The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.
Letter from Stephen Penneck:
As the Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking pursuant to the Answer of 2 February 2010, Official Report, column 310W, on Census: training, what the provisional number of specialist field staff is who will be trained to caution people under the Police and Criminal Evidence Code of Practice for Interview provisions. (318303)
The provisional number of specialist field staff who will be trained to caution people under the Police and Criminal Evidence Code of Practice for Interview provisions is 60, although this number is currently under review.
The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the Authority to reply.
Letter from Stephen Penneck, dated February 2010:
As the Director General for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking pursuant to the answer of 27 January 2010, Official Report, column 796, on the 2011 Census, whether the evidential basis for the statement that the value of the census is £700 million will be placed in the Library; and by what methodology such evidence was gathered. (318329)
The quantified benefit of the census is currently estimated to be £750 million. However, this is considered to be a very significant under-estimate. A full business case for the 2011 Census has been produced and scrutinised by HM Treasury and the Office of Government Commerce. It is due to be published this Spring and will be available on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) website. The business case clearly demonstrates the unique value of the census, and that the benefits of having the information far outweigh the costs of its collection and processing and formed the basis for the Minister's statement.
ONS provided further information on this point to the Lord's Committee on the Merits of Statutory Instruments in October 2009 when the Committee examined the Draft Census (England and Wales) Order 2009, which was included in their 29th Report of Session 2008-2009 (Appendix 1) published on 5 November 2009. The relevant sections of this stated that:
A wide range of users rely heavily on census results for a countless range of purposes. The six broad purposes for which they use census data are:
policy making and monitoring;
academic and market research; and
as a benchmark for other National Statistics.
Extensive work has been undertaken to quantify the benefits of the census in financial terms. For example, if census data were not available, the £82 billion allocated each year by the Department of Health to each Primary Care Trust (PCT), would be based on data using existing information available within the NHS. Detailed analysis has shown that using such lower quality data sources would result in over £800 million being misallocated per year, with some individual PCTs gaining, or losing, to the tune of millions of pounds. Clearly, the net cost to HM Treasury of such misallocation would be zero, but the costs to society would be significant, resulting in significant discrepancies in the services available in different areas. Clearly, attributing a financial value to this cost to society is very difficult, but using standard economic methods that work on the premise that “a pound in your pocket is worth more if you're poor than if you're rich,” a cost to society of £600 million over the decade has been estimated. Adding in similar quantified benefits for funding allocations to local authorities from the Department for Communities and Local Government, and private sector benefits (assessed through improved decision making about the location of retail stores and the use of census data by market researchers) the quantified benefits of the census amount to over £750 million over the decade between censuses.
Furthermore these quantified benefits relate to only three of the six types of use of census data. When considering that over 500 organisations responded to the census topics consultation, that there are a further three very significant key uses of census data and that the Online Neighbourhood Statistics Service (just one route of access to census data) has over 100,000 hits per month, the unquantified benefits will be very substantial.
The quantified discounted benefit of circa £750 million is therefore considered to be a very significant under-estimate.