We independently assess organisations and the transactions they undertake to determine how they should be treated in the UK National Accounts and related statistics. These assessments are undertaken by the Economic Statistics Classifications Committee based on international guidelines. This is particularly important to create a clear picture of the size of public debt and borrowing.

In very simple terms, we determine whether organisations are in the “public” or “private” sector and whether they are “market” or “non-market” producers. For example, an organisation producing output for sale is likely to be a “market producer” and may therefore be a “public corporation” or “private corporation”, depending on whether the government has significant and specific influence over its activities. Government bodies are another example of public sector organisations.

In assessing whether an organisation is public or private, a fundamental question is: “Does Government exercise significant control over the general corporate policy of the organisation?” This control can be exercised through the appointment of directors, control of over half of the shareholders’ voting power, or through special legislation, decree or regulation. An overview of how the process works can be found here.

These assessments are made purely for national accounting purposes. These classification decisions do not affect the legal ownership or management structures of organisations. We are not responsible for the policy or actions of third parties which may be based on the outcome of classification assessments.

Classification assessments can be instigated by us, HM Treasury, the Devolved Administrations, Eurostat, or by other UK government departments. HM Treasury and the devolved administrations may also submit policy proposals for our provisional classification assessments, either on their own behalf or on the behalf of other government departments. Such assessments are based purely on the proposals submitted. As an organisation independent of government we do not provide advice to help bring about a specific classification outcome.

Economic Statistics Classifications Team – contact us

For more information about national accounts classification decisions, the classification process, or the “Public Sector Classification Guide”, please contact the Economic Statistics Classifications team.

If your organisation is being assessed by us to determine its classification status, please see the ‘Information for organisations being classified’ before contacting the team. You can also find a detailed description of the classifications process here.

Please direct all emails to econstats.classifications@ons.gov.uk. This mailbox is monitored by the team, and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.

We can also be contacted by telephone: Helen Meaker, Head of Economic Statistics Classifications Tel: +44 1633 45 6763

Although contact by email is recommended, we can also be contacted by post: Economic Statistics Classifications, Office for National Statistics, Government Buildings, Cardiff Road, Newport, NP10 8XG.