Statistics aren't just numbers. Statistics have the potential to improve people's lives. The numbers we produce from real-life data help to shape the important debates in today's society and economy. They provide the key evidence on which government policies and a multitude of everyday decisions are based.
'For statistics to be used effectively in the public interest, so that policy formulation and decision making are informed by evidence for the good of society' - RSS strategy review 2014-18.
So one of our major areas of work is to ensure that good quality statistics are produced and that they are interpreted well so they can be understood and used for the public benefit.
To do this, we engage with a wide range of decision makers to make sure good quality data and sound evidence inform the right decisions. For example, as we approach a UK general election in 2015, we’ve published a Data Manifesto which sets out ten recommendations for government to strengthen data and statistics for better policymaking, greater democracy and increased prosperity.
Our policy work focuses on a number of specific areas to influence change.
We work with key partners to improve the position of statistics and data handling in the education system. For example, compared to other countries the UK has very few students taking any form of mathematics after the age of 16. Yet knowing how to use data is key to understanding the world and making informed decisions and choices.
Our education work aims to build strong statistics teaching and learning across the curriculum and for all age groups.
Not enough people understand and appreciate the value of statistics. Statistical literacy is weak at all levels. MPs, public decision-makers and the media often struggle with basic statistical concepts. But every citizen should have the basic skills to interpret data and numbers to make the right choices in life, from interpreting health risks to making important financial decisions.
Find out how we are helping society to be more statistically literate, so that people’s understanding of data, risk and probability can inform their decision-making, leading to better outcomes.
A lot of the key statistics we use to inform important decisions are produced by the official statistics system. A lot of work - and public funding - goes into producing the key numbers we need to make the country work. It's a complex system, and although the quality of the work is high, there's always scope to improve and to help explain the important numbers.
We all need to be prepared for the effects of new technology which enables new uses of data. We support the open data agenda yet advocate the need for privacy and for the public to benefit, directly or indirectly, if their personal data is shared.
Statistics applies across a wide range of academic disciplines so statistical competence in this arena is vital. Our policy work seeks to influence higher education policy which touches statistics, with the goal of driving innovation in academic research and the development of statistics as a science.