The Office for National Statistics (ONS) complies with the following legislation governing how we can use data:
The Statistics and Registration Service Act (SRSA) 2007 created the UK Statistics Authority (referred to as the Statistics Board in the Act), with the statutory objective of promoting and safeguarding the production and publication of official statistics that serve the public good; the ONS is the Authority’s executive office. The Act protects personal information by making its disclosure a criminal offence, except in certain prescribed circumstances.
In 2017, the Digital Economy Act amended the SRSA, providing the ONS with permissive and mandatory gateways to receive data from all public authorities and Crown bodies and new powers to mandate data from some UK businesses; in limited circumstances, data held by the ONS may also be shared with the devolved administrations solely for statistical purposes.
The Pre-release Access to Official Statistics Order 2008 (made under the powers in the SRSA) provides the rules under which pre-release access to statistics is granted; separate Orders apply to statistics specific to the devolved administrations.
Data Protection Legislation (including the General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act 2018) outline our obligations in relation to the processing of personal data and the principles that need to be followed in order for such processing to be lawful. It also provides some exemptions for the processing of personal data solely for statistical purposes.
The Freedom of Information Act 2000, The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 together set out information that we must proactively publish and requirements to make information available on request.
The Public Records Act 1958 provides a framework for the retention and destruction of public records.
The Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015 removes barriers that hinder, and actively encourages, the making available of public sector information for reuse.
The ONS complies with the following legislation governing access to data:
The SRSA allows the ONS to obtain information relating to births and deaths as well as NHS registration and some HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) information.
The Census Act 1920 makes provision for the taking of a census and obtaining statistical information in relation to the population of Great Britain.
The Statistics of Trade Act 1947 allows the ONS to run mandatory surveys of businesses and, in limited circumstances, to share the data received with other government departments.
The Value Added Tax Act 1994 allows the ONS to obtain Value Added Tax (VAT) data from HMRC and, in limited circumstances, to disclose that data onward to other government departments.
The Finance Act 1969 allows the ONS to receive employer information from HMRC and, in limited circumstances, to disclose that information onward to other government departments.
The Social Security Administration Act 1992 allows the ONS to receive information relating to pay contributions held by HMRC.
The Agricultural Statistics Act 1979 allows the ONS to obtain information on agricultural matters.
The Employment and Training Act 1973 allows disclosure of business data in limited circumstances, for example, to local authorities for planning purposes.
Chapter 5 of Part 5 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 facilitates the linking and sharing of de-identified data by public authorities for accredited research purposes to support valuable new research insights about UK society and the economy. The UK Statistics Authority is the statutory accrediting body for the accreditation of processors, researchers and their projects under the Act.