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GSS > About us > Committees and groups > Statistical Policy and Standards Committee

Statistical Policy and Standards Committee

The Statistical Policy and Standards Committee (SPSC) assists the National Statistician in promoting and safeguarding the quality of official statistics. SPSC develops and promotes statistical policy and drives improvement in statistical methodologies, standards and classifications.

SPSC meets quarterly and has three main responsibilities:

  • advising on legal obligations which affect statistics
  • developing and putting into action statistical policies and standards
  • improving the quality of statistics

The chair of this committee is David Fry (statistical Head of Profession at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy).

The committee reports to the National Statistics Executive Group (NSEG) providing biannual updates to agree objectives and priorities for statistical policies and standards.

SPSC has three sub-committees and one sub-group:

These are expected to agree their annual work programme with SPSC and provide reports to it.

Diagram showing the reporting structure. The Business Registers Group, Presentation and Dissemination Committee, Regional and Geography Committee and Methodology Advisory Committee all report to the Statistical Policy and Standards Committee which in turn reports to the National Statistics Executive Group.

Last revision: October 2016

Last review: Autumn 2018

Purpose and accountability

The purpose of the Statistical Policy and Standards Committee (SPSC) is to promote and safeguard the quality of official statistics. It does this through the development and promotion of statistical policy and through driving continuous improvement in methodologies, standards, and classifications.

The SPSC is accountable to the National Statistics Executive Group (NSEG).

The terms of reference

Strategic

  • To provide advice to NSEG in respect of legal obligations relating to the development, maintenance and monitoring of statistical policies and standards whether domestic or international.
  • To oversee the development and promotion, and monitor the implementation and application, of statistical policies and standards relating to official statistics.
  • To drive forward continuous improvement in the quality of official statistics, overseeing prioritisation, and monitoring implementation, of areas for methodological development.
  • To monitor and support implementation of:
    • the Code of Practice for Statistics
    • other national and international standards and best practice
    • National Statistician’s guidance
    • innovation in methodology and its application across official statistics
  • To consider the need for policies and guidance that are required to assist the Government Statistical Service (GSS) in complying with the Code of Practice for Statistics including those arising from the UK Statistics Authority Assessment Programme.
  • To ensure that where policies and standards apply across the GSS they are developed to reflect the needs across the four countries and publicised or communicated to reflect the agreed geographical applications.

Operational

  • To provide NSEG with a regular progress report and to ensure that statistical policies and standards relating to official statistics are presented to it for ratification.
  • To address any ad hoc issues remitted to it by the National Statistician arising from discussions with the UK Statistics Authority.
  • To liaise with, and support the work of, the Inter Administration and People Committees.
  • To oversee the governance of its own sub-committees and sub-groups.
  • To provide strategic direction to, and hold to account, the activities of the sub-committees and sub-groups that report to this committee and any taskforces convened to address specific issues on a strictly time-limited basis.

Legal Context

The Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 states that the UK Statistics Authority (the Authority) has the following objective:

To promote and safeguard:

  • the quality of official statistics
  • good practice in relation to official statistics
  • the comprehensiveness of official statistics (section 7(3))

The Authority has general functions including:

  • to monitor the production and publication of official statistics (section 8(1))
  • develop and maintain definitions, methodologies, classifications and standards for official statistics (section 9(1))
  • promote their use in relation to official statistics (section 9(1))

Furthermore, the National Statistician is the Authority’s principal adviser on:

  • the quality of official statistics
  • good practice in relation to official statistics
  • the comprehensiveness of official statistics (section 30(1))

Membership

Chair:

David Fry, statistical Head of Profession, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Members:

  • Representative from the methodology area of the Office for National Statistics (ONS)
  • Representative from the Best Practice and Impact division in ONS
  • Representative for the ONS statistical output areas
  • Representative for the UK devolved administrations
  • A quality champion
  • Five statistical Heads of Profession or senior statisticians on a rotational basis.

Secretariat:

Central Policy Secretariat

Frequency of meetings

Normally four times a year, otherwise as necessary

Governance

The following sub-committees report to the SPSC:

  • Presentation and Dissemination Committee
  • Methodology Advisory Committee
  • Regional and Geography Committee

The following sub-groups report to the SPSC:

  • Business Register Group

Minutes are sent to

  • Committee members
  • NSEG
  • Sub-groups and sub-committees
  • The statistical Heads of Profession
  • The authors of any papers discussed

PDF version

Terms of reference (pdf, 137KB)

Contact

Central Policy Secretariat

Email: secretariat@statistics.gov.uk