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Data in SocietyChallenging Statistics in an Age of Globalisation$
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Jeff Evans, Sally Ruane, and Humphrey Southall

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781447348214

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447348214.001.0001

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The control and ‘fitness for purpose’ of UK official statistics

The control and ‘fitness for purpose’ of UK official statistics

(p.119) 9 The control and ‘fitness for purpose’ of UK official statistics
Data in Society

David Rhind

Policy Press

This chapter describes the evolution of UK Official Statistics over an 80 year period under the influence of personalities, politics and government policies, new user needs and changing technology. These have led to changing institutional structures – such as the Statistics Commission - and periodic oscillations in what statistics are created and the ease of their accessibility by the public. The chapter concludes with the impact of the first major statistical legislation for 60 years, particularly as a consequence of its creation of the UK Statistics Authority. This has included major investment in quality assurance of National and Official Statistics and in professional resourcing. These changes are very welcome, as is the statutory specification of government statistics as a public good by the 2007 Statistics and Registration Service Act. But problems of access to some data sets and the pre-release of key economic statistics to selected groups of users remain. Given the widespread societal consequences of the advent of new technologies, what we collect and how we do it will inevitably continue to change rapidly.

Keywords:   Public good, public trust, Statistics Commission, UK Statistics Authority, technology

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