The Office for National Statistics has put together an economists supergroup to avoid dodgy data

Jake Cordell
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The Office for National Statistics has been criticised for failing to keep up with the digital economy
The Office for National Statistics has been criticised for failing to keep up with the digital economy (Source: Getty)

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has beefed up its research team with the appointment of a new expert panel of economists - a supergroup, if you will - as it seeks to respond to a string of criticism.

Former Bank of England rate-setter Martin Weale, who has just left the monetary policy committee (MPC) after a six-year stint, will join the new economics experts working group, announced today.

The panel is being put together as the stats body faces attacks from MPs and economists over the quality of its work. Sir Charlie Bean, former deputy governor at Threadneedle Street said earlier this year ONS "statistics have failed to keep pace with the impact of digital technology" in a wholesale review into the organisation.

Influential Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie, overseeing the report in his role as chair of the Treasury Select Committee branded ONS stats "scarcely fit for purpose" in response to Bean's findings. He added: "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."

Read more: MPs want better stats on the UK's digital economy

Tyrie feared dodgy data was jeopardising policymaking in the UK.

The ONS said the new body will be tasked with "offering expert advice to help solve the difficulties of measuring the changing economy" as the stats body increasingly battles to make sure it has the most accurate and timely data to inform policymakers.

The five-strong panel also includes Jill Leyland, former vice president of the Royal Statistical Society, Thomas Crossley, a research fellow at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), Peter Sinclair, a professor at the University of Birmingham and David Metcalf, chair of the migration advisory committee and professor at LSE.

Jonathan Athow, the ONS' economics stats chief 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’ capability and to drive forward its transformation into a world-leading national statistics institute."

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