Plans for an Economics Centre of Excellence and Data Science Campus at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have been announced as part of the Chancellor’s budget. The new projects will help the UK to build world-leading expertise in data science and to benefit from faster, richer and more precise economic data.

Around £17m of investment will support the initiatives at the ONS headquarters at Newport in South Wales over the next two years. The Deputy National Statistician for Economic Statistics Jonathan Athow said:

“Today’s exciting announcement will greatly help ONS meet the challenges of measuring new forms of economic activity and give policy makers better insights into the UK economy.

“The Economics Centre of Excellence and Data Science Campus are part of ONS’s wider plans to transform into a more innovative, capable and outward-looking organisation.”

The modern economy provides both the challenge of measuring fast-evolving forms of economic activity, and the opportunity to exploit huge amounts of new data and information to help policymakers, researchers and businesses.

The Data Science Campus will act as a hub for the whole of Government to gain practical advantage from the wider investment in data science research and help cement the UK’s reputation as an international leader in data science. By partnering with academia, the ONS will develop more ‘real-time’ economic statistics so that emerging issues and trends are spotted more quickly and understood in greater detail.

The Economics Centre of Excellence will enable ONS to develop strategic partnerships with leading academics and experts in the field of economic statistics and provide a venue for cutting-edge research. The shift from a manufacturing economy to a predominantly services-based one, spurred by the revolution in digital technology, requires new and different ways of measuring output and value.

The Centre will complement ONS’s plans to build up its presence in London and help develop ties with both statistics users and producers. It will give also ONS a strong and flexible resource to help future-proof economic statistics, engage with leading thinkers and allow for secondments with key institutions.

Both projects follow the recommendations of the independent review of Economic Statistics conducted by Sir Charlie Bean of the London School of Economics.

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