Vision for coherence of income and earnings statistics

It is our mission to provide high quality statistics, data and insights on income and earnings in the UK.

We will use a range of new and existing data sources to meet the needs of our users. This is increasingly important in a rapidly changing political and societal context, where we know our users need better evidence to support decision-making at both national and local levels.

To support this mission, we have created a vision based around the four core principles of the Government Statistical Service (GSS) Strategy; Statistics for the public good.

Increased use of administrative data will help transform income and earnings statistics.

We will take an ‘admin data first’ approach to improve the coherence of our outputs and reduce duplication and burden in data collection. This includes the integration of admin data with survey data. This approach will additionally allow us to make improvements to sample weighting and estimation.

The granularity, timeliness and frequency of our statistics will be enhanced.

This will help ensure that we have comprehensive and accurate figures at the appropriate geographical level for our users. Our statistics will provide a better understanding of the changing labour market (e.g. zero-hour workers, the self-employed and company owner-managers). We will look to develop our systems and processes to minimise the time taken to get from data collection to the production of statistics and review our data collection approach to improve the frequency of our statistics.

We will expand the coverage of our statistics and enable better comparisons across groups.

This includes looking at ways to capture underrepresented and marginalised groups, such as those not living in private households. We will make more meaningful comparisons across groups with different needs and be better able to assess regional and local disparities between parts of the population.

We will demonstrate leadership to improve the coherence of our income and earnings statistics.

We will review the user need for a single data source on household income. Coming together and producing coherent statistics will allow our users to better understand the income and earnings landscape and provide a robust evidence base to support policy making.

We will work with users to understand the need for themed analysis using data from different sources.

These will address important policy questions and issues of public interest.

We will align our statistics to recognised international standards and guidelines, where possible.

Alignment with international standards will facilitate comparison between countries. We will document where we diverge from these standards, e.g. due to meeting UK user needs.

Where multiple measures of statistics are produced, we will be clear why this is so.

For some statistics, there remains a need to produce multiple measures as different measures will be produced to meet different analytical needs and policy purposes. We will provide clear explanation of the concepts used and methods employed, and analysis of how and why these measures differ.

We will create new user driven tools to help navigate and understand the statistical landscape.

Following best practice in other statistical topic areas, we will develop a new accessible web-based tool which will allow users to easily search and compare the full range of GSS income and earnings statistics from one platform.

Users will be able to easily identify the right statistics for their purposes.

We will continue to develop clear and consistent signposting to our statistics. This will include providing guidance on how statistics are compiled, the reasons why sources differ, their strengths and limitations, and information on which sources are best suited for different purposes.

We will engage with the development of the Integrated Data Platform for government.

We will support the inclusion of income and earning statistics in the Integrated Data Programme for government, and we will seek to exploit this new source of linked data to enable us to perform new analysis.

Timely access will be provided to microdata.

Microdata will be provided in a timely manner and provide appropriate variables to facilitate comparisons between sources.

We will provide more data on inequalities.

We will explore how we can provide more breakdowns by demographic characteristics, e.g. gender and ethnicity. Our statistics will contribute to the levelling up agenda.

We will be user driven. 

Users, stakeholders and policy makers underpin this vision. We will actively engage with users through participation in regular formal and informal engagements and actively seek user views through existing feedback mechanisms and informal user engagement surveys. We will look to widen our user base and improve our understanding of how our statistics are being used across policy and service provision. We will improve the relevance and impact of our statistics.

We will work collaboratively across the GSS.

A GSS Income and Earnings Coherence Steering Group will set the strategic direction and provide the leadership needed to improve the coherence of official income and earning statistics, including agreeing high level priorities and any resources needed for increased collaboration.

A transparent approach will ensure that users are kept up to date with improvements and developments.

We will create a GSS Income and Earnings Coherence Work Plan setting out how we are working together to make improvements and how we will achieve this vision.

We will continue to update and develop our work plan to meet user needs as they change and evolve.

To help understand the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic we have already developed more timely and relevant income and earnings data. We will regularly update our work plan to ensure that our work continues to meet our users’ needs.