BCC: Organisations should share their vital statistics

Quarterly Economic Survey - BCC

Public sector bodies should combine with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to transform their economic data, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

An interim report by Professor Sir Charlie Bean, published earlier this week, outlined how the ONS should make the most of new data sources to transform statistics.

The study, entitled the ‘Independent Review of UK Economic Statistics’, makes a list of key recommendations with the aim of cutting edge economic statistics.

“Official data has a huge impact on business decisions and wider economic confidence,” said Dr Adam Marshall, the BCC’s Executive Director for Policy and External Affairs.

“Charlie Bean is right to focus on addressing the quality and delivery of these statistics – particularly on how much the economy produces, and the limited availability of reliable information on key areas such as services and trade.

“Businesses want the Bean Review’s final recommendations to lead to official figures that better reflect the changing structure and characteristics of the UK economy, both now and in the future.”

Among the recommendations include: an improved sharing from public sector groups to the ONS; new legislation to help open up publicly held microdata to the ONS; an investment by the ONS in staff and technology; ONS being on the lookout for new data sources and techniques; and using government administrative data to help improve economic statistics – such as accurate estimates of GDP, improving regional statistics and providing more insight into financial, trade and labour market flows.

“It’s nonsensical that different bits of the government don’t speak to each other, so that businesses and households have to provide the same information twice,” said the report’s author.

“Unlocking the data hoard already held by the public sector will not only save businesses money but also produce more timely and accurate statistics.

“A culture shift at the ONS is also key to producing economic statistics for a modern economy. It needs to become an organisation which is more intellectually curious, open and self-critical, as well as better at engaging with its customers.”

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