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Integrity of the public sector finances data: Financial Times, 28 February 2013

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Letter for publication in reponse to an article in the Financial Times, 28 February 2013

Issue date: 01 March 2013
Type: Letter to the Press

Dear Sir

In his article ("Britain's official statistics are no longer to be trusted", 28 February), Chris Giles seems to be arguing that ONS's independence from political interference should be demonstrated by departing from recognised EU accounting principles.

Since 1997 UK government finances have been aligned with internationally agreed standards. These provide a clear, trusted basis for the UK's public finances. To ignore that link risks creating a confusing situation in which the measures of gross debt and deficit prepared under European law included these payments, but the leading domestic UK measure ignored them. This would be very hard to justify.

Mr Giles also questions the role of the Public Sector Finances Technical Advisory Group. As its name makes clear, this group, made up of statistical experts from ONS, HM Treasury and the Department for Communities and Local Government, is advisory in nature. The Committee is bound by the Code of Practice for Official Statistics and these decisions are ultimately my responsibility as National Statistician. It is misleading to imply that the process is in any way tainted by political influence.

Yours faithfully

Jil Matheson
National Statistician


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