Cameron warned over GDP slip as watchdog urges review
Senior government ministers had access to the information that the UK economy had expanded by 1% in Q3 on Wednesday morning, 24 hours ahead of official publication.
Cameron subsequently told the House of Commons Wednesday afternoon there was “good news” on the way for the UK economy.
In a letter to the PM sent yesterday, UK Statistics Authority chair Andrew Dilnot reminded Cameron that recipients of pre-release statistics “must not disclose any suggestion of the size or direction of any trend.”
“It is our view that the current pre-release access arrangements undermine public confidence in official statistics and the professional independence of statisticians,” he said in the letter.
“Since responsibility for determining the pre-release rules continues to rest with government, we would urge you to undertake a review of these arrangements and I would be happy to meet your senior officials to help in taking this forward.”
Chancellor George Osborne said yesterday that the 1% GDP rise, which brought the UK out of recession after three consecutive quarters of negative growth, was “another sign the economy is healing”.
The Q3 figure included a 0.2 percentage point boost from Olympics ticket sales, according to the Office for National Statistics.
A further 0.5 percentage points are estimated to have been added through a reversal of the Jubilee effect – lost output relating to extra public holidays in Q2.