have announced further progress in minimising business compliance
costs, following the release for public consultation of the draft
National Statistics Protocol on Managing Respondent Load.
The ONS modernisation programme, which has been given strong impetus
by Spending Review 2002, is enabling the national statistician to
take further steps to minimise business compliance costs. The
modernisation is giving scope for the rationalisation of some
surveys, allowing the wider use of administrative data, particularly
tax records, rather than direct surveys and for reductions in data
collection costs through wider use of new technology, particularly
telephone and interactive internet data entry.
To strengthen firms' input into this process and to ensure the most
efficient use of data, the national statistician is establishing a
regular Small Business Forum. One of the forum's first tasks will be
to assess the scope for setting a limit on the statistical survey
load for all businesses with fewer than 20 employees. It will also
examine the extent to which a 'one-stop shop' for firms' statistical
enquiries might assist small businesses. Businesses with fewer than
10 employees that have contributed to a survey have a three year
'holiday' from further statistical surveys. Commenting on the
announcement, Len Cook, the national statistician, said:
'I take the issue of the compliance cost on businesses very seriously
and the ONS has worked hard in recent years to minimise this load.
Nevertheless, I recognise that there is always more that could be
done and I am excited about the opportunities afforded by the ONS's
modernisation programme, the opportunity for a richer dialogue with
small businesses and the wider use of new technology.'