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Cameron warned over GDP slip as watchdog urges review

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26/10/2012
The UK Statistics Authority has called for a review into the early release of sensitive economic data after Prime Minister David Cameron appeared to let slip details of Q3 GDP ahead of time.
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.

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