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National statistician Len Cook and the chancellor of the exchequer ...
National statistician Len Cook and the chancellor of the exchequer

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.'

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