I’ve commented more than once about the DWP’s use of stats, so it may be of interest to note a letter from the Chair of the UK Statistics Authority to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, occasioned by the previous statistics on Welfare to Work. Andrew Dilnot, UKSA Chair, writes:
we suggest that your Department’s approach to the publication of ad hoc statistical releases should be reviewed to ensure that all statistics which are likely to be regarded by Parliament as ‘official statistics’ are released in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. We do appreciate that this is an area of uncertainty for both government departments and ourselves. The formal position is that Ministers decide whether statistical material should be treated as official statistics, not the Statistics Authority. However, the Authority has a statutory responsibility to advise Parliament on any concerns we have about the comprehensiveness of official statistics. I would be happy for Authority officials to work with DWP statisticians in finding a way forward that is mutually supportable.
I’ve also put a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Communities and Local Government to ask whether the decision of the Department not to publish statistics on Troubled Families before they were referred to and acted on has been reported as a breach of the Code of Practice.