What we want to achieve in 2021/22
Our Strategic Ambitions
Build public trust in evidence: In 2025, the statistical system will support people’s ability to distinguish reliable from unreliable statistics and data.
Make greater data available in a secure way for research and evaluation: In 2025, the statistical system will be based around linked data sets. Sharing and linked datasets, and using them for research and evaluation, will no longer be the exception. It will be the norm.
Enhance understanding of social and economic matters: In 2025, the statistical system will provide a much richer picture of the UK’s changing economy and society. The system will avoid over-emphasis on the average, providing disaggregated and granular insight into how different communities, places and people are doing.
Improve clarity and coherence of communication for maximum impact: In 2025, the statistical system will deliver clear, authoritative messages. It will be a core capability of statisticians to interpret, illuminate and caveat what the statistics say.
Our focus for 2021/22
Health and social care statistics will continue to be at the forefront of our programme in 2021/22 and we will be looking to the statistics system to demonstrate how they will seek to meet current and future needs emerging from the pandemic. Our work will extend into other important areas, including the longer-term implications of the pandemic for our children and young people.
Evolving statistical production
The pandemic and the departure from the EU have led to significant changes to how data are produced and what is available. We have seen greater flexibility, including more timely statistics, and changes to data collection have accelerated. We will consider the implications of some of the decisions being made and what this means for our judgement of quality of statistics.
The pandemic and the departure from the EU have led to significant changes to how data are produced and what is available. We have seen changes in the approach to data collection, and rapid turnaround of new outputs. There has been an increased need for producers of statistics to consider the trade-offs between timeliness and accuracy, and think about how new approaches impact on quality and coverage. We will consider the implications of these changes and what it means for our regulatory judgements. In 2021/22 we will:
- build on the profile of issues in health and social care and our experiences of the past year to make the case for improvements. We will support producers to improve: data infrastructure; statistical leadership; understanding impacts post-pandemic; and building on benefits and opportunities realised in response to the pandemic. We will contribute fully to the review of health and social care statistics commissioned by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC)
- examine specific quality concerns, for example – we will undertake an assessment of the Living Costs and Food Survey following concerns over the survey’s ability to deliver good quality estimates
- look at the impact of changes in approach to data collection, including how producers are assuring themselves of quality and communicating to users This will include looking at the impact of COVID-19 on the quality and relevance of the data informing the UK National Accounts and considering plans for developing migration statistics
- continue our assessment of the UK Trade statistics, and the quality of the supporting data, within the context of the focus the UK’s EU exit brings
- deliver an Insight project on how producers describe uncertainty in the statistics they publish
- continue our assessment of the Census
Consolidating our role in data
We will be developing our thinking on our role in regulation of data and joining up data/data available for research. This will build on projects underway, including the exam grade adjustment review, and help us determine how far and how regularly we want to focus our regulatory work beyond official statistics. We will develop our Code guidance around statistical models to advocate for clear demonstration of model validity and ensuring models can command public confidence.
We will be developing our thinking on our role in regulation of data and follow up our work on joining up data and making data available for research. This will build on projects underway, including our review of the approach to developing statistical models to award 2020 exam results, and help us determine how far and how regularly we want to focus our regulatory work beyond official statistics. In 2021/22 we will:
- review the impact of data linkage on the statistical system to understand how common and effective progress has been since our report in 2019. We are aware of some good examples of progress but we need to get a sense of the landscape
- follow up on the findings of our review of the approach to developing statistical models designed for awarding 2020 exam results, which identifies lessons for public bodies considering the use of statistical models to support decisions and publish our guidance on statistical models
- follow up on our Reproducible Analytical Pipelines (RAP) Review
Granularity of statistics
We will clarify our expectations of producers to provide more granular data, including data broken down by key characteristics and geographies. It is important that statistics reflect society and that people can see themselves in the statistics available
We will clarify our expectations of producers to provide more granular data, including data broken down by key characteristics and geographies. It is important that statistics reflect society and that people can see themselves in the statistics available. In 2021/22 we will:
- review regional statistics to measure changes in regional performance. The Treasury Select Committee has expressed an interest in the regional GDP estimates being assessed for potential National Statistics designation during 2021-22
- establish a framework, strategy and priorities for our role in regulating statistics on inequalities. We will also explore topics that support inclusivity in society – for example, accessibility of transport networks, shining a light on where the granularity of data do not allow us to understand the lived experience
- use our automation programme to develop our ability to understand how statistics are being used, building on a pilot on policing in 2019
We will develop our understanding of what the public good means and the implications for statistics producers. This will support us to maximise our impact and think about how official statistics can best serve the public good.
We will develop our understanding of what the public good means and the implications this has for statistics producers. This will support us to maximise our impact and think about how official statistics can best serve the public good. In 2021/22 we will:
- conduct primary research with the public to understand definitions of public good
- complete our review of the National Statistics designation, presenting recommendations to the Authority Board and developing and user testing proposed solutions
We will provide challenge for the statistical system to build on the good work during the pandemic to identify where new and enhanced statistics and data are needed to answer important questions. This will be particularly important in understanding the longer-term consequences of the pandemic and our exit from the EU but is also an important principle of statistical leadership more generally.
Within the context of the public good, we will develop our understanding of the important questions that decision makers are asking now, and are likely to be asking into the future, and we will consider how well placed the statistics system is to answer those questions. We have seen in the last year producers of statistics move quickly to address gaps raised by the pandemic but how far are they considering future data needs, and how sustainable is the infrastructure to build on the good work we have seen, and over a broader landscape of the economy and society? In 2021/22 we will:
- monitor new COVID-19 data requirements and producer plans for meeting those needs: for example, on survival rates, long-Covid, impacts on births and maternity provision, divorce and families, adult social care, suicides, and mental health. We will look at how far there will be a sufficient evidence base to inform social and economic policy around the long-term consequences of the pandemic, including the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people into the future
- understand how well the current statistics and data meet the current and future needs of society and are delivering public value
- develop our focus on the issues of the less well heard voices and reach out beyond known users. We are good at listening to any user who approaches us but we are less good at searching out user perspectives, and we will develop our approaches to identifying issues of public concern
Progressing our 5-year strategic ambitions
All of our identified areas of focus for 2021/22 will serve our 5-year strategic ambitions. In addition, we will resource some ongoing projects and integrated activities that will build our capability to move those ambitions forward over the medium term. Some examples include:
- statistical leadership: Continue to build on our report: “Statistical leadership: Making analytical insight count” which looked at how statistical leadership can be strengthened across government. The report was intended to act as a starting point for further engagement. We are engaging widely across analytical and other professions, and plan to provide an update in 2022 on how the analytical community is responding to our recommendations
- initiate an Insight project on the role of statistics in evaluating policy impacts
- statistical literacy: Create a framework that will allow OSR to capitalise on opportunities that arise through our work and key collaborations, rather than making statistical literacy the focus of a single project