ONS has today announced the membership of its new Economic Experts Working Group. The Group comprises some of the most respected economists in the UK. The new group is part of a range of initiatives ONS is undertaking to increase its economics capability, including increasing its number of economists by more than threefold.

The Group’s members are:

  • Martin Weale has just retired as a member of the Monetary Policy Committee and was Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research until 2010. He will be a part-time Professor of Economics at King's College, London from November.
  • Jill Leyland is a former vice president of the Royal Statistical Society. She has previously worked for, among others, the World Gold Council, the Economist Intelligence Unit, the OECD, and the ONS and its predecessor organisations. She is a Fellow of the Society of Business Economists.
  • Thomas Crossley is a Professor of Economic University of Essex and Research Fellow at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). He was also previously director of the consumption and saving research sector at IFS.
  • Peter Sinclair was appointed Professor of Economics at the University of Birmingham in 1994, where he still works. Previously he had been Fellow and Tutor in Economics at Brasenose College, Oxford.
  • David Metcalf is an Emeritus Professor at the London School of Economics (LSE). He is Chair of the Migration Advisory Committee, a Director of the Starting Price Regulatory Commission and a former member of the Senior Salaries Review Body. Previously, he was a founding member of both the Low Pay Commission and the Union Modernisation Fund.

The ONS Fellows will also sit on the new working group. The current Fellows are Diane Coyle (University of Manchester), Mary O'Mahony (King's College, London) and Nicholas Oulton (UCL). ONS will start recruitment for the next cohort of Fellows towards the end of the year.

The Economic Experts Working Group will meet six times a year to help ONS set its development agenda as well as offering expert advice to help solve the difficulties of measuring the changing economy. Joe Grice will move from his current role as Chief Economist at ONS to become the chairman of the Group in November. Nick Vaughan, currently Director of National Accounts and Economic Statistics at ONS, will succeed Joe as ONS Chief Economist. Nick will work alongside Frankie Kay, who was recently appointed as ONS Director of Economic Statistics Transformation.
The other initiatives include:

  • The Office is continuing its heavy programme of recruitment to increase its current complement of economists from around 70 to around 250 over the next few years. The aim is to establish Newport as an acknowledged hub for economic statistics.
  • ONS is today also publishing the contract notice for its new Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence (ESCoE). The ESCoE will be a partnership between ONS and academic and/or private sector institutions to engage in a targeted programme to address the challenges of measuring the economy in the modern world. In addition, the ESCoE will form a platform for discussion, airing and promoting the importance of issues concerning the measurement of a modern economy. The ESCoE will work closely with the new Data Science Campus being set up in Newport, from which collaboration and mutual benefit is expected.
  • ONS is today also announcing a fund of up to £3 million to finance research and development activities between now and the end of 2017/18 to improve the measurement of the economy.

To increase engagement with users and experts further, ONS is working with the Royal Statistical Society and Royal Economic Society on a programme of activities to identify statistical areas for priority development. This collaborative working will complement a joint working group ONS and the Institute of Electrical Engineering and Technology (IEET) have set up to help identify and resolve issues relating to the measurement of rapidly changing areas of the economy.

Commenting on the formation of the new Working Group and the other developments, ONS Director General of Economic Statistics Jonathan Athow said:

“The advice from the highly these respected experts will be an invaluable addition to our economic capability. The Working Group is just one of the measures we are taking to bring about a step change in ONS’s capability and to drive forward its transformation into a world-leading national statistics institute.”

Today’s announcements come on the back of recent advances, including the publication of much faster quarterly estimates of public service productivity, the launch of the first ‘from whom-to-whom’ Flow of Funds statistics and the introduction of longer time series in the 2016 Blue and Pink Books.

Background Notes

  1. More information about the role of the new Economic Experts Working Group is available here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/news/statementsandletters/onseconomicexpertsworkinggroup
  2. Further information about the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence is available here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/news/statementsandletters/economicstatisticscentreofexcellenceescoe
  3. Further information on the Data Science Campus is available here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/aboutus/whatwedo/datasciencecampus
  4. Information about the new research fund is available here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/news/statementsandletters/onseconomicstatisticsresearchfacility
  5. Information about the ONS Fellowships is available here: http://web.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/mro/news-release/first-ons-fellows-announced/fellows-news-release.html
  6. The UK Flow of Funds Project: Introducing the Enhanced Financial Accounts article is available here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/releases/theukflowoffundsprojectintroducingtheenhancedfinancialaccounts
  7. Information on the introduction of longer time series are available here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/nationalaccounts/uksectoraccounts/articles/nationalaccountshistoricdatasetdevelopmentssincebluebook2011/2016-05-23
  8. New quarterly public service productivity estimates are available here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/labourproductivity/articles/quarterlypublicserviceproductivityexperimentalstatistics/jantomar2016