Holyrood committee inquiry: ‘Are our economic statistics working?’

12.06.2017

The reliability of economic statistics used by the Scottish Government, media and others is set to come under the microscope, as a Holyrood Committee urges businesses and economists to share their views and concerns.

The call comes as the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee commences its call for evidence into the ‘accuracy, utility and comprehensibility’ of Scottish economic statistics; and considers what data is required for ‘effective delivery and scrutiny of policy’.

Convener of the Committee, Gordon Lindhurst MSP commented:

“The right data, gathered and interpreted in the right way can be fundamental to policy decisions that help shape the Scottish economy.

“The Committee wants to hear the views of those who produce statistics, those who interpret them and the people who use them. What works well, and what could be done better? Crucially, we want to hear from places that are putting the right data to effective use for the economy. What could be learned from their experience?

Mr Lindhurst continued:

“Key questions for the committee are: What could be done by Scottish Government and others to improve the quality of data, and how would this be funded? How are economic statistics used by local, regional and national policy-makers to deliver and scrutinise policy? And finally, are there barriers preventing the Scottish or UK Governments from making our statistics truly helpful and understandable?”

The Committee’s call for evidence closes on Friday 1 September 2017. On completion of its scrutiny, the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee will share its findings with the Scottish Government.

Background

The Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee scrutinises a broad range of topics within the remit of the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work including energy policy, the impact of the UK vote to leave the EU, fair work and matters relating to the Scottish economy. It comes to a view after taking evidence from, and engaging with, a wide range of stakeholders ‘on the frontline’ and applies authoritive, expert, effective and influential scrutiny to policy.

Photographs of the Committee and Convener are available free of charge.

Call for Evidence

The Committee has issued a general call for views on Monday 12 June, the topic of this inquiry being economic data.

The remit of the inquiry is—

To examine the accuracy, utility and comprehensibility of Scottish economic statistics; to consider what data is required for effective delivery and scrutiny of policy; and to recommend where any improvements might be made.

We are seeking to address the following specific themes—

  • Accuracy (how reliable is the data)
  • Utility (how useful is it)
  • Interpretation (how to make sense of it)
  • Scrutiny (what are we measuring and does it encourage effective scrutiny)

The Committee particularly wants to look at what works well, what could be done better and what we can learn from other places. The inquiry will look at the mechanisms behind the data, hearing from those who produce the statistics, those who interpret them and the end users.

We are keen to hear responses to the following questions:

Accuracy

  • How reliable is the economic data currently available at the Scottish level?
  • What are the areas of strength and of weakness of provision within Scotland and at UK level?
  • What could be done by Scottish Government and/or others to improve the quality of data? How would this be funded?
  • Do you have any views on how data is collected, specifically the role of businesses and households in providing economic data?

Utility

  • How are economic statistics used by local, regional and national policy-makers to deliver and scrutinise policy?
  • Where are the gaps in provision?
  • Can you identify examples of international good practice and case studies?
  • Are there barriers preventing the Scottish or UK Governments from improving statistical provision?

Interpretation

  • What are the key issues in making sense of the data?
  • What are the barriers to better understanding and how might they be overcome?

Scrutiny

  • What are we measuring and what should we be measuring?
  • What data is necessary for effective parliamentary scrutiny by the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee (our remit also covering energy)?
  • Are the current National Performance Framework indicators the best way of measuring innovation, internationalisation, investment and inclusive growth in the Scottish economy?

How to submit written evidence

Before making a submission, please read our policy on treatment of written evidence. In line with that policy, submissions will normally be published on our website.

Written submissions should be reasonably brief and typewritten in Word format (preferably no more than 4-6 sides of A4 in total).

The deadline for receipt of written submissions is Friday 1 September 2017.

Owing to the timescales normally required for the processing and analysis of evidence, late submissions will only be accepted with the advance agreement of the clerk.

The Committee prefers to receive submissions electronically. These should be sent to: economyjobsandfairwork@parliament.scot

Hard copies may be directed to:

Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee
Room T2.60
Scottish Parliament
Holyrood
Edinburgh
EH99 1SP