Select Committee on Treasury Eleventh Report


Counting a highly mobile population

We consider the problems faced by some Local Authorities in estimating their highly mobile populations. We note that there were substantial problems in generating accurate population estimates in some areas during the 2001 Census. We also consider the methods used to estimate local populations between each census and conclude that such estimates (mid-year population estimates) are not fit for purpose as they fail to properly account for internal migration. We raise concerns that the allocation of funding to Local Authorities could be based on inadequate information. We recommend that the new Statistics Authority establish as an immediate priority the provision of local population statistics that more accurately reflect the full range of information available about local populations and the effects of internal migration.

Short-term migration and the International Passenger Survey

We discuss the usefulness of the mid-year population estimates, based on the 'usually resident' population. We highlight that such estimates do not include short-term migrants. and do not fully meet the needs of Local Authorities and commercial users. We call on the Statistics Authority to investigate the feasibility of producing population estimates based on different measures of population, such as estimates which include short-term migrants and estimates which include the day-time population of Local Authorities. We raise concern about use of the International Passenger Survey in estimating international migration. We conclude that the Survey is not fit for this new purpose and recommend that the Statistics Authority replace the International Passenger Survey with a new Survey that is more comprehensive and more suited to the accurate measurement of international movements affecting the size of the resident population of the United Kingdom.

Administrative data

We note that the development of computerised administrative records in the UK has moved on rapidly in recent years and the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 has established conditions under which such information could be used for statistical purposes. We recommend that the Government work with the Statistics Authority to ensure that strong ethical safeguards are put in place to protect the personal information held by Government departments. We also call on the Statistics Authority to set out the action that the Authority will take to develop the Government's administrative databases to provide a more accurate and cost effective method of monitoring the population.

National address register

We note that the accuracy of the 2011 Census is dependent on the production of a national address register. We raise concern that no progress has been made to develop such a register. We recommend that the Government consult the Statistics Authority and others to remove any outstanding obstacles to the production of a national address register.

The future of the Census

We assess the current challenges facing the Statistics Authority in conducting the 2011 Census and conclude that the traditional census has almost had its day. We recommend that the Statistics Authority set strategic objectives to ensure that the data currently gathered throughout the UK can be used to produce annual population statistics that are of a quality that will enable the 2011 Census to be the last census in the UK where the population is counted through the collection of census forms.

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