The UK Statistical System

The UK statistical system comprises different types of statistics and data covering all aspects of society from births to deaths, from tax to income and from farming to shipping data.  

Official statistics are produced by a wide range of public sector bodies, including government departments, the devolved administrations, arm’s length bodies and the Office for National Statistics (ONS). When statistics produced by these public bodies are assessed by OSR as meeting the standards set out in the Code they are designated as National Statistics. A database of National Statistics, which we update regularly, is available on our website.  

As shown below in figure 1, there are a range of data and statistics produced and published by public bodies. This includes official statistics (of which National Statistics are a sub-set), aggregated numerical information (typically drawn from government’s administrative systems) published as “management information”, data and other ad-hoc statistical and data releases. 

Figure 1

The boundary between official statistics and other types of data and numerical information produced by public bodies is largely arbitrary to most members of the public. In line with our ambition to build public trust in evidence we have increasingly commented on the full range of numerical information used publicly by public bodies.  

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Pressures on the system in 2020/21

The past year has presented society with many challenges. The pandemic has forced many people to change how and where they work. Those working in the statistical system have faced these challenges too. Like others, they have had to balance the needs of childcare and home schooling with work, and to manage the separation from loved ones that lockdown brought. This has often been done while facing increased demands.  

The statistical system has had greater demands placed on it to provide the up-to-date data and statistics needed to inform decisions around the pandemic. We have seen the volumes of casework increase by a couple of hundred in the past year (from 109 in 2019/20 to 323 in 2020/21), perhaps providing some evidence of the increasing interest in and demands placed on the statistical system. Alongside this there has also been a need to continue with business-as-usual data and statistics. For example, data and statistics to understand the impact of the UK exiting the EU has also put pressure on the system at specific points.  


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