Assessment of compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics: Earnings and employment from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information, UK

8 June 2023
Last updated:
8 June 2023

Executive Summary

ES.1 The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) started a regulatory review of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates of earnings and employment from Pay as You Earn Real Time Information ( PAYE RTI) UK (to be referenced as PAYE RTI) in October 2022, which are currently labelled as ‘experimental statistics’. The aim of our review was to provide feedback and support HMRC and ONS’s endeavours to further develop these statistics, with a view to achieving National Statistics status in the future. To maximise the value of OSR findings and in response to advice, HMRC and ONS requested an Assessment against the Code of Practice for Statistics to set out a clear path to achieving National Statistics.

ES.2 We have identified six requirements for HMRC and ONS to fulfil for the earnings and employment statistics from PAYE RTI to be designated as National Statistics. Once HMRC and ONS demonstrate that these steps have been taken, OSR will recommend that the UK Statistics Authority designate the statistics as National Statistics.

ES.3 We consider it would help further promote confidence in these statistics for HMRC and ONS to publish a plan that sets out their proposals for addressing the requirements.

What we found

ES.4 The development of the monthly estimates of earnings and employment using PAYE RTI data has proved valuable to users, filling a timely data gap especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and providing benefits over existing labour market data.

ES.5 There is huge potential to gain further value from this rich data source through data linkage and re-use opportunities which should be exploited by both teams. The ability to match these data with other sources, as demonstrated by the existing linkage to the ONS’s Inter-Departmental Business Register, also offers the potential to produce better statistics more cheaply.

ES.6 There are many sources of labour market data available, but it is not clear how coherent the PAYE RTI estimates are with these other sources. ONS should look to provide a full picture of the labour market data sources for users to be able to determine which sources are best suited for their need.

ES.7 Engagement around the PAYE RTI estimates within government is good with key users able to hear about developments and feed in their views. We encourage HMRC and ONS to look to engage with a broader range of labour market statistics users on an ongoing basis, to help foster a wider user dialogue.

ES.8 While information about the methodology is published, including recently made changes to the imputation methods, we found that this material could be improved, and this was reflected in the mixed views we received from users on its value. HMRC and ONS should consider different user needs when presenting methodological information making sure that it is relevant and targeted at the right level. HMRC also needs to do more to reassure users about its quality assurance.

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