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Public Sector Finances, 2012: Users of Government Finance Statistics This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 21 September 2012 Download PDF

Abstract

This note provides information on the types of uses and users of the statistics published in the Public Sector Finances statistical bulletin and the Government Deficit and Debt under the Maastricht Treaty statistical bulletin.

Uses and users of Government Finance statistics

This note provides information on the types of uses and users of the statistics published in the Public Sector Finances statistical bulletin and the Government Deficit and Debt under the Maastricht Treaty statistical bulletin.

The main uses and users of Public Sector Finance Statistics

The primary purpose of the Public Sector Finances (PSF) bulletin is to inform its users of the state of the public sector finances and the fiscal position. It is a monthly publication, based on the National Accounts framework and it is compiled in accordance with the standards set out in the European System of Accounts 1995 (ESA95) under European law. It is published jointly by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and HM Treasury and it reports on key public sector financial statistics such as:

  • Public Sector Current Budget,

  • Public Sector Net Borrowing,

  • Public Sector Net Debt,

  • Public Sector Net Debt as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The main users of the PSF statistics are, naturally, within the public sector; HM Treasury, the UK Debt Management Office (DMO) and the Office for Budget Responsibility. The PSF statistics form a vital input to the policy and forecasting work of HM Treasury and the OBR.

A number of the key figures in the Public Sector Finances bulletin are used nationally by the Government to monitor progress against fiscal targets. The most important of these aggregates are;

  • Public Sector Net Borrowing,

  • Surplus on the Current Budget,

  • Public Sector Net Debt as a percentage of GDP,

  • Public Sector Net Cash Requirement,

  • Central Government Net Cash Requirement.

Although these are the key figures monitored against fiscal forecasts by the Office for Budgetary Responsibility (OBR), HM Treasury and other interested parties, a wider range of statistics available from the Public Sector Finances are used for monitoring purposes. This is evidenced in the OBR’s “Economic and Fiscal Outlook” (and its supplementary tables) which compares the detailed forecasts with the latest data available in the Public Sector Finances.

The main uses and users of Government Deficit and Debt under the Maastricht Treaty Statistics

The primary purpose of the Government Deficit and Debt under the Maastricht Treaty (EDP) statistical bulletin and its associated data sets is for the European Commission to monitor performance against the Maastricht Treaty and the Stability and Growth Pact through the Excessive Deficit Procedure.

The UK is obliged to provide these data to Eurostat under European law. The bulletin is a six-monthly publication based on the National Accounts framework and is compiled in accordance with the standards set out in ESA95 and the Manual on Government Deficit and Debt. This statistical bulletin provides internationally comparable data on:

  • UK general government debt,

  • UK general government deficit (or net borrowing),

  • The non-financial accounts of the general government sector,

  • The financial accounts and financial balance sheet of the general government sector.

European Union debt and deficit targets for governments are set out in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty on European Union and the 1997 Stability and Growth Pact. The two key target measures specified are:

  • General Government Net Borrowing as a percentage of GDP,

  • General Government Debt as a percentage of GDP.

Other international bodies such as the European Central Bank (ECB), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) utilise the EDP statistics in monitoring the performance of and assessing the sustainability of the UK economy.

Other uses and users of Government Finance Statistics

There is, however, a broad range of other users who find the PSF and EDP statistics of great use. These include:

  • The general public – who will use the (headline) statistics in assessing UK fiscal performance and in assessing the impacts for their own well-being and investment decisions.

  • Research/analytical organisations such as the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR), the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the Scottish Government and the Economic and Statistics department of the House of Commons Library who use the data as input into their economic assessments of economic performance and sustainability.

  • Commercial analysis and research bodies, e.g. CEIC Data Co. Ltd, FactSet and Timetric who make use of the data in providing analytical services to clients.

  • Research/analytical bodies of other countries, e.g. the Spanish Embassy’s Economic and Commercial Office and the Japan Post Bank’s research department, who will be interested in the data in the context of comparative international performance and competitiveness.

  • Academic bodies, e.g. Cardiff Business School and Aberdeen Business School who make use of the data in many ways, particularly for economic analysis and as the data foundation of articles for academic journals.

  • Advisors to large national and international businesses and institutions and securities dealers/advisers, e.g. McKinsey and Company Inc and Investec Securities, who make use of the data in preparing analyses, risk assessments and investment advice for clients.

  • Financial institutions, e.g. Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan, who use the statistics in assessing risk, investment strategy etc and in providing advice to clients.

  • News media organisations, such as Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg, the national newspapers, in delivering the ‘headlines’ and in ‘telling the story’.

  • Rating agencies, e.g. Moody’s, Fitch, etc, in providing risk analysis and investment advice to clients.

Although much of the user focus in both sets of statistics (PSF and EDP) is on the latest periods, a particular strength of the statistics is that they provide users with extensive longitudinal data series for analysis (available both within the bulletin and as downloadable time series).

Users are able to employ these series to identify and explore trends in the public finances. This type of use is particularly common within academic institutions and private research organisations.

User engagement

Key users of the PSF and Government Deficit and Debt under the Maastricht Treaty statistical bulletins, such as OBR, the Bank of England, and international bodies, such as Eurostat and IMF are in regular dialogue with the ONS and HM Treasury via a range of different UK and international working groups.

Users generally are consulted as to their views of the statistical bulletins and how well these meet their needs. These consultations will continue to take the form of both web surveys and workshop events which are open to the public. It is planned to hold regular workshop events, at least annually, and to repeat the web survey of users every two years.

Background notes

  1. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

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