The use of official statistics in UK public policy: facilitators and barriers

21 May 2024
Last updated:
21 May 2024

1. Executive Summary

This publication details the underlying research behind our cover piece – Statistics for the public good: Facilitating their role in public policy.

This literature review explores how official statistics can contribute to public policy  – the actions and plans of the government and other public actors – across the UK. Official statistics are statistics produced by crown bodies (or those acting on behalf of crown bodies) or which are specified in statutory orders.   

The review examines the publicly available literature on the different ways that official statistics have been used to shape, inform and evaluate government policies, such as those related to health, education, environment, crime, welfare and the economy.  

The review then goes on to identify and discuss some of the factors that facilitate or hinder the effective use of official statistics in policymaking. These have been broadly categorised into factors that relate to people (such as the analytical capacity and skills of policy workers and collaboration between data producers and users) and factors that relate to production (such as the engagement of users in the production and dissemination of official statistics, the relevance of these statistics, the frequency and timeliness with which they are produced and their accessibility to users).  

The review concludes that official statistics can serve the public good by supporting evidence-based policymaking that is rigorous, robust and responsive to the needs and preferences of the public, while recognising the complexities and challenges of integrating official statistics in different policy contexts and processes. By presenting this information, we seek to help statistics producers and those working in policy to ensure official statistics are used more effectively throughout the policy lifecycle from identifying policy need, to informing policy development and finally in setting targets and providing accountability through policy monitoring and evaluation. 


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