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The Mayor of London The London Assembly

Exploiting The Potential Of Data: How Changes To The Statistics Code Of Practice Can Help Achieve This

This week saw publication of a Stocktake Review of the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

The recommendations from this report are a big step forward in helping us to implement the Mayor’s manifesto commitment to comply voluntarily with the Code as part of his pledge to run the most transparent Mayoralty. As well as the development of a process so we can do this, further recommendations address some of the barriers for statutory bodies such as ourselves which had previously led us to develop our own Code of Practice. These recommendations include:

  • recognising the wider range of statistical and data outputs that contribute to policy-making rather than just those that meet the narrow definition of ‘official statistics’
  • replacing the current rather rule-based approach to compliance with one based more on outcomes and principles of statistical quality.
  • the recommendation that the Code should stimulate innovation and creativity in the exploitation of data and technology – in line with the aim of our City Data Strategy to have the most dynamic and productive City Data Market in the world.

City Hall already has a reputation for producing transparent and high quality statistics driving accountability, engagement, good decision making and service improvement across London. We publish a large range of data and statistical outputs on our London Datastore. We look forward to helping the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) implement these recommendations in a way that enables city authorities such as ourselves to further build on our valued outputs to address future challenges.

At the heart of this, data are increasingly critical to addressing such social and economic challenges affecting cities like London. Sir Charles Bean’s ‘Independent Review of UK Economic Statistics’ earlier this year pointed to the potential of both data held by central government and other data-rich organisations to provide the immediate and rich intelligence needed to the make the most effective decisions possible.

We have previously expressed our concern that the provision in the Digital Economy Bill to allow researchers to access a wider range of government data does not go far enough for public sector analysts. We need an agile and flexible response to data access to address further devolution of economic and social policies to London, such as the affordable housing settlement and the adult education budget announced in the recent Autumn Statement. Our discussions with the OSR and the Government Statistical Service have provided some reassurance that they recognise that successful devolution can only be achieved with further data-sharing. Complying with the same Code as government statisticians will further strengthen our case for essential data access.

City Hall welcomes this publication as a positive step forward in helping to achieve the Mayor’s commitment. We look forward to working with the OSR to make sure these recommendations are implemented in a way to enable City Hall to be the first organisation to sign up voluntarily to the new Code. We will then work with our wider GLA Group bodies to do the same.