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U.K. to Delay Publishing Some Economic Data Amid Revisions

The U.K.’s Office for National Statistics will delay the release of some economic data as it undertakes the biggest reassessment of the national accounts since 1995.

Second-quarter gross-domestic-product data to be published Oct. 5 will exclude some detail in areas such as net lending, the statistics office said at a briefing in London today. Most of the suite of publications known as the “Blue Book” will be released on Nov. 23 instead of the initially planned Nov. 1.

The Bank of England, U.K. Treasury and Office for Budget Responsibility were advised of the need for a delay on Sept. 7 as officials restate data back to 1997, ONS Chief Economist Joe Grice said. The change will deprive the central bank of some data it would expect to have in its November forecasting round.

“The amount of work in some areas was enormous,” Grice said. “The feedback was that any delay was not helpful, but they were also clear that the priority was for well-considered figures rather than figures that would be rushed.”

The Bank of England will publish new economic and inflation forecasts on Nov. 16. The GDP data next week will include details on output, expenditure and income, and exclude “sector accounts” tables. Asked about the delay, Grice said it was not due to budget constraints or staff shortages.

Publication of economic accounts and balance of payments scheduled for Oct. 5 will be delayed to Oct. 25. The environmental chapters in the 2011 Blue Book will be available as normal on Nov. 1, as will some of the supply-use tables, with the rest available on Nov. 23.

While the ONS normally revises some data, it’s using this year’s Blue Book to bring its statistics in line with European Union regulations. Officials declined to say what impact the changes would have on next week’s GDP report.

The changes include switching the deflator to the Consumer Price Index from the Retail Price Index, and reclassifying some industries, such as publishing, to reflect the shift in the economy toward services from manufacturing. More detail will be provided on activities such as accountancy and legal services, and there will be better data on derivatives.

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