People Committee

The People Committee supports the National Statistician and statistical Heads of Profession (HoPs) in providing a world class statistical service.

It works to strengthen the Government Statistical Service (GSS) as a community for sharing best practice and team working. The committee also focuses on recruitment, personal development, talent management and retention for the Government Statistician Group (GSG), in line with the GSS strategy.

The committee meets four times a year and has four main responsibilities:

Each year, the committee develops a programme of work for approval by the National Statistician and statistical HoPs.

The present chair of the committee is David Blunt, Chief Statistician and statistical HoP at the the Ministry of Justice. The membership is made up of senior managers from UK government departments and devolved administrations.


The purpose of the People Committee is to develop and review people policies and practice for the GSS community (i.e. everyone who works with official statistics).

The committee:

  • reports and make recommendations bi-annually to statistical HoPs on people issues for decision-making
  • provides governance to two steering groups: “Learning and Development” and “Career Frameworks”, facilitating flexible responsibility between the two
  • contributes to the content of the GSS People Plan (launching in April 2019)
  • sets the priorities according to the GSS People Plan
  • oversees progress against the GSS People Plan, providing an annual report to statistical HoPs
  • is the main mechanism for seeking and receiving feedback on people issues from across the GSS
  • ensures new policies and procedures are embedded consistently
  • has responsibility for the Government Statistician Group (GSG) competency framework, the continuing professional development policy, the policies for the core statistical training programme and the GSS recruitment policies

Ways of working

The committee will:

  • follow the strategic direction set by Civil Service Human Resources, the Analysis Function and Talent Boards.
  • actively contribute to and benefit from the people aspects of the wider analytical community across government
  • review its priorities every six months via the GSS People Plan and maintain a realistic workload
  • ensure that people across the GSS community have opportunities to get involved in its work through either steering groups or task and finish groups
  • ensure that the diversity of needs and views across the GSS are adequately taken into account, including those of the devolved administrations
  • refer appropriate matters to the statistical HoPs and the National Statistician via the chair of the People Committee
  • work under a constituency model

The committee will normally meet on a quarterly basis. Meeting papers should be distributed at least 10 working days in advance of the meeting date. The meeting agenda and papers will be circulated in advance of meetings to departmental champions who are responsible for ensuring their constituent representative is fully briefed on their department’s views.

The committee will disseminate information on its activities to the GSS community after each meeting, with additional communications as appropriate. Communication will be via cascade to committee members and departmental champions who are responsible for organising dissemination in their departments.

The composition of the steering groups and task and finish groups should reflect the diversity of views across the GSS and be focussed on the timely delivery of well-defined products.


All committee members are expected to attend the committee in person (or send a temporary, empowered representative if they cannot). The committee membership is made up of: the chair, two steering group leads, constituency representatives, the secretariat, the GSS professional support representative, GSS learning and development and recruitment representatives, Assistant Statistician and Statistical Officer representatives and a human resources expert. All members are expected to work collaboratively and play an active role in delivering the GSS People Plan.

Departments that are not are not directly represented on the committee should have a departmental champion as the key point of contact, who will engage with the committee’s work through their constituency representative and promote it in their department. Details of these roles are set out in the roles and responsibilities section.

Personal viewpoints of members may also be considered by the committee, being clearly identified as such by the member.

Chair (usually a statistical HoP)


  • To manage and conclude committee discussions at formal meetings and in correspondence.
  • To provide overall leadership to the committee and direct its work in line with strategic considerations and the views of the National Statistician and statistical HoPs.
  • To work with the GSS professional support representative on the strategic direction and work programme of the GSS People Plan
  • To report to the statistical HoPs on People Committee activities and report back to the People Committee on relevant discussions and decisions by statistical HoPs on people matters.

Constituency representatives


  • To seek and represent the views of their own and constituent departments at committee meetings.
  • To disseminate information from the committee and seek feedback
  • To actively participate in committee discussions, steering groups and task and finish groups as required.

Departmental champions


  • To ensure that papers are circulated to relevant parties within their department in good time to receive feedback.
  • To maintain a close relationship with their statistical HoP, keeping them up to date with the work of the committee and supporting the embedding of new people policies.
  • To work closely with constituent representative to ensure that departmental issues are understood and appropriately fed back.
  • To actively participate in steering groups and task and finish groups when required.

Committee secretariat


  • To oversee organisation of committee meetings and report on progress with actions.
  • To assist the chair as required in preparing draft agendas, commissioning papers and actions.
  • To write and disseminate minutes and ad hoc communications from the committee to the GSS community.

Chair, steering group leads and committee secretariat team

Joint responsibilities

  • To forward-plan meetings.
  • To advise and guide steering groups, task and finish groups and others carrying out work programme actions.
  • To ensure alignment of the committee work programme with the wider Analysis Function agenda and civil service direction.
  • To ensure that appropriate consideration is given to the members of the GSS community who are not in  the Government Statistician Group (i.e. not badged government statisticians or data scientists).

GSS professional support representative


  • To ensure papers are fit-for-purpose and are aligned to the committee’s terms of reference.
  • To link the statistics profession with Cabinet Office and Civil Service Human Resources strategic direction.
  • To be responsible for the GSS People Strategy and work plan.
  • To be responsible for the career and skills frameworks.

GSS representatives


  • To provide professional advice and support on recruitment and learning and development issues.
  • To provide a link to the Analysis Function strategic direction.
  • To feed into the committee with updates on their respective areas.
  • To make recommendations on actions via papers to the committee or through their steering groups where appropriate

Head of GSS (ONS Knowledge, learning and capability team)


  • To advise the committee on how its work can best support overall GSS strategy.
  • To be accountable for the GSS People Plan.

Assistant Statistician and Statistical Officer representatives (Executive Officer to Senior Executive Officer grade)


  • To ensure the committee can fully understand perspectives of Assistant Officer and Statistical Officer grades by articulating and synthesising where possible, a range of perspectives from this constituency.
  • To work with established communities of Assistant Officer and Statistical Officer staff within the GSS to keep them informed about and engaged in committee issues.

Human resources expert


  • To provide a link to the Civil Service People Board and advise the committee on professional Human Resources issues, including legal and Cabinet Office perspectives.

Department acronym Department Name Role Constituency
CO Cabinet Office Esther Pilditch HR Representative Cabinet Office
BEIS Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy Olivia Christophersen Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, Office for Manpower Economics, Deparment for International Trade
DfE Department for Education Catherine Bywaters Department for Education, Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted), Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual), Office for Students
Defra Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Louise Rawlings Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Food Standards Agency, Health and Safety Executive
FCDO Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Paula McLeod Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Scottish Government, NHS-Information Services Division (in Scotland), National Records Scotland
DfT Department for Transport Gemma Brand Department for Transport, Home Office, Office for Rail and Road
DWP Department for Work and Pensions Katie Dodd Department of Work and Pensions, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Fast Stream Fast Stream Kate Shires Assistant Statisticians representative Fast Stream
HMRC Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs Maeve McMahon Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, Valuation Office Agency
MoJ Ministry of Justice David Blunt Chair
MoD Ministry of Defence Paula Fredersdorff Ministry of Defence, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
MHCLG Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government Valerie Viloria Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Her Majesty's Treasury, Bank of England
DHSC Department of Health and Social Care John Bates Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England, NHS England
NHS National Health Service Gary Childs and Chris Dew NHS Digital
ONS Office for National Statistics Jay Lindop Office for National Statistics, United Kingdom Statistics Authority
GSS Careers Team Government Statistical Service Careers Team Cathy Lovegrove Government Statistical Service (GSS) careers representative
GSS Careers Team Government Statistical Service Careers Team Beck Keane GSS careers
GSS Recruitment Team Government Statistical Service Recruitment Team Paul Cudmore GSS recruitment representative
GSS Capability Team Government Statistical Service Capability Team Jessie Evans GSS Capability Team representative
GSS Capability Team Government Statistical Service Capability Team Sharron Ford GSS Capability Team representative National Statistician perspective
GSS Analytical Learning Government Statistical Service Analytical Learning Skevi Pericleous and Alison Watkins-Shanahan GSS Analytical Learning representative
WG Welsh Government Rebecca Gillard Welsh Government, Welsh Revenue Authority, Nisra (note: Nisra is not formally part of the GSS but the GSS works closely with Nisra to ensure, as far as possible, the coherence and compatibility of statistical activities)
CO FS Cabinet Office Fast Stream Ian Fogg

Please note: the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development will become the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) from 1 September 2020. The department that FCDO will sit under from a constituency perspective is under discussion.