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Public Sector: Databases

HM Treasury written question – answered on 11th December 2017.

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Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Industrial Strategy)

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps the Government is taking to promote innovation in the collection and analysis of micro-level economic data by (a) government departments, (b) devolved administrations, (c) combined authorities and (d) Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Photo of Steve Barclay Steve Barclay The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

The government recognises that we need the best possible data to facilitate policy making. The government commissioned Professor Sir Charles Bean to carry out an Independent Review of UK Economic Statistics, which reported in March 2016. Since then, the government has invested over £10m to enable the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to develop world-leading analytical and digital capabilities in economic measurement in line with the review’s recommendations. This funding has delivered a new Data Science Campus – allowing the ONS to utilise ‘big data’ to produce more innovative, timely and accurate statistics – and a partnership with leading academics through the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence to push the frontiers of economic measurement and ensure UK’s economic statistics remain world leading.

The ONS plans to use new powers provided for within the Digital Economy Act 2017 to harness micro-data held by the public sector and commercial data holders for statistics and research purposes.

The ONS is already taking its first steps in using administrative data, to improve its official statistics. Beginning this month, the ONS will be using VAT within its quarterly national accounts. The ONS have also recently published the results of analysis linking firm-level foreign domestic investment data on immediate foreign ownership to firm-level responses to the Annual Business Survey to examine variations in productivity outcomes, and are actively working with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to access microdata including Pay As You Earn (PAYE) data, with a view to incorporating these into measures of household income and UK employment.

In this work the ONS is committed to protecting privacy and confidentiality. In addition to the various legislative safeguards in place, the ONS has established the National Statistician's Data Ethics Advisory Committee, to ensure that the access, use and sharing of public data is ethical and for the public good. Detailed information on how the ONS is keeping data safe is set out on its website.

On Combined Authorities:

Government is working with the new Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) to develop monitoring and evaluation frameworks for each MCA. As part of that we are working with the What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth to explore how the impact of key devolved policies could be analysed at the MCA level.

On Local Enterprise Partnerships:

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) have played a leading role in economic planning since their creation. Since 2013, each LEP has developed a Strategic Economic Plan for their localities using economic data to support their approach to driving growth in their local area.

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