On 26 July 2007, the Statistics and Registration Service Act received Royal Assent heralding a new era of independence for both the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and for the broader UK statistical system. The Act enables the creation of a new independent body, the UK Statistics Authority, which will distance itself from ministers as a non-ministerial department accountable to Parliament.
The Statistics Authority has a statutory responsibility to promote and safeguard the production and publication of official statistics. It also oversees and ensures the quality, good practice and comprehensiveness of these statistics.
The Statistics Authority is the legal successor to ONS, which has in turn become its 'executive office'. The Authority also absorbed the role performed by the Statistics Commission and its responsibilities cover the entire UK statistical system.
In general, the Act does not affect the decentralised nature of the UK statistical system. The majority of National Statistics will continue to be produced by the wider Government Statistical Service (GSS) under the professional management of the Heads of Profession for Statistics (HoPs) in each Administration, Department or Agency.
The Authority's Board consists of the Chair, seven non-executive members, and three executive members, one of whom is the National Statistician. The Board has three main functions:
to monitor, and report on, the production and publication of official statistics
to prepare, adopt and publish a Code of Practice for Statistics; assess whether official statistics comply with this code; and, if so, designate them as 'National Statistics'
to provide the top level of governance for what is currently ONS
About the need for a separate statistics authority and board which oversee national statistics
Overview of the statistics act and its relation to the statistics board
Information on the arrangement of the UK Statistics Authority
About the Statistics Authority's responsibilities to parliament and the public