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‘ Right’ S tatistics ’ Jil Matheson, National Statistician. How have things changed for the Government Statistical Service?. Budgets. Outputs. People. Budgets. Annual Budget, £m. Departmental budgets have got smaller. Financial Year. Outputs.

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right s tatistics jil matheson national statistician
‘Right’ Statistics’

Jil Matheson, National Statistician

departmental budgets have got smaller


Annual Budget, £m

Departmental budgets have got smaller.....

Financial Year



The GSS has reduced the number of outputs it produces....

Outputs in 2010:


Outputs in 2011:


Outputs in 2012:


there are more professional statisticians in the civil service now


There are more professional statisticians in the Civil Service now...

and more people in analytical posts generally


...and more people in analytical posts generally


When faced with budget reductions - what do you do?




Department of Communities and Local Government - The Citizenship Survey

Department of Culture, Media and Sport - Target Group Index statistics on arts attendance

Health and Social Care Information Centre - Prescription Cost Analysis Statistics

Department of Energy and Climate Change - Changes to the publication of monthly coal statistics

MoD (Defence and Analytical Services Agency) - Changes to DASA's annual manpower national statistics publications

Home Office/ONS - Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) ( Previously the British Crime Survey)

Ministry of Justice – Transforming Criminal Justice Statistics (and new Public Disorder Statistics)

Department for Transport –

Traffic counts website - access to annual average daily flow traffic count data for the British ‘A’ road and motorway network

ONS/DWP – Gateway opened to give access to DWP Customer Information System data – for Beyond 2011

Stopping/reducing/redesigning outputs may not be a bad thing.....


Statistics the UK needs

  • Across a decentralised official statistics system, agreeing
  • priorities centrally is very difficult
    • - Some products are very important to a few users, but not top priority overall
    • - Difficult to identify a process to determine priority statistics, even at the top level
  • Seeking to establish a clear view of the priorities for official
  • statistics
    • - Important to take a broad view to identify those statistics that should be part of the core national infrastructure
  • There are two elements:
    • - the need to identify the key "statistics the UK needs“
    • - to challenge and improve the methods and manner of production so that statistics present the best value for money and make the right impact

How do you decide what the right work programme is?

  • Questions to ask:
  • Essential to consider broad user perspective:
  • It is difficult!

Are we staffed at the right capacity to meet our obligations and future needs?

Are we getting maximum value from what we do?

Are we producing what is required?

Can we do things in new ways?

Who decides?

What should the criteria be for determining core statistics?

How should we capture user views?

What would be the benefit to users in knowing what ‘statistics the UK needs’?


Civil Service Reform plan – building capabilities

“The Capabilities Plan will also strengthen the authority and influence of the Civil Service professions.”

“The Civil Service does not always have the right capabilities in the right place to do what is needed.”

“There are significant gaps in capability and skills which need to be filled if the Civil Service is to be able to meet today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.”

“The ‘Heads of Profession’ operate as cross-Government leaders, and have an essential role in improving skills and maintaining professional standards. The Plan will boost the importance of their role in raising standards, departmental appointments, succession planning and talent management.”

“Everyone needs the right combination of professionalism, expert skills and subject matter expertise.”



  • Budgets down, need for statistics up
  • Capability is core
  • Use it, don’t lose it