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The decision to move the Office for National Statistics' (ONS) operations out of London has been criticised in a report by former Bank of England deputy governor Sir Charlie Bean.

The statistics agency, which provides official economic data for the UK, was moved to Newport in South Wales in 2007. But around 90% of its staff decided to leave the organisation, rather than relocate.

Over the past decade the ONS' output has declined, according to an interim report led by Sir Charlie Bean.

"It is the judgement of this review that the loss of statistical expertise which resulted from the relocation decision has had a significant - though not necessarily permanent - detrimental effect on the capability of ONS and the quality of its outputs over the past decade," the report reads.

Sir Charlie believes that more staff should have been retained in London to maintain and increase engagements with its core users. However, the report does not call for the decision to be reversed and for operations to be brought back to London. It explains that that would again lead to a mass loss of staff. Instead, the ONS plans to boost the capacity of its Newport base.

ONS director general for economic statistics, Jonathan Athow, said: "ONS plans to develop the long-term capacity of the Newport office, working with others in the region to create a hub for data professionals, building on its role as the home of economic statistics.

"ONS will also strengthen its London presence to increase its analytical capability and engagement with key users."

Full government access

The report also called on the ONS to be given full access to government data. The body currently has some access to government figures, but relies on surveys to formulate its own findings. In 2014, it sent out 1.5 million surveys, accounting for roughly a quarter of its resources. The report suggests that full access to government data would allow the ONS to give much more accurate and reliable estimates of economic growth.

Sir Charlie said: "It's nonsensical that different bits of the government don't speak to each other, so that businesses and households have to provide the same information twice.

"Unlocking the data hoard already held by the public sector will not only save businesses money, but also produce more timely and accurate statistics."

A spokesperson for the Cabinet Office said: "The government agrees with the comments of the Bean review that better use of data is essential for modern government.

"We're looking at all options for how to improve data sharing, including through legislation."