Last summer’s riots and the re-definition of fuel poverty are the topics covered by the winners of this year’s RSS Statistical Excellence in Official Statistics award.
Two winners were recognised in the 2012 awards: one was the Ministry of Justice’s Analytical Services, for its statistical work following the public disorder of August 2011. The other was the Fuel Poverty Statistics team at the Department of Energy and Climate Change for its analytical work to support the Hills Review of Fuel Poverty.
The judges were impressed by the responsiveness of the public disorder statistics, which published estimates of initial court hearings for suspects involved in recent disturbances as soon as two days after the riots ceased. One judge praised the statistics’ relevance to both government and the media, saying: ‘The published outputs clearly added value and understanding among the full range of users of the information, providing the information needed by government to manage the crisis, while providing other interested parties with information to dispel myths.’
Another judge commented that the data stood out, ‘because of its political and social importance; its technical originality; its responsiveness to matters of public concern; and its all-round professional competence’.
The analytical work supporting the Hills Review of Fuel Poverty was nominated as it was key in demonstrating the flaws in the current official fuel poverty definition. It also helped develop the evidence base that was a key factor in ensuring that many of the recommendations of the Review were readily accepted.
One judge described the analysis as ‘a gold standard example of rigorous, clearly presented analysis and taut argument towards a conclusion that policy makers may choose to ignore, but cannot then turn around and say this problem has not been thoroughly scoped’. Another described the statistical modelling as ‘ingenious’.
The RSS Statistical Excellence in Official Statistics award, given jointly by the Royal Statistical Society and UK Statistics Authority, recognises excellence in the field of official statistics and the role it plays in policy making and informing the wider community. As well as excellent presentation of official statistics, it also looks for innovative statistical practices which have improved statistical information for users. The awards will be presented on 4 September at the RSS Conference.