ONS funding boost for measuring the new economy

The ONS will receive £9 million to develop new “super-fast” indicators for the UK economy

The ONS will receive a funding boost of £9 million to develop cutting-edge methodologies for measuring how the UK economy is performing, the Chancellor announced today (11 April 2019). The new data will improve our understanding of the economy and ensure policy-makers can use new “super-fast” indicators to inform decisions that affect the whole country.

This new funding is part of our plan to build an economy fit for the future and will allow the ONS to:

• Implement the superior ‘double-deflation’ methodology of calculating GDP, improving how we measure costs, prices and production. This will bring the ONS in line with the best international standards, give us a more accurate picture of how the UK economy is performing, and provide better estimates of productivity and output across the economy.

• Develop a range of “super-fast” indicators of economic activity, utilising new big data sets to create a clearer view of how the economy is changing in real time.

• Train 500 fully qualified government data scientists by 2021 to support better policy-making and understanding of the economy – a ten-fold increase from 2017.

Today’s services-dominated digital economy is more complicated and fast-moving than the goods-based economy of the past.

Today’s funding will help the ONS keep pace with this changing economy, ensuring that UK statistics more accurately capture economic activity, which is crucial for government policy-making like tax and spending plans. It will also help train the next generation of data scientists, making sure we have the skills to better understand our data-rich economy.

This funding will ensure we’re modernising our data measurement alongside our wider investments to build an economy fit for the future, including investment in AI research, speeding up the rollout full-fibre broadband and making tax digital.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, said:

"Our modern economy is constantly evolving so it is vital we have the data and tools to understand it.

"Funding for new data scientists, improving our statistics and harnessing the power of big data will help us to quickly identify and address the challenges of the new economy and seize the opportunities that lie ahead."

John Pullinger, National Statistician said:

"Recent investment in the ONS has driven some important new developments in the measurement of our rapidly evolving economy.

"The continuing support of HM Treasury will enable the next stage in our transformation of the UK’s key economic indicators."