The progress of devolution has led to the Scottish Government assuming more direct control over economic policymaking in Scotland and recognition has grown that Scotland’s economy is in many ways distinct from the economies of other parts of the UK. Modern economies as a whole have grown more complex and more interconnected and ever more data driven.
Data has become an increasingly valuable resource and it is one which demands more attention, more scrutiny and more investment. Scotland therefore would greatly benefit from the creation of a single, dedicated Scottish Statistics Agency.
This consultation response to the Scottish Parliament’s Economic Data Committee outlines the case for such an agency and the key principles that it should be built upon.
― International examples of data provision have shown that there are benefits to both a highly centralised model for a statistics agency but also benefits to a decentralised model whereby various departments gather deep but very specific data. Which model best suits Scotland is therefore open to discussion.
― Across Scotland, the quality of data provision is decidedly mixed. Often, the data can only be obtained via subsets of UK data which can mean that data sample sizes become smaller than may be appropriate for rigorous policy-making.
― However in other areas, particularly areas directly initiated by Scottish statisticians, the detail of data can exceed that which is found elsewhere in the UK.
― In many cases, the increased costs of data provision will be offset either directly via better tax collection (especially in the case of customs and borders) or indirectly by more efficient allocation of resources.
― There is scope for measuring metrics outwith “traditional” metrics such as GDP. Examples like measuring equality and life satisfaction could help drive development of a Wellbeing Economy.