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Seòmar agus comataidhean

Public Audit Committee

The 2020/21 audit of National Records of Scotland: Follow up information request

Letter from the Convener to Registrar General for Scotland and Accountable Officer, National Records of Scotland, 9 February 2022.


Dear Paul and Linda

The 2020/21 audit of National Records of Scotland

Thank you for providing evidence to the Public Audit Committee at its meeting of 20 January 2022.

A link to the Official Report of the meeting can be found here.

At the meeting you agreed to provide the Committee with a range of information to help inform the Committee’s scrutiny of the 2020/21 audit of National Records of Scotland which I outline as follows—

• a copy of the detailed options appraisal report that was used to support the decision to postpone the census (Official Report, Col. 4).
• further details around the security of the data that is submitted by individuals in response to the census (Official Report, Col. 21).

Financial impact of the delay to the census

You also undertook to provide the Committee with further details of the census programme’s increased costs of £21.6 million (Official Report, Col.14). In particular, the Committee would like to know—

• what goods or services were provided in respect of the additional £14.4 million supplier costs? and
• What action NRS took to mitigate against increased supplier costs?

The Committee also asks you to provide the following information—

• What work was undertaken by NRS to assess the additional costs that would have been incurred had the census proceeded in 2021?
• What action is being taken to manage down additional financial pressures and reach a financial balance during 2021/22?

Impact of delaying the census

During the evidence session we explored the impact the delay to the census may have on the delivery of public services in Scotland, and on the allocation of funding to councils. The Committee remains concerned that the decision to delay the census has left Scotland ‘out of sync’ with the rest of the United Kingdom.

The Committee therefore asks that you provide a response to the following questions—

• What are the potential implications of Scotland’s census being out of sync with the other UK censuses?
• How will these implications be addressed?

Access to administrative data

During the evidence session, you confirmed to the Committee that, in respect of the 2022 census, you have been in discussions with Scottish organisations to use elements of their administrative data for quality assurance purposes.

The Committee would like to know who these organisations are, and the extent to which your discussions have proved successful.

I would be grateful if you would provide a response to this letter by 9 March 2022.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Leonard MSP