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Covid statistics performance to be probed by Committee

19 October 2021

Representatives from the UK premier stats bodies and their regulator will be questioned by the cross-party Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee to review their performance and the challenges faced during Covid-19.

The Coronavirus pandemic has increased the pressures on statistical authorities with new and high demand relating to infections and immunity and scrutiny of official figures. The Office for Statistics Regulation, the UK Statistics Authority’s (UKSA) arms-length independent regulator, reported a threefold increase in complaints during 2020/21, with nearly half questioning the reliability and trustworthiness of statistics – the first time it has been the largest complaint category.

Sir David Norgrove, outgoing Chair of the UKSA, was among those who called out politicians, including former Health Secretary Matt Hancock, on their misuse of statistics earlier this month. Sir David is due to be succeeded in his role in April 2022.

During this period, the 2021 census was also conducted, the first to be conducted mostly online.

Among the topics MPs on the Committee are likely to ask the panel about are:

  • lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic;

  • capacity of statistical bodies following rise in casework;

  • strengthening links with policymaking; and

  • fitness of the system of and approach to official statistics in the UK.

Witnesses

Thursday 21 October 2021, 10am

  • Sir David Norgrove, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA);

  • Ed Humpherson, Director General of Regulation, Office for Statistics Regulation;

  • Sir Ian Diamond, National Statistician, Office for National Statistics.

Further information

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