Treasury select committee chairman Andrew Tyrie slams the government over ONS and OBR, saying UK statistics are "scarcely fit for purpose"

 
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Tyrie said the UK has fallen behind other countries when it comes to number-crunching (Source: Getty)

A leading MP has slammed the government over its number-crunching, saying some of the UK's statistics are "scarcely fit for purpose".

Andrew Tyrie, who chairs the Treasury select committee, said today that the UK has "fallen behind other countries" when it comes to compiling national statistics.

"The ONS has fallen a long way short, lacking intellectual curiosity, prone to silly mistakes, and unresponsive to the needs of consumers of its statistics," Tyrie said. "Worse still, the watchdog, created in 2008 to keep ONS, among others, up to the mark, has been asleep on the job."

Tyrie made the comments following a Treasury committee evidence session this morning with Sir Charles Bean, a London School of Economics professor who has been tasked with producing a report on UK economic statistics.

Tyrie said Bean's work "matter[s] a lot".

"Poor statistics lead to poor public policy decisions, and hold back the private sector, resulting in a loss of welfare to millions of people. What may seem recondite and dry is crucial for an advanced western economy.

"The Treasury committee has been expressing a good deal of concern about the quality of UK statistics for several years, and has raised it on a number of occasions with the Bank of England, among others."

The Treasury committee's most-recent hit at official statistics came last month, when MPs told the government's fiscal watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to come up with ways to improve its models after tweaks to its forecasts gave chancellor George Osborne and extra £11.5bn to spend over the next five years.

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