In May 2021, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) published an Assessment Report of UK Productivity statistics. In response, we have written an Action Plan focusing on three priority areas for the development of productivity statistics – enhancing user engagement, developing new products and analysis, and communicating data quality and uncertainty. The Action Plan details what we have already done, and what we plan to do, to improve the public value of productivity statistics.
We posted that Action Plan under the Productivity theme on Statistics User Net on 5 July 2021. StatsUserNet is a public facing and freely accessible engagement platform, managed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), for statistics users, statistics producers and anyone who is interested in statistics. This statement summarises the Action Plan, and interested users are encouraged to review the full Action Plan on StatsUserNet, or get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy.
Enhancing user engagement
The OSR report recommended that the ONS enhances its user engagement related to productivity statistics to improve the value users get from these statistics.
User engagement was reduced during 2020 because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as resources at the ONS were temporarily diverted to higher priority areas. Prior to that, the ONS ran a number of user events over several years, although often these focused on communicating plans rather than seeking input.
In April 2021 we ran a survey of productivity users to seek their views and input on development priorities. In May 2021 we ran a productivity user engagement event, featuring guest presentations and discussion sessions. Summaries of both the survey and the event can be found on StatsUserNet, and we will use this feedback to inform our development priorities. We intend to repeat both the survey and event on an annual basis.
We are holding regular bilateral conversations with the main government users, including HM Treasury, the Bank of England, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). We also communicate with a wide mailing list of users on a quarterly basis by email.
We will publish an update to the Productivity Development Plan later this year, drawing on the feedback from users collected via these various methods. We will continue to engage with users in these ways, and welcome users to get in touch at email@example.com at any time to be added to our mailing list, ask questions, or share views.
Developing new products and analysis
To provide more insight around productivity, we are exploring the creation of a productivity industry “spotlight” series. This would feature regular analytical articles on different industries, diving into the data on productivity and related topics for that industry. The chosen industries would be driven by topical events and user demand. We intend to trial this approach with some articles later this year, likely to be on the retail and construction industries.
We also have plans to publish research on adjusting for capital utilisation in multi-factor productivity statistics, develop an introductory guide to productivity microdata research, and update the Annual Respondent Database (ARDx) in the Secure Research Service.
Communicating data quality and uncertainty
We published an assessment of the indicative impact of double deflation on productivity estimates on 28 June 2021. We also intend to publish details of the impact of changes to Labour Force Survey methodology made during 2020 and 2021 in response to the pandemic, on productivity estimates in summer 2021.
We are committed to restarting publication of International Comparisons of Productivity, which has been suspended since 2018 following data quality concerns. We published an update on our progress in February 2021. We intend to undertake research with the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence (ESCoE) on presentation approaches, to inform the graphics we use when we recommence publication, which is planned for later in 2021. Our work to improve the international comparability of our labour data will also continue, and we will engage with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and other national statistical institutes on this.
We are committed to delivering the actions outlined in this statement to improve the value of productivity statistics for users. More details are given in the full Action Plan published on StatsUserNet where we will post updates on our work. You can also get in contact via firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy. We invite interested users to read the Action Plan and share their feedback by commenting on StatsUserNet or sending us an email.