Interim national statistician appointed after recruitment effort proves unsuccessful

A permanent replacement for outgoing stats chief to be announced in "late summer", UKSA says

Photo: PA

The UK Statistics Authority has appointed deputy national statistician Jonathan Athow to stand in as national statistician while it continues its so far fruitless search to replace John Pullinger.

Athow will replace Pullinger when the outgoing national statistician – who is also chief executive of UKSA – when he retires at the end of this month.

The authority failed to find anyone to fill the £160,000-a-year role, in a recruitment round that closed in January.


Athow, who is also director general for economic statistics, joined the department in 2015 from HM Revenue and Customs, where he was departmental chief economist and director of the tax agency's knowledge, analysis and intelligence directorate. There he oversaw the managed the department’s research programme, provided tax forecasts to the Office for Budget Responsibility and analysis to support the policy partnership between HMRC and the Treasury.

Previously he spent 14 years at the Treasury, where he worked on a range of economic and policy issues including tax policy reforms and changes to the tax and benefit system.

UKSA has not yet opened a second round of recruitment, but said in its announcement that a permanent replacement for Pullinger would be made “late in the summer”.

The job advert published when Pullinger announced his retirement in November said the next person in the role would be expected to “build on the momentum and progress made in recent years, to provide richer insights about the UK’s changing economy and society, and to complete the transformation of the bodies responsible” for identifying new methods and sources of data to respond to policy questions.

The national statistician is “one of the nation’s pre-eminent experts and advocates for the use of evidence in public life”, the job advert said.

UKSA has yet to announce who will stand in for Athow when he takes up the interim position.

The announcement comes days after UKSA announced that another of its three deputy statisticians, Heather Savory, was to step down to join the United Nations Working Group on Big Data for Official Statistics this month.

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