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Statistical bulletin: Output in the Construction Industry, December and Q4 2013 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 14 February 2014 Download PDF

Key Points

  • The seasonally adjusted estimate of construction output in Q4 2013 is estimated to have risen by 0.2% when compared with Q3 2013. During this period there was an increase in the volume of construction new work of 0.7% but a decrease in the output of repair & maintenance of 0.5%.
  • The monthly output of construction in December 2013 is estimated to be 2.0% higher when compared with November 2013. The pattern seen in the quarterly data is repeated in the monthly data, with new work showing growth (3.4%) alongside a slight fall in the output of repair & maintenance (0.2%).
  • When comparing the 2013 annual data with 2012, the output of the construction industry is estimated to have risen by 1.3% (£1.49 billion). During these 12 months new work increased 2.4% (£1.62 billion) although there was a slight decrease in repair & maintenance of 0.3% (£0.14 billion).
  • The estimated annual volume of construction output in 2013 of £112.6 billion is 3.9% greater than the level recorded during the economic downturn in 2009. However, construction output remains 12.2% below its peak of £128.2 billion recorded in 2007.
  • Despite a slow beginning to the year where construction output fell 1.0% in Q1, output grew steadily throughout the year and has produced three consecutive quarters of growth for the first time since Q3 2010.
  • When comparing the like for like components of the public and private sectors over 2013 there is a marked difference between the two sectors. During 2013 construction output of the three aggregates (new housing, other new work and housing repair and maintenance) show that public spending on construction has fallen year on year by 4.0% (£0.9 billion) while private spending has increased 3.4% (£1.85 billion).
  • The 1.3% annual growth in construction output is almost solely contained within the new housing sector which has increased 10.4% (£2.1 billion) year on year with a small growth contribution from non-housing repair & maintenance of 0.7%. These increases were in contrast to the decrease in other new work of 0.9% (£0.45 billion) and housing repair & maintenance which fell 1.3% (£0.57 billion).
  • The Preliminary Estimate of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) published on 28 January 2014 contained a forecast for quarterly construction output of minus 0.3%. This estimate has been revised within this release based on updated survey responses and is now estimated to have grown 0.2%, an upward revision of 0.5 percentage points. This upward revision has no effect on the preliminary estimate of GDP growth to 1 decimal place. Construction currently accounts for 6.3% of GDP.
  • The revision to the figure published in Q4 GDP is due to later returns across all types of work being stronger than those used in the preliminary estimate of GDP.


Construction output estimates are a short term indicator of construction output by the private sector and public corporations within Great Britain and are produced from a monthly survey of 8,000 businesses in Great Britain. The estimates are produced and published at current prices (including inflationary price effects) and at chained volume estimates (with inflationary effects removed) both seasonally adjusted and non-seasonally adjusted.

Detailed estimates along with a longer run of time series data are available to download in the Output in the Construction Industry, December 2013.

Further details on the newly published monthly seasonally adjusted series and the chained volume measures can be found in the ‘What’s new’ section of the output background notes.

The ‘Definitions and explanations’ section in the background notes of this bulletin includes additional information on items contained in this release.

Economic Context

In December 2013, construction output increased by 6.3% compared with December 2012, up from 2.0% in November 2013. This growth was supported by both new work and repairs and maintenance, with particularly strong growth in new private dwellings and new private commercial buildings. Output was higher in all the components of new work than the same month a year ago, capturing a broad pick-up in the construction sector during 2013.

Taking 2013 as a whole, construction output expanded by 1.3%: faster than during 2012 where it fell by 7.9% but slower than during 2011 (2.3%) and 2010 (8.3%). Despite this recent growth, output in the construction industry remains well below the pre-downturn peak in 2007. This is largely as a consequence of lower new work, which in 2013 was 13.4% below the pre-downturn peak, while repairs and maintenance output was 9.6% lower over the same period.

There was 2.0% increase in construction output in December, recovering some of the output lost during November. New work more than accounted for the whole of this increase, growing by 3.4% in December, while repair and maintenance work contracted slightly on the month. The monthly output series for all construction remains relatively volatile – having moved between expansion and contraction throughout 2013.

The ONS house price index also showed that there was an increase of 5.4% in UK house prices in the 12 months to November 2013, which may be a contributing factor to the recent growth of new housing construction output.

Output in the Construction Industry - December and Q4 2013


Figure 1: All work, quarterly time series, chained volume measures, non-seasonally (NSA) and seasonally (SA) adjusted Dec 2013

Figure 1: All work, quarterly time series, chained volume measures, non-seasonally (NSA) and seasonally (SA) adjusted Dec 2013
Source: Construction: Output & Employment - Office for National Statistics

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Comparing construction output in Q4 2013 with Q3 2013 (Figure 1) the estimated volume of all work increased by 0.2%, the third consecutive quarter on quarter increase and the longest run of quarter on quarter growth increases since Q3 2010.

In the disaggregated series, there was a quarter on quarter increase of 0.7% in new work predominantly due to a 5.7% increase in new housing. Within this sub-sector public housing increased 10.5% while private housing increased 4.5%. Within new work, infrastructure increased by 1.3% although there were falls in both public and private other new work .

Repair & maintenance fell by 0.5% in Q4 2013 due to a fall of 1.8% in housing repair & maintenance. Non-housing repair & maintenance increased by a modest 0.8%.  

Figure 2: All work, monthly time series, chained volume measures, non-seasonally (NSA) and seasonally (SA) adjusted

Figure 2: All work, monthly time series, chained volume measures, non-seasonally (NSA) and seasonally (SA) adjusted
Source: Construction: Output & Employment - Office for National Statistics

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All work increased by 2.0% in December 2013 when compared with November 2013 (Figure 2) due to a 3.4% (£200 million) increase in new work. Within new work there were increases in all sub-sectors, the largest increase coming from the new housing sector, which increased 4.9%. Private new housing, the largest component of new housing now stands at £1,614 million, its highest volume since the monthly series began in 2010.

Repair & maintenance fell slightly in December when compared with November, decreasing by 0.2%. A small decrease is also seen in the quarterly and annual estimates. Repair & maintenance in Q4 2013 was estimated to have fallen by 0.5% and annually by 0.3%.

When comparing December 2013 with December 2012 construction output increased 6.3% with increases in most sectors with the exception of private industrial new work and repair & maintenance of public housing. December 2013 saw the seventh consecutive month of year on year growth for construction all work.

Estimated to be £112.6 billion, the annual chained volume measure of construction output grew by a modest 1.3% in 2013 but was 3.9% higher than its economic downturn volume of £108.3 billion in 2009. Despite the increase construction output remained 12.2% below its peak of £128.2 billion recorded in 2007.

Within the sub-sectors, new work increased by 2.4%, where new housing showed a substantial increase in 2013 growing by 10.4% to £22,100 million, its highest volume since 2007. There were, however, drags on new work during 2013 when compared with 2012 with a large decrease in public spending on other new work of 8.7% (£900 million)  and a 5.5% decrease (£200 million) in private industrial new work.

Repair & maintenance showed little movement in 2013 when compared with 2012 contracting 0.3%. There was however a noticeable decrease in public housing repair & maintenance which fell 4.8% (£350 million) over the period.

Table 1 shows the components of new work and their relative increases since their lowest recorded volumes.

Table 1: Component increase from lowest volume recorded

  New Housing     Other New Work   All
  Public Private Total Infras- Excluding Infrastructure   New
        tructure Public Private Private   Work
            Industrial Commercial  
% Increase from lowest volume 36.4 50.7 47.3 13.9 4.7 5.4 13.4 10.6
Current volume 438 1,614 2,051 1,124 803 254 1,818 6,050
Lowest volume* 321 1,071 1,392 987 767 241 1,603 5,469
Date Jan 2010 Jan 2010 Jan 2010 Jun 2012 Jan 2013 Jul 2011 Sep 2012 Mar 2013
Highest volume* 450 1,614 2,051 1,363 1,240 357 2,123 6,621
Date Mar 2011 Dec 2013 Dec 2013 Dec 2011 Feb 2011 Aug 2010 Sep 2011 Jun 2011

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Monthly time series data for these components began in January 2010.

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Table 2: Construction output summary tables, chained volume measures, seasonally adjusted

  Percentage change £million
  Most recent 3 months on a year earlier  Most recent 3 months on 3 months earlier  Most recent month on the same month a year ago Most recent month on the previous month Most recent level
Total All Work     4.4 0.2 6.3 2.0 9,576
Total All New Work     5.6 0.7 7.8 3.4 6,050
Total Repair and Maintenance     2.4 -0.5 3.9 -0.2 3,526
All New Work
Total All New Work     5.6 0.7 7.8 3.4 6,050
New Housing              
  Public Corporations     22.6 10.5 19.9 4.1 438
  Private Sector     19.0 4.5 21.6 5.1 1,614
Other New Work              
Infrastructure     -1.4 1.3 1.2 2.7 1,124
Excl Infrastructure              
Public Corporations     -2.8 -3.7 4.4 2.7 803
Private Sector               
Private Sector - Industrial     -18.9 -4.9 -19.2 2.9 254
Private Sector - Commercial     5.0 -2.1 5.3 2.5 1,818
Repair and Maintenance
Total Repair and Maintenance     2.4 -0.5 3.9 -0.2 3,526
Public corporations     -6.6 0.2 -3.2 1.6 568
Private sector     4.4 -2.8 2.9 -2.5 1,112
Non-Housing     4.1 0.8 6.9 0.6 1,846

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Construction Estimates in Gross Domestic Product

Construction estimates are a key component of the output approach to measuring GDP along with the estimates of services, production and agriculture. As an aid to users, the short term releases that directly feed into GDP now include an additional table of GDP components. It is anticipated that this table will inform users of the relationship between the individual components which comprise GDP output. The publication dates and the quarterly growths of the individual GDP components are shown below.

Table 3 shows the output figures that fed into GDP for Q4 2013. Data from Q1 2013 are revised this month in accordance with the national accounts revisions policy. Revisions to construction throughout this period have no effect on GDP growth to 1 decimal point.

Each component of GDP has a weight within GDP based on its value in 2010. Construction has a weight of 63 which means that it is 63 parts of the 1,000 that make up total GDP.

To determine the effect each component has on GDP multiply the component growth by its weight in GDP.

An example using Q2 2013 data:

Construction growth  = 1.9
Weight in GDP  = 0.063 (63/1000)
Effect on GDP  = 1.9 * 0.063 = 0.1197 or 0.1 to 1 decimal place (dp).

Revisions to components and the effect on GDP can be calculated using the same process. As a general rule there are no revisions to GDP when the component revisions are:

IoP = between 0.3 and -0.3
Construction = between 0.7 and -0.7
IoS = 0.0 (all values above or below 0.0 effect GDP due to the high weight of IoS in GDP).


IoP =    0.152*0.4 = 0.0608 or 0.1 to 1 dp 
Construction =  0.063*0.8 = 0.0504 or 0.1 to 1 dp
IoS =    0.778*0.1 = 0.0778 or 0.1 to 1 dp

Table 3: GDP component tables, chained volume measure, seasonally adjusted

        Percentage Change
Publication Weight in GDP Release date Latest period Most recent quarter on a year earlier  Most recent quarter on the previous quarter   Most recent month on the same month a year ago Most recent month on the previous month
GDP 1000 28 Jan Q4 2.8 0.7 : :
Q3 2.0 0.8 : :
Q2 2.0 0.8 : :
Q1 0.8 0.5 : :
Index of Production 152 7 Feb Q4 2.3 0.5 : :
Q3 -0.3 0.5 : :
Q2 -0.7 0.7 : :
Q1 -2.4 0.5 : :
Construction output 63 14 Feb Q4 4.1 0.2 : :
Q3 5.2 2.5 : :
Q2 0.8 2.3 : :
Q1 -5.0 -0.9 : :
Index of Services 778 28 Jan Q4 2.6 0.8 : :
Q3 1.8 0.8 : :
Q2 2.0 0.6 : :
Q1 1.3 0.5 : :
Retail Sales   17 Jan Q4 3.2 0.4 : :
Q3 2.2 1.5 : :
Q2 1.4 1.0 : :
Q1 -0.2 0.2 : :
Agriculture 7 28 Jan Q4 -6.5 0.5 : :
Q3 -6.8 -3.2 : :
Q2 -3.6 1.9 : :
Q1 -7.5 -5.3 : :

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Figure 4: GDP components, chained volume measures, seasonally adjusted (SA)

Figure 4: GDP components, chained volume measures, seasonally adjusted (SA)
Source: Construction: Output & Employment - Office for National Statistics

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Figure 4 shows the quarterly path for GDP and its components from Q1 2005. While it is apparent that all the components were severely affected by the economic downturn from 2008 it is clear that the downturn had a more pronounced effect on both production and construction. Production and construction have in fact gone through a second contraction. The production fall began in Q4 2010 and output fell to levels lower than those seen through the downturn, while construction fell slightly later, beginning its decline in Q2 2011 and reaching the low point of this second downturn in Q3 of 2012. Since this low point construction output has continued to improve and had increased 6% into Q4 2013.

Background notes

  1. What’s new?
    ONS previously announced the intention of transferring production of the construction estimates to a new CORD system from March 2014. ONS are reviewing this implementation date and will update users in due course.

    Following a review of the sampling methodology, there will be an update to the sizebands used  to stratify the sample.  The 5 - 19 strata will be replaced by two strata one for 5-9 employment the other for 10 -19 employment.  The overall sample size is unchanged.  These changes will be implemented in March 2014 on the January 2014 dataset. 

    Users are reminded, in line with previous announcements, that this publication contains the final data point in the constant price (2005) series.

  2. About this release 
    Construction output estimates are a short term indicator of construction output by private sector and public corporations within Great Britain. Output estimates are produced and published at current prices (including inflationary price effects) and at chained volume estimates (with inflationary effects removed) both seasonally adjusted and non-seasonally adjusted. Chained volume measures are also described as volume. Construction output is used in the compilation of the output approach to measuring gross domestic product (GDP).

    The data published in this release cover construction estimates for Great Britain. Construction output estimates for Northern Ireland can be obtained from the Central Survey Unit

  3. Revision  policy
    This release conforms to the standard National Accounts revision policy (41.6 Kb Pdf) , which can be found on the National Statistics website. In line with this, the construction output release for Quarter 4 2013 has a revision period back to January 2013.

    Figures for the most recent months are provisional and subject to revision in light of (a) late responses to the Monthly Business Survey (MBS) and (b) revisions to seasonal adjustment factors which are re-estimated every period.

  4. Statistical continuous improvement
    In December 2012, as part of its Statistical Continuous Improvement programme, ONS published a Review of Sample Design and Estimation Methodology for Construction Output. This report evaluated the sample design and estimation methods used on the Construction Output Survey. The conclusions of the review were that the current sample is performing well and that the current methodology for estimation within the survey produces the smallest standard error.

    In response to user feedback and in line with the announcement made in the article ‘Improvements to the methods used to compile Output in the Construction Industry statistics’, this statistical bulletin now contains monthly seasonally adjusted chained volume estimates. Due to the potential for confusion when comparing constant price (volume) and chained volume measures, all references to constant price series have been removed from this, and future bulletins. 

  5. Use of the data
    Output in the Construction Industry estimates are widely used both internally and externally and have been identified by legal requirement and user engagement surveys.

    The key users of data from the Output of the Construction Industry dataset are:

    • United Kingdom National Accounts. 

    • Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, in order to comply with statutory legislation on short-term business statistics (STS). Short-term business statistics provide information on the economic development of four major domains: industry, construction, retail trade and other services.

    • Industry analysts requiring estimates of the construction industry output of Great Britain.

    • Trade associations making UK and international comparisons and to forecast trends in the construction industry.

    • Other government departments including; the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), HM Treasury (HMT), Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Office for Budgetary Responsibility (OBR).

    As well as being a key indicator of the performance of construction companies, the results of the survey also contribute to the estimate of the gross domestic product of the UK, contributing approximately 6.3% of GDP.

  6. Methods
    The ONS Monthly Construction Output Survey measures output from the construction industry in Great Britain. It samples 8,000 businesses, with all businesses employing over 100 people or with an annual turnover of more than £60m receiving a questionnaire by post every month. The results of the survey are deflated using price indices from the Building Cost Information Service (BCIS) of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and then seasonally adjusted using X-12 Arima to derive the published estimates. 

  7. Quality
    The latest Quality and Methodology report (500.7 Kb Pdf) for the Output of the Construction Industry estimates can be found on the ONS website. 

  8. Revisions
    One indication of the reliability of the key indicators can be obtained by monitoring the size of revisions. Analysis of the previously published quarterly seasonally adjusted constant price series has shown that revisions to construction data are small. Generally these quarterly revisions are less than 1% when compared to the final revised period five quarters after initial publication. This indicates that the published estimates are a reliable snapshot of the output in the industry at the date of publication.

    The size and pattern of revisions which have occurred in the chained volume measures in the open period for revisions can be found in the new revision triangles on the construction web page. Please note that these indicators only report summary measures for revisions. The revised data may be subject to sampling or other sources of error. Details about this revisions material can be found in the document ‘Revisions information in ONS First Release’.

    It should be noted that due to seasonal adjustment taking place on a short span of data points used to interpret the seasonal effects there is potential for increased revisions until the seasonal pattern is established within the time series.

    Please note that a monthly seasonally adjusted chained volume series is not available pre-2010. This is due to monthly data not being available for this period. These data are a requirement for creating previous year’s prices from which chain linked volume measures are created. 

  9. Relevant links
    International Comparisons
    International construction comparisons are compiled by Eurostat. The estimates produced in this bulletin are included in these comparisons. Further information can be found on the Eurostat web page

  10. Further information
    Releases on construction output and employment prior to the transfer to ONS can be found on the BIS website.  

  11. User Engagement
    The user engagement section of the ONS website contains results of the survey held in April 2011 regarding users' satisfaction and use of the new orders and construction output surveys. 


    Understanding the data

    Interpreting the data
    When making comparisons it is recommended that users focus on chained volume measures or constant price (volume), seasonally adjusted estimates as these show underlying movements rather than seasonal movements.

    Construction output estimates are subject to revision because of:

    • Late responses to the Construction Output Survey. 

    • Revisions to seasonally adjusted factors which are re-estimated every quarter.

    • Annual updating of the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) that forms the basis of the sampling for the Construction Output Survey. This occurs in January and can have an effect on the results published in May.

    Definitions and explanations
    Definitions of terminology found within the main statistical bulletin are detailed below:

    Output is defined as the amount chargeable to customers for building and civil engineering work done in the relevant period excluding VAT. As well as work charged to customers, businesses are asked to include the value of work done on their own initiative on buildings such as dwellings or offices for eventual sale or lease, and of work done by their own operatives on the construction and maintenance of their own premises. The value of goods made by businesses themselves and used in the work is also included.

    In all returns, work done by sub-contractors is excluded to avoid double counting, since sub-contractors are also sampled. Output does not include payments made to architects or consultants from other firms – this would also cover engineers and surveyors. It would include wages paid to such people if they were directly employed by the business.

    Current price (value) (CP)
    Current prices are the actual or estimated recorded monetary value over a defined period. They show the value for each item expressed in terms of the prices of that period.

    Constant price (volume) (KP)
    A constant price or volume measure is a series of economic data from successive years expressed in real terms by computing the production volume for each year in the prices of a reference year. The resultant time-series of production figures has the effects of price changes removed (that is, monetary inflation or deflation). In other words, from the raw data a series is obtained which reflects only production volume. See the ‘Deflation’ section. Constant price series in this bulletin are based on the reference year 2005.

    Chained volume measures (CVM)
    A chained volume series is a series of data from successive years, put in constant price terms by computing the production volume for each year in the prices of the preceding year, and then chain-linking the data together to obtain a time-series of production figures from which the effects of price changes (i.e., monetary inflation or deflation) have been removed. Further information on chain-linking can be found in the methodological article ‘Annual chain-linking’.

    Seasonal adjustment (SA)
    Seasonal adjustment aids interpretation by removing effects associated with the time of the year or the arrangement of the calendar, which could obscure movements of interest.

    It is common for the value of a group of financial transactions to be measured in several time periods. The values measured will include both the change in the volume sold and the effect of the change of prices over that year. Deflation is the process whereby the effect of price change is removed from a set of values. The current reference year is 2010 for CVM data.

    Institutional sectors are defined in the System of National Accounts (SNA) glossary as;
    Units that are grouped together to form institutional sectors on the basis of their principal functions, behaviour, and objectives.

    The resident institutional units that make up the total economy are grouped into five mutually exclusive sectors:

    • Non-financial corporations.

    • Financial corporations.

    • General government.

    • Non-profit institutions serving households.

    • Households.

    In the case of non-financial and financial sectors these can be further broken down into public sector, those units either controlled by the state or funded from the public purse and include general government, local authorities, housing associations and nationalised industries and private sector, those units controlled by private individuals or groups and not by the public sector.

    Gross domestic product (GDP)
    Gross domestic product (GDP) is an integral part of the UK national accounts and provides a measure of the total economic activity in a region.

    GDP is often referred to as one of the main 'summary indicators' of economic activity and references to 'growth in the economy' are quoting the growth in GDP during the latest quarter.

    Construction estimates are a component of GDP from the output or production approach (GDP(O)) which measures the sum of the value added created through the production of goods and services within the economy (our production or output as an economy). This approach provides the first estimate of GDP and can be used to show how much different industries (for example, agriculture) contribute within the economy.

    Housing is generally defined as ‘all buildings that are constructed for residential use’. Within the public sector this classification includes construction items such as local authority housing schemes, hostels (except youth hostels), married quarters for the services and police; old peoples' homes; orphanages and children’s remand homes; and the provision within housing sites of roads and services for gases, water, electricity, sewage and drainage.

    Private sector housing includes all privately owned buildings for residential use, such as houses, flats and maisonettes, bungalows, cottages, vicarages, and the provision of services to new developments.

    Infrastructure is the generic term for the basic physical and organisational structures and facilities needed for the operation of a society or enterprise. These construction items include buildings, roads, power supplies, etc.

    Other new work
    Other new work excludes the housing and infrastructure sectors. This classification includes construction items such as factories, warehouses, schools and offices, etc.

    Within the public sector, non-housing is classified as the construction of building such as schools and colleges, hospitals, universities, fire stations, prisons and museums. Private sector non-housing is comprised of the private /industrial and private/commercial classifications. Private - industrial is the economic activity concerned with the processing of raw materials and manufacture of goods in factories and includes construction items such as factories and shipyards while private – commercial includes all items not included in the previous categories such as embassies, theatres, retail units, warehouses and garages, etc.

    Repair and maintenance
    The repair and maintenance heading in the construction estimates comprises of housing, infrastructure and other new work. This concerns work which is either repairing something that is broken, or maintaining it to an existing standard.  For housing output this includes repairs, maintenance, improvements, house/flat conversions, extensions, alterations and redecoration, etc. on existing housing. For non-housing this includes repairs, maintenance, redecoration, etc. on existing buildings/structures, which are not housing, for examples schools, offices, roads, shops.

    Table 2 of this bulletin aggregates infrastructure and other new work into non-housing.

  13. Code of Practice for Official Statistics
    National Statistics are produced to high professional standards which are set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs and are produced free from any political interference.

  14. Publication policy
    Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available from the Media Relations Office.

  15. Accessing data
    The Output in the Construction Industry statistical bulletin and relevant time series datasets are available to download free from the Office for National Statistics website at 9.30 am on the day of publication.

    ONS allows a list of agreed officials to have access to data 24 hours before publication, which is available on the Construction release page.

  16. Further information and user feedback
    As a user of our statistics, we would welcome feedback on this release, in particular on the content, format and structure. For further information about this release, or to send feedback on our publications, please contact us using the following information.


    Media contact:
    Tel Media Relations Office    +44 (0)845 6041858
    Emergency on-call    +44 (0)7867 906553

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  17. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

Statistical contacts

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