This is one of a series of reports prepared under the provisions of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007. The Act gives the UK Statistics Authority power to re-assess whether the Code of Practice for Official Statistics continues to be complied with in relation to official statistics already designated as National Statistics. The report covers the set of statistics reported in Small Area Model-Based Income Estimates, produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The previous assessment of this set of statistics was reported in Assessment Report 160, published in December 2011. The Assessment team identified areas where it felt that ONS could strengthen its compliance with the Code, which ONS addressed during the course of the assessment. The Authority confirmed the National Statistics designation of these statistics in a letter to ONS on 20 January 20126. The estimates have been re-assessed due to their occasional (ad hoc) release; they were originally assessed retrospectively after the previous publication of the statistics. There was also particular interest in gaining the views of users during the course of the development and after the release of the new (2011 Census-based) estimates.

This report was prepared by the Authority’s Assessment team, and approved by the Regulation Committee on behalf of the Board of the UK Statistics Authority, based on the advice of the Director General for Regulation.

In coming to its decision, the Authority notes that there is a clear demand for income estimates, which are not fully met by the ONS statistics due to a number of reasons, including the level of geography, the type of average produced, and the frequency and timeliness of release. ONS is undertaking useful work in researching a new method to produce median estimates of income for small areas. It has also told us that there is scope to produce further mean estimates, using the current method, that would be more timely than the 2011/12 estimates reviewed in this Assessment. So while the Authority judges that the statistics covered by this report are readily accessible, produced according to sound methods and managed impartially and objectively in the public interest, we consider that ONS needs to go much further to really add public value from the statistics. The Requirements in this report point towards that need to enhance the value of these statistics. ONS should take appropriate actions to meet the Requirements listed in paragraph 1.10 and report them to the Authority by July 2016. Once the Authority has agreed that appropriate actions have been taken by ONS, it will confirm that the statistics published in Small area model-based income estimates are designated as National Statistics.

Letter of confirmation as National Statistics