Aside from the United Kingdom Statistics Authority and its various components (Office for National Statistics, and the Office for Statistics Regulation) and the Government Statistical Service, there are several other non-governmental bodies concerned with our statistics, as described below.
The purpose of this note is to explain the difference between Better Statistics CIC and those other bodies.
Firstly, we emphasise that the primary purpose of BSC is, as its name implies, to campaign for better statistics, whether produced by private organisations or by public bodies. By ‘Better Statistics’ we mean more trustworthy, used by more people, of good quality and readily accessible.
To achieve that aim we consider it necessary to promote public awareness of, and interest in, the production of accurate and relevant statistics and we believe we can contribute to that end by taking on the role of:
- Helping to educate people as to the value of reliable statistics, via discussion, debate and engagement
- Encouraging people to participate in appropriate surveys, which of itself can improve the potential reliability of the data.
- Challenging poorly prepared or presented published statistics.
In addition we propose to undertake such independent studies as may serve the enterprise to achieve the following aims:
- to identify quality issues such as sample or definitional gaps in published data
- to monitor public engagement and understanding
- to promote/demonstrate the value of alternative approaches to sampling and data collection
- to identify trends which indicate how statistics will need to evolve to meet future needs
It is this final aspect that we believe is unique to BSC, primarily because the founder members all believe that their experience in the commercial market research sector provides them with a different perspective from statisticians within the government service. We therefore believe that Better Statistics is the only organisation that, in addition to evaluating current data and statistics, conducts its own research and contributes to an improved environment where data are not just reliable, but also intelligible and accessible. Through that means we propose to help to raise the stature of UK statistics to a new trusted and respected level.
Meanwhile we understand that the main purpose of each of the other bodies are:
- Full Fact provides an invaluable fact checking function – see fullfact.org
- Centre for Public Data is concerned to ensure that policy is driven by relevant data and that future government legislation is accompanied by a commitment to measure the effectiveness of the new law – see centreforpublicdata.org
- Royal Statistical Society is the prestigious body concerned with all aspects of statistical theory and practice – see rss.org.uk
In addition to these organisations there is the Britain in Numbers blog provided by Simon Briscoe, offering an occasional article on a matter of public interest. As shown above Simon is also a member of the Business Reference Group for Better Statistics.
Finally, there is also the Stats User Network (SUN) as operated by the Office for National Statistics which is open to anyone with an interest in official statistics to join. There are special interest groups within SUN for individual policy areas such as Health Statistics, and SUN also supports the Statistics User Forum which meets 3 or 4 times a year to discuss issues of particular interest.
Note: BSC is not affiliated to Liberal Party or any other political party.