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IMPROVED OUTPUT MEASURES FOR PUBLIC SERVICES

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The Office for National Statistics today publishes two articles...
The Office for National Statistics today publishes two articles

describing improvements to the methodology used to measure

output of public services. These improvements stem from work

resulting from the Atkinson Review.

The National Statistician, Len Cook, has already noted that where

proposed improvements essentially represented incremental

changes to the existing methodology, they would be submitted to

the usual rigorous ONS quality assurance procedures. Those that

passed these procedures would be incorporated into this year's

Blue Book. He undertook to give advance notice, describing these

changes and their effects, well in advance of the Blue Book itself.

These articles meet that commitment.

The first article 'Improvements in the methodology for measuring

government output'

[http:www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/article.asp?id=1144] sets out these

changes. They affect Health, Education, Personal Social Services,

Administration of Social Security and Public Order and Safety - Fire

Services.

There are significant changes to the measurement of output of

Adult Personal Social Services. Accordingly, the second article

'Improvements to the National Accounts measure of output of adult

social services'

[http:www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/article.asp?id=1145] sets out the

methodological changes and their effects, for this item, in more

detail.

The improvements include:

-- Health: More comprehensive data including an increase in

the number of treatment categories covered for England,

from 1,732 to 1,929; and inclusion of data from Northern

Ireland.

-- Education: Pupil attendance replacing pupil registration, as

a better measure.

-- Personal Social Services: Includes a wider and more

detailed coverage of output activities for adults.

-- Administration of Social Security: The old measure

represented less than 50 per cent of spending. The new

measure covers over 90 per cent.

-- Public Order and Safety - Fire Services: More detailed data

on the most serious fires.

Len Cook, the National Statistician, said: “I am glad to be able to

announce these improvements. They represent significant steps in

the ongoing programme to improve measurement of public sector

output and productivity.'

The changes described in these articles are being applied to the

UK National Accounts annual growth for the years 1996 onwards.

The associated revisions will be incorporated in the Quarterly

National Accounts, published on 30 June 2005, consistent with the

Blue Book 2005 (the full Blue Book data and text will be published

on 22 July 2005). Today’s articles deal only with revisions arising

from work stimulated by the Atkinson Review, and should not be

taken to be an estimate of the total revisions for the public sector

that will be included in Blue Book 2005.

Overall, revisions described in the articles do not affect the annual

estimates of GDP growth, rounded to one decimal place.

Background Notes

1. In December 2003, the National Statistician, Len Cook, commissioned an

independent review of the measurement of government output and productivity

from by Sir Tony Atkinson. Sir Tony produced an interim report on 19 July 2004

and his final report on 31 January 2005. This put forward an overall framework for

improving measurement in this area and 54 detailed recommendations. The

National Statistician has given a broad welcome to Sir Tony's proposals.

2. Sir Tony's review stimulated a number of workstreams, both during the review

itself and subsequently. The changes reported in this article stem from this work.

They do not include changes to data for government provided services which will

be in the Blue Book as a result of other ongoing work within ONS.

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