An influential group of MPs have today raised red flags over the government's handling of official national statistics, ahead of the publication of a major review on the subject.
Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative MP who chairs the Treasury Select Committee, has written to Sir Charlie Bean calling for a "shake up" of UK national statistics.
Bean, a former deputy governor for monetary policy at the Bank of England, was appointed by chancellor George Osborne to conduct a review of UK economic statistics at last summer's Budget. Bean's review is due to be published next month.
An interim review out in December claimed the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) has "failed to keep up with the times".
"It’s nonsensical that different bits of the government don’t speak to each other, so that businesses and households have to provide the same information twice," Bean said at the time. "Unlocking the data hoard already held by the public sector will not only save businesses money but also produce more timely and accurate statistics."
Alongside the letter to Bean released today, Tyrie said he "very much" hopes Bean can produce his final report before Osborne's next Budget on Wednesday, 16 March.
"[Bean's] interim report was trenchant about the defects in current arrangements and the need for remedy," Tyrie said today. "The chancellor should act."
The Treasury Select Committee has made its own recommendations for changes that Bean could include in his final report, including the creation of a "small advisory body" to regulate official statistics.
The committee has also called for full responsibility of statistics to be handed to the Treasury, while allowing for more scrutiny by parliament. Specifically, the committee wants appointments for the national statistician and the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority to be "subject to full pre-appointment scrutiny by parliament".