The UKSA scraps government pre-release access to official statistics

15 June 2017 | Full Fact Team

The National Statistician John Pullinger announced on June 15, 2017 that the Office for National Statistics will stop giving the government 24-hour pre-release access to statistics. 

This means that, from now on, when the ONS releases official statistics the government will only see them for the first time when the rest of us do.

Full Fact has campaigned for years for the cancellation of pre-release access to official statistics. We have given evidence to the House of Commons Public Administration select committee on the communication and publication of statistics and discussed the possibility of scrapping government pre-release access to official data.

Mr Pullinger’s decision today follows an incident in 2016 when an unauthorised person was allowed by the Department for Work and Pensions to see new jobs statistics published under pre-release access. The person then published details of the figures to 300 people on “a social network” used by DWP staff.

The National Statistician is the head of the UK Statistics Authority, the independent statutory body with the objective of promoting and safeguarding the production and publication of official statistics that "serve the public good".

Full Fact’s Director Will Moy says: "Full Fact strongly welcomes the decision to cancel pre-release access to ONS data. We all pay for these statistics so they belong to us all. It’s the right decision to make them equally available to everyone at the same time.

"Pre-release access to official statistics must now end across government. Full Fact calls on other publishers of official statistics, including all government departments, to follow the example of the ONS and end all pre-release access to their data."

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