DD2136 ONS London Statistical Support
The GLA has a memorandum of understanding with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to supply statistical support for London. In part, the statistical support takes the form of three ONS staff with specialist knowledge to work with the GLA. The arrangement seeks to improve the evidence base for economic policy making in London and was taken on by the GLA following the folding of the London Development Agency (LDA) into GLA.
That the Executive Director is asked to approve:
- Expenditure of up to £140,000 to pay for London Statistical Support from the Office for National Statistics in 2017/18
Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice
1.1 The GLA has a memorandum of understanding with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) around supplying statistical support for London, billed at an annual rate of £140,000.
1.2 In part, the statistical support takes the form of three ONS staff with specialist knowledge working with the GLA. The arrangement seeks to improve the evidence base for economic policy making in London.
1.3 The arrangement was taken on by the GLA following devolution and the functions of the London Development Agency (LDA) being taken on by the GLA.
2.1 The ONS London Statistical Support is governed by a MOU between the GLA and ONS. A 6-monthly meeting is held between senior officials at ONS and the GLA to monitor the relationship. Alongside this, quarterly performance meetings are held between ONS and GLA staff to review progress against objectives (set on an annual basis) and to align work streams effectively going forward.
2.2 The overarching objective of the ONS London Statistical Support is to support the economic evidence base for London. The exact year-to-year objectives vary depending on the needs in any particular year. In 2014 for instance, the ONS London Statistical Support provided significant support in the delivery of the London Living Wage calculation, Low Pay in London (GLA Economics report and Assembly Committee paper) and the development of a GLA agreed definition for science and technology sectors (for the LEP) for example. In the year ahead the main objective for the team is the successful delivery of the Economics Evidence Base to support development of the next London Plan, Transport Strategy and Economic Development Strategy. Again alongside this the team will be required to provide ad-hoc, as well as planned, analysis and advice on a range of issues (including London Living Wage, general statistical support to the Examination in Public and development of the GLAs employment projections).
3.1 Whilst there are no direct equality impacts the analysis conducted by the ONS London Statistical Support team highlights equality issues in London.
a. Links to strategies and Mayoral and corporate priorities
4.1 ONS London Statistical Support aids delivery of the objectives of the Mayor’s Economic Development Strategy and various other strategies. For instance, data provided by the ONS London Statistical Support team is crucial to the delivery of the GLA’s employment projections which are integral to the London Plan and are also used in the Transport Strategy and Economic Development Strategy. Access to data provided by the ONS London team also provides added value in many other policy areas (for instance IDBR data has been used in the development of the GLA’s policy on Enterprise Zones).
b. Impact assessments and Consultation
4.2 None required.
4.3 Without the ONS London Statistical Support the GLA would not have access to the specialised knowledge and data required for many areas of work. This would result in additional costs (to access the required data and specialised knowledge) and, arguably, lower quality/less robust results, jeopardising the quality and robustness of the Mayor’s strategies/policies.
5.1 The estimated cost of £140,000 will be funded from the ONS budget held within the Intelligence Unit’s Budget for 2017-18.
6.1 Section 34 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 allows the Authority, acting by the Mayor, to do anything which is calculated to facilitate, or is conducive or incidental to, the exercise of any functions of the Authority exercisable by the Mayor. In this case, the secondment of ONS staff to GLA may reasonably be seen as being calculated to facilitate and conducive and incidental to the GLA performing its’ various functions. In particular, the secondment should provide GLA with better statistical support that will assist in policy making by the Mayor under his section 30 power, that is for the promotion of economic development, social development and environmental improvement in Greater London.
6.2 The legal team has previously advised that the arrangement between ONS and the GLA (particularly when the ONS staffs were based at City Hall – not the case now) is a classic secondment arrangement which should properly be formalised by the way of a tri-party Secondment Agreement. The Memorandum of Understanding is not legally binding on the parties and would not preclude the ONS employees from attempting to bring an employment tribunal claim against the GLA. The GLA has considered this risk and concluded that the risk of any claim is low and therefore the GLA intends to continue with the arrangement as it currently stands accepting any risk.
Delivery Start Date
Delivery End Date [for project proposals]
- Appendix A - Memorandum of understanding between the GLA and ONS.
- Appendix B – DD1249 2014/15 Approval for expenditure