The need for ‘public statistics’: statistical priorities for the UK in 2024

The Society’s National Statistics Advisory Group (NSAG) has set out its priorities for the coming year for the UK’s statistical system.

The group, chaired by the RSS’s honorary officer for national statistics Paul Allin, develops the Society’s policies around official statistics, in areas such as inflation, data sharing and governance.

It is prioritising a public-centric approach to UK official statistics, advocating for the concept of ‘public statistics’. Concerns have been raised about the predominant focus on meeting government needs, prompting NSAG to call for a more inclusive approach aligning with diverse public interests.

Actively engaging with stakeholders, including the ONS, the group is calling for more statistics and data that meet public needs to be brought into the official statistics system.

Other topics for NSAG’s agenda include:

User engagement: The RSS now hosts the Forum of Statistics User Groups (FoSUG) which will meet again this year on key topics of interest. We will also continue to engage and establish relationships with the Government Statistical Service’s heads of profession, as well maintaining regular contact with the ONS and the statistics regulator.

Inflation: We remain committed to the Household Costs Indices now published quarterly by the ONS as the best way to understand inflation experienced by households. Efforts will continue to push for their further development.

Beyond GDP: We will encourage more discussion around how we measure the UK’s progress in terms of inclusive and sustainable wellbeing as well as by economic growth. What do these  statistics mean for how we live our lives?

Population and migration statistics: While we broadly support the ONS proposal to replace the census with administrative data, NSAG has highlighted six areas which need further focus before these plans can move forward.

The full update from NSAG along with reflections of important developments from the past year, is available in our policy documents section.
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