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The GSS strategy – a vision for the UK’s statistical system

Shaping our future for the next five years

In 2020, our current strategy (Better Statistics, Better Decisions (pdf, 1MB)) will come to an end. A new consultation has been launched to inform the strategy that will replace it.

This consultation is called “Look to the future – shaping our strategy for the next five years”.  It aims to gather views from across the GSS on our future direction.

Since the statistical system launched its Better Statistics, Better Decisions strategy in 2015, we’ve responded nimbly across statistics production and regulation to changing demands for data and we’ve taken enormous steps in improving the UK’s evidence base.

We’ve transformed our economic data, secured new powers of access to innovative data sources, and have taken crucial steps to transform the nation’s population statistics. All the while the Office for Statistics Regulation have improved the way numbers are scrutinised – redefining what a trustworthy, valuable and high-quality statistical system looks like today.

More widely, this year’s GSS awards were a great opportunity to celebrate the innovation occurring across the community. We’ve promoted the use of automated tools to prepare statistical outputs across the GSS, collaborated to develop innovative methods to improve comparability of national level road safety figures, produced new analysis on the impact of automation on occupations and built new insights into the experience of disabled people who travel by rail – using that data to drive changes in rail policy and delivery.

There is much for us to be proud of. But there is also much more we might do.

With others using fake news and misinformation, the UK’s statistical system can be the go-to source for reliable and objective information. Citizens, businesses, and colleagues across government should know – whatever question they have in mind – that they can find trustworthy information, at the click of a button.

The Office for Statistics Regulation’s role in standing up for statistics is also more important than ever. Statistics and analysis should be used to explain and improve the lives of all of those around us – whether by driving forward improvements in the health services we use, supporting measures to protect our environment, or even in helping to make sure that our trains and buses show up on time!

Working inclusively and collaboratively across the statistical system and with our partners beyond, this is all possible. And more! Together, if we are ambitious, we can ensure that our work is at the heart of policy making. Because among the uncertainty, we are uniquely placed to expand the reliable and impartial statistics and analysis available to decision-makers across the UK.

A changing environment

As we consider our ambitions for the next five years, it’s important to think about how things might change over that period.

We do not yet know how local and national priorities will evolve over the coming years. What we do know is that the demand for information will continue to rise, at the national, local and individual level. The statistical system will need to be able to respond flexibly to changes in the external environment while remaining independent and objective.

If our work is to truly improve lives across the UK, we need to remain alert to the ways in which our society is changing and ensure that the data and statistics we produce are inclusive. We need to be alert to new threats to public confidence in statistics and need to be willing to act to maintain this confidence.

The data revolution shows no signs of stopping. Over the next five years, yet more data will become available and the statistical system will need to consider how we best make use of these new sources, alongside traditional survey data.

With more data available to citizens, policy-makers and businesses than ever before, we will need to step-up the role we play as producers and regulator in helping people distinguish the good data from the bad – whether that be in conversations with those we interview, or in our public pronouncements about the use of data.

None of these tasks can be achieved by us alone. As we draw in data from organisations across the UK, and attempt to answer new complex questions, we will need to work ever more closely with other actors, both inside and outside of government. Too many silos remain in the statistical system, whether within Office for National Statistics (ONS) itself, between ONS and the GSS, or between the GSS and members of other analytical communities.  We must have the confidence, and the relationships, to step-up and provide analysis and advice to the best of our collective abilities.

Of course, as we do all this we want to be a brilliant and inclusive employer. Our ambitions for a more relevant, trusted and valued analytical service will require us to work inclusively across, and beyond, our community. To do this, we must deliver the technology, learning and development options, and career pathways that enable us all to realise the potential of the data revolution.

We really do want to hear your views on the strategic priorities for the statistical system and your place within that system. The survey we have launched aims to gather your views on our future direction. Please see the privacy notice for more information about how we will protect your data.

Sir Ian Diamond, National Statistician, and Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation

Privacy Notice

Data protection legislation

The General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 together determine how, when and why any organisation can process personal data. Personal data is any information that can identify a living individual. These laws exist to ensure that your data is managed safely and used responsibly. They also provide you with certain rights in respect of your data and create a responsibility on us, as a user of personal data, to provide you with certain information. If you have any queries about how your personal data is used, please contact

The purposes for which your personal data is being collected

The UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) is an independent body at arm’s length from government. We have a statutory objective of promoting and safeguarding the production and publication of official statistics that ‘serve the public good’. Data will be collected for the purpose of developing and evaluating a new strategy for the UK’s statistical system. Any personal data we collect within this consultation will only be used for the purposes of informing our work to set the future direction of the UK’s statistical system. It is not our intention to collect any identifiable data from participants and we will not take steps to identify people from any data given to us during this consultation.

The legal basis for the processing

Data protection legislation requires that all processing of personal data is undertaken under one or more of a set list of conditions. Unless stated otherwise all UKSA processing is undertaken under the following condition:

“Processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller.”

The UKSA is a statutory body, meaning we were created by legislation, specifically the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007, with the objective of promoting and safeguarding the production and publication of official statistics that serve the public good. All our collection and use of data comes from powers that can be found in that Act or other UK legislation. We are not collecting and special personal data, such as information about your racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs, trade union membership, or sexual orientation.

The period for which personal data will be stored

Data protection law requires that personal data is kept for no longer than is necessary to fulfil the purposes for which it was originally collected. Your personal data will only be held for so long as it is required by us to carry out our role as a statistical authority in developing a new Authority strategy. We will treat all the data we hold with respect, keeping it secure and confidential. We do not intend to share your personal data with any third parties, and only those involved in the development of the next UKSA strategy will have access to the data collected.

Data subject rights

As a data subject you have rights available to you under data protection law. If you wish to exercise any of these rights then please contact our Data Protection Officer. Compliance requirements are set out in the Data Protection Act 2018.

You have the right to request from any controller that holds your personal data: access to the information they hold about you and to amend any wrong or inaccurate information they hold about you. You have the right to object to your personal data being processed.

You have the right, in some circumstances, to request for any controller to: erase any personal data they may hold about you, stop processing your personal data, or pass any information they hold about you to another controller.

Further information on the rights available to you and the circumstances under which you can exercise them, is available from the Information Commissioner.

Contact details

The data controller for your personal data is the Office for National Statistics.

The contact details for the data controller are:

Office for National Statistics
Government Buildings
Cardiff Road
NP10 8XG

Telephone: +44 (0) 1633 456633

The contact details for the ONS Data Protection Officer (DPO) are:

Office for National Statistics
Government Buildings
Cardiff Road
NewportNP10 8XG



If you consider that your personal data has been misused or mishandled, you may make a complaint to the Information Commissioner, who is an independent regulator. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane

Telephone: 0303 123 1113