UK GDP figures to be published monthly

Move will help policymakers and businesses, says ONS

H.M. Treasury will benefit from monthly GDP figures
(Image credit: Chris Ratcliffe - Pool/Getty Images)

The UK is to become one of first major world economies to publish economic growth figures on a month basis.

From tomorrow, the Office for National Statistics will produce monthly GDP estimates and a range of other statistical indicators for the health of the British economy.

Gross domestic product (GDP) is used by government and business to assess the general economic well being of the country and has traditionally been calculated quarterly with around a month's delay.

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As well as being more update to date, the new model will use a significantly higher data content, which should improve the picture for policymakers, says the ONS.

Writing in a blog on the ONS website, James Scruton, the head of GDP data at the statistics body, said: “While this might seem like a small change, monthly GDP will mean higher-quality and quicker estimates of our changing economy, ensuring policymakers have the important information they need to take vital decisions.”

The Guardian says “matters concerning the economy have become increasingly significant in recent decades – not least since the financial crisis and as Britain leaves the EU – making better-quality and more-timely official data more important”.

However, there are some drawbacks to the new system, says Garry Young, the director of macroeconomic modelling and forecasting at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

“A downside of the new monthly data is that it will be volatile, subject to revision and may sometimes give a misleading steer,” he told the Guardian. “That means that policymakers and other users will need to make sure they do not overreact to the latest data, unless it is confirmed by a range of other evidence.”

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