Business, political, charity and not for profit decision makers need more and better data in a world that is becoming less reliable, more technologically fast paced and policy volatile. Consumers, voters, stakeholders are no longer comfortable with slow or poor leadership operating on bad, old or suspect evidence.

In this age of immediate feedback, reputational death by social media or shifting loyalties, being first with the decision armed with strong evidence is the best defense against being sidelined or ignored.

A few years ago, before the Brexit decision had really taken centre stage, Britain’s financial and economic leaders were faced with some uncomfortable truths from a well respected and resourced inquiry:

“We need to be candid about the limitations of UK economic statistics. The UK was one of the original pioneers of national accounting. We need to take economic statistics back to the future or we risk missing out an important part of the modern economy from official figures …. the digital revolution and fast technological advancements of recent years, have changed the way many businesses operate (Amazon, Skype), given rise to new ways of exchanging and providing services (Airbnb, TaskRabbit), have muddied the waters between work and leisure, and made it far harder to accurately measure economic output. Many businesses also operate across national boundaries and depend on intangible assets, which adds to the complication of accurate measurement … if the digital economy was fully captured by official statistics, it could add between one-third and two-thirds of a percent to the growth rate of the UK economy [in 2016].”

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Possibly the strongest evidence for that assertion is the manner in which the Office for Budgetary Responsibility has consistently under-estimated tax returns and over-estimated future government borrowing requirements.

Primarily, we attribute the source of error in current methods to be a failure to record the economic contribution of the so-called gig economy, which is predominantly internet driven/enabled and thus able to develop faster than start-up businesses were ever able to in the past. The result is that the reliance on traditional measurement methods yields results that are missing more and more of the growing economy.

Because there is currently no reliable source of business data covering the whole UK business community in a consistent and reliable manner, we propose to develop an independent Business Monitor which:

  • is statistically reliable and timely
  • represents all non-VAT registered businesses as well those registered for VAT
  • minimises response bias through a combination of telephone and online data collection
  • asks questions of more direct relevance to the modern internet enabled small business and part time entrepreneur
  • estimates genuine economic value, not just sentiment
  • makes extensive use of reliable public data (e.g. companies house data)
  • uses advanced data collection and analytic techniques to yield more timely data

Such an independent monitor will enable us to re-calibrate UK business statistics and improve economic forecasting, making it fit for the modern business world.

A primary longer term objective will be to monitor the so-called GIG-GEL FACTOR being the ratio of the rate of growth of the gig economy to the rate of growth of the traditional ‘real’ economy.

The resultant Key Performance Indicator for the regions will be an index comparing their Gig-gel factor to the National Average; thus a figure in excess of 100 will indicate a relatively larger gig economy for that region.

In time this KPI can be extended to smaller areas than regions. Indeed if any town or city has an interest in understanding their Gig-gel factor then we can arrange a special ‘boost’ sample for that area to provide the necessary estimate.

By becoming a foundation partner your corporation, business, government or third sector organisation can achieve access to first class, tested and reliable data on the UK economy that will benefit your interests and allow you to position yourself within a premium place in the marketplace of ideas, decisions, products and services. UKPLC is issuing its call this Summer/Autumn for partners willing to be part of this venture that will serve their interests in this Brexit/No Brexit period of transition.

UKPLC is comprised of a team of recognised professionals in the field of research, statistics, economic data collation and socio/political analysis: Phyllis Macfarlane (Chair of the UK Market Research Society), Tony Dent (Sample Answers Ltd) and Iain Mackay (X-MR Limited).

Contact Tony Dent on [email protected] to discuss how your organisation can benefit from this ground breaking initiative.

Understanding the economy and society that has emerged from a decade of unprecedented technological, political and financial turmoil is a must for you and your competitors.

Be involved at ground zero and reap the value of evidence and analysis before your competitors seize the opportunity.

One fifth of the ‘new century’ has now passed without any effective measurement of the economic effects of the digital world. Whilst technology giants such as Apple, Google and Facebook increasingly influence our lives, even changing the way we handle our money,  measurement of the new world is obscured by adherence to the statistics of the last century. Please head over to our Blog Zone, which provides thoughtful commentary on various issues raised by this situation.