Iain Bell, Deputy National Statistician has written to Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation at the UK Statistics Authority, to request the support of his office for the reclassification of the Migration Statistics Quarterly Report (MSQR) as Experimental Statistics. In response Ed Humpherson has confirmed that the Authority has concluded that the MSQR should not be designated National Statistics.
Iain Bell said: “We have been transforming our migration statistics, making use of all available data to get a richer and deeper understanding of migration as a priority since September 2017. This work has involved Departments across Government to harness the power of new data sources following the passing of the Digital Economy Act 2017.
“To date this picture was mainly based on the International Passenger Survey. ONS has been clear about its limitations. It is an intentions-based survey. There are indications that the link between intentions and behaviours are changing, particularly for some groups of EU and non-EU citizens.
“Our findings so far support previously published estimates of headline net migration. However, while the headline trend is broadly unchanged, our programme of work has revealed some differences between data sources.
“As a result, EU migration may have been somewhat higher and non-EU migration somewhat lower than previously published. These differences largely reflect uncertainty in intentions among specific groups.
“We have made adjustments based on the new data sources. These are giving us the best assessment yet of migration trends. This will be reflected in the latest migration statistics quarterly estimates tomorrow.
“We have confidence in our overall assessment of migration trends, but recognise that development will be ongoing as we look to more data sources as set out in our workplan. We have asked the Office for Statistics Regulation to support our reclassification of international migration statistics to Experimental Statistics during this period of development and innovation to meet the public good.
“We expect our current work programme to be complete by this time next year when we will seek re-designation to National Statistics status.”
Today we publish our latest update in the transformation work, which shows that EU migration may have been somewhat higher and non-EU migration somewhat lower than previously published. These differences largely reflect uncertainty in intentions among specific groups.