The admission of material errors in the immigration statistics by the UK’s Office for National Statistics is just the latest in a catalogue of serious miscalculations by the body. These errors do not just lead to bad marks in a GCSE maths paper. They are fundamental matters affecting decision-making by government and in the case of the huge and recurring errors in the RPI index calculations (admitted by the ONS) are costing the taxpayer billions per annum in increased bond interest, index linked benefits and rail fares.
The ONS seems to be unfit for purpose and it’s time for a fundamental review of its methodologies, skills and capabilities. Michael Forsyth’s comments to this effect earlier this year as chairman of the Lords economic affairs committee seem to have fallen on deaf ears. It’s time for the press and public to get behind this so far relatively unpublicised incompetence and push for change. An extra billion pounds a year would go a long way in the NHS or education system!
Spayne Lindsay & Co,
London WC2, UK
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