UK stats body to receive £9m to develop 'super fast' economic indicators

 
Harry Robertson
Follow Harry
A street is pictured in Reading town cen
The ONS said it will harness “big data” to help improve its measuring of the economy. (Source: Getty)

The UK’s statistics body will receive a funding boost of £9m to help develop new “super fast” economic indicators to help it more accurately measure Britain’s increasingly complex economy.


Read more: UK statistics body to start using new, quicker indicators

The money will also allow the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to implement a new way of measuring the size of GDP that it is thought will provide better estimates of productivity and output, the Treasury announced today.

The ONS said the funding is part of its plan to use new “big data” data sets to better assess the size and health of the economy.

A portion of the £9m will go towards training 500 qualified government data scientists by 2021, a ten-fold increase from 2017.


New measures the ONS will use to gauge the economy include indicators on early value-added tax (VAT) returns, ship-tracking data and road traffic information to give an early picture of the state of the UK economy before its full GDP release.

The organisation hopes they will help highlight economic stress through changing spending patterns and indicate trends in UK and international trade.

The ONS will move to a “double deflation” method of measuring GDP which it is hoped will make better use of data on price changes to improve the consistency between real and nominal estimates.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, said: “Our modern economy is constantly evolving so it is vital we have the data and tools to understand it.”

“Funding for new data scientists, improving our statistics and harnessing the power of big data will help us to quickly identify and address the challenges of the new economy and seize the opportunities that lie ahead,” he said.

National Statistician John Pullinger said: “Recent investment in the ONS has driven some important new developments in the measurement of our rapidly evolving economy.”

Read more: Britain's economy grows faster than predicted in February

He said: “The continuing support of HM Treasury will enable the next stage in our transformation of the UK’s key economic indicators.”