Statistics Chief Pledges to Renew Public Trust in Figures

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Byline: By Aled Blake Western Mail

The man charged with bringing back credibility to government statistics says he can rebuild public trust in the figures. Sir Michael Scholar, born and raised in Merthyr Tydfil, will head up the new Statistics Board at the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Sir Michael has been appointed chairman of the new board to ensure independence in state statistics. His appointment has been rubber-stamped by Parliament and he will officially begin work on April 1 next year.

Public trust in official statistics has fallen with the perception that governments have used them for their own political advantage.

Sir Michael will spend three out of five days a week in Newport and will be able to use the home he keeps near Abergavenny.

He said, "There has been a real reduction in public trust in official government statistics in recent times.

"This board is completely independent of government, we are not going to report to Ministers, we will report directly to Parliament. That new arrangement will help restore confidence in statistics."

A new code of practice will be drawn up with a head of assessment appointed to survey all official statistics being published.

Sir Michael said, "If anything is found to be amiss with a particular phrase or the way in which the statistics are being handled, a report will be made to Parliament and Parliament will then have to back my board in seeking to get the necessary changes.

"My first task is to recruit board members. Some of them are laid down in the Act and are executive people already working in the ONS, but the majority will be independent outsiders. …