Here is a little light reading for New Years Day. I once read a book by Van Packard about statistics which was light into the darkness of that topic for me. I receive newsletters from the ONS and the information below was included in such a newsletter recently. It also gives a light into the darkness of how the numbers that we all hear are put together. Hope you can keep on going until the end of the piece which I have summarised and edited. It is information which is worth knowing. All the best for 2015.
The Office of National Statistics is responsible for the production of the UK National Accounts and Public Sector Finance statistics and hence for applying and interpreting the guidance to the UK situation.They are compiled according to internationally agreed definitions and standards, and in accordance with guidance issued by Eurostat (the statistical body of the European Union).

The economy is composed of a large number of ‘institutional units’ such as businesses, government bodies, universities, hospitals, charities, and households; and these individual units are classified into groups according to their characteristics for analytical purposes. One of the main classifications systems puts units into ‘institutional sectors’ according to the different economic incentives they face. For example, businesses exist to make profits while some other units do not such as government bodies, charities, and households.
Each such unit engages in financial transactions, paying out and receiving money for reasons such as buying and selling goods and services, paying taxes, or collecting tax revenues.
In the majority of cases the classification of units and transactions is straightforward, but in some cases detailed investigation is required to ensure the economic reality is reflected in the statistics. The ONS National Accounts Classifications Committee (NACC) exists to consider such cases and recommend the appropriate statistical treatment. A published formal process is followed to agree the most appropriate classification of each unit and transaction. Decisions are authorised by the Chair of the NACC, or by the Director of National Accounts and Economic Statistics, depending on the nature of the decision and size of the impact on the government debt or current deficit. (for more information on ONS website from which the above text is quoted from.
Decisions regarding the following criteria are made.,
•whether a body is in the private or public sector,
•for public sector bodies, whether they are government bodies or public corporations
•whether certain transactions count as taxes or service fees

Classifications are very important in regard to public expenditure, revenues, borrowing, debt, and tax burden. This applies both domestically, and within the European Union where statistics based on the ‘European System of Accounts’ (ESA) are used in:

“•the Maastricht Treaty ‘Excessive Deficit Procedure’ measures, particularly for estimates of government debt and deficit, where they determine the ‘convergence criteria’ for potential entrants to the monetary union, and performance against the Growth and Stability Pact for Eurozone members”
also
“•the measurement of Gross National Income (GNI), one of the main determinants of member states’ contributions to the European Union’s budget.”

It is a legal requirement for European Union countries to compile specified statistical returns on the basis of the ESA. From September 2014 onward, statistics are now compiled in accordance with the 2010 ESA (which replaced the 1995 ESA).
Since 1997, the UK fiscal policy frameworks have also been based on the National Accounts; fiscal policy objectives are described in terms of National Accounts aggregates and as a result key fiscal targets are dependent on National Accounts definitions and classifications.

There is high demand for classification assessments and at any one time ONS is progressing a number of active cases. ONS often has to respond to external developments – including developments in government policy.
The published classification process allows Government Departments to seek classification advice on policy proposals during their development. As a result, a considerable volume of ad-hoc requests for advice on policy proposals and other issues are also received. These are not included in any published workplan unless details of the proposal are already in the public domain.

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Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .

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There was a comic once whose Strap Line was “Let me tell you a story” I always thought it was a good opening. So lets do that…….
Did you know that the House of Lords is to debate the topic of the Lisbon Treaty (2009) which gave national parliaments a formal role in the scrutiny of EU legislation, if a chamber issues a reasoned opinion it considering that a proposal breaches the principle of subsidiarity (that means EU-level action may be taken only if the objective cannot be achieved at national or local level),
A ‘Yellow Card’ occurs if over one third of national chambers or parliaments issue reasoned opinions. Technical deficiencies have meant that the
procedure has not been as effective as hoped. These deficiencies could, and should, be corrected. (So not only in football can one get a Yellow Card-wonder about a Red Card?)
The House of Lords is debating this and other topics on the EU Extension on 26th June. There is a great attachment on the topic you might like to download on the Parliament website (71 pages). Some ideas which are being considered whereby this principle of “subsidiarity” can be improved are- extending the scope of the procedure to include the proportionality principle—that is, that the proposal should not exceed what is necessary to achieve the objectives of the EU Treaties; increasing the deadline for national chambers to issue a reasoned opinion on a legislative proposal, from 8 weeks to 12 or 16 weeks and for the Council and Commission, if a Yellow Card is
issued-action on same will be more proactive.(information from the Parliament website and the and Parliament Publication-The future of the EU 2014)

Everyone seems to be in the role of a customer when once the public services provided advice and guidance regarding need and resources. Now if you don’t know the questions to ask, ask a friend. It all encourages localism and networking, that’s the way to be informed. Its all connected really. Was “who wants to be a Millionaire” really a bit of stage managed propaganda, to get we all thinking in a certain way?
News from the National Audit Office in regard to the Child Maintenance 2012 scheme.The Department tackled early weaknesses and made decisions about timing and phasing to reduce risk. The NAO has warned that the scheme’s overall objectives might be at risk if the number of people intending to use family-based arrangements does not improve.

“The 2012 scheme replaces the existing 1993 and 2003 child support statutory schemes, which struggled with IT problems leading to poor customer service and incomplete information a. The two-phase 2012 scheme has been designed by the DWP to encourage parents to make their own arrangements for child maintenance. Phase 1 brought in a new IT system and simplified rules for applicants. Phase 2, expected to start in June 2014, will introduce charging to encourage parents to make family-based arrangements. The Options Service provides guidance to parents on different ways to arrange child maintenance. It is now mandatory to go to the Options Service if parents want to make an application for child maintenance.
The Department has simplified the way it administers child maintenance by reducing the number of its procedures and automating checks on parents’ income. It is also introducing online portals to allow employers and parents to manage payments online.” quoted from the ONS website.

So everyone needs to be online-where all this information is so available. But then have you the time to get to it and then read it. But then pity those individuals who cannot get online-for a lot of reasons-economic and social, they might be disenfranchised in 25 years time?
Do the nationals of the world want they have and the have not’s-its like those who can read and whose who cannot. Education is the thing-isn’t it?

“Public Accounts Committee publishes its 50th report examining the roll-out of the rural broadband programme. ”
Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, comments on
report and the £1.2 billion rural broadband programme on the Parliament website. The scheme is designed to help get broadband to areas, mainly rural, where commercial broadband infrastructure providers currently have no plans to invest.
There is also a comment about Royal Mail…….
“The share price closed up by 38% on its first day of trading which could have netted the taxpayer an additional £750 million…..”(quoted from the Parliament website)•
The Office of National Statistics indicated that “on an output per hour basis, UK labour productivity increased by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2013 to a level that was 0.7% higher than a year before.
The ups and downs of reports provide interesting reading and food for thought more than the five aday perhaps.

Here is an example of the information on the website of the Office of National Statistics, just thought might be interesting. so much information on that website one does not know where to start. Like the website of Parliament. But these are the places to see what is happening. You can take a virtual tour of the House of Commons too. I have been around it in person three times.
“In February 2014, public sector net borrowing excluding temporary effects of financial interventions was £9.3 billion. In February 2013 PSNB ex was £9.2 billion. (excluding the £2.7 billion asset purchase facility transfer that month). This includes a £2.3 billion transfer from the sale of 4G spectrum licenses but excludes the £2.7 billion asset purchase facility transfer for that month.
Monthly net borrowing is usually volatile in January and February caused by the timing of income tax receipts. Looking at January and February together provides a more complete picture of income tax.
•In February 2014, no cash transfers were made from the Bank of England Asset Purchase Facility Fund to HM Treasury.”

Culture, Media and Sport Committee is to hold an evidence session on the work of the Arts Council (England) on Tuesday 25 March at 10.30am The Culture, Media and Sport Committee are having an inquiry into the work of Arts Council England. The first evidence session will consider the scope,how it makes its funding decisions. Evidence will be taken from a former Chair of the Arts Council and the three authors of a recent report, “Rebalancing our Cultural Capital”. The latter looked at the geographical distribution of funding for the arts. For all authors artists all over the country.