can highlight the value of coherent outputs and support greater coherence in published statistics and analysis.