The Bank held a consultation over August and September on proposed changes to the Agents’ scores (please see table for further details of the proposed changes).
There were four responses to the consultation. Those pointed out that comparability of the new ‘whole economy’ scores with back data would be reduced given that their coverage was broader than the scores they replaced. There was also a concern about reduced comparability from changes in the time horizons captured by the scores for capacity utilisation and employment intentions in particular. In addition, responses noted a cost of some loss of information at the sectoral level, given the proposal that some scores be changed to cover the ‘whole economy’ rather than a number of individual sectors. And there was a request for greater clarity on the definition of the services export scores.
We acknowledge some costs in terms of less sectoral granularity and less direct comparability of some scores over the full time series. But we believe the changes better align the Agents’ scores to the whole of the UK economy. Also, as noted by respondents, a number of other business surveys provide more sectoral detail, e.g. between manufacturing and services, and these provide an alternative source for sectoral development. In terms of changes in the time horizon of the capacity utilisation and employment intentions scores, we believe that these are likely to have limited effects on the scores in practice. For clarification, the services exports score would cover both business and consumer services exports, which will be made clear when the scores are published. Overall, given the small number of respondents raising concerns and given a need to expand our coverage to meet the Bank’s broader remit, while keeping the number of scores manageable, we intend to continue with the planned changes. We will provide an update on when the changes will be made in the early part of 2018.
September 2018: in the light of further internal discussions and the consultation responses received, we have decided to review our decision. A further update will be provided in due course.
March 2019: Following further consideration and consultation with users, we have decided to change the Agents’ scores, as previously proposed.
We plan to publish new scores in the June 2019 Agents' Summary of Business Conditions. This edition of the ASBC will also be the last time we update our existing scores, but we will continue to publish the back series. Where relevant, we also intend to aggregate our existing scores, for example producing scores for the manufacturing and services sector combined. These 'aggregated old scores' will be more comparable with the new scores and will allow a longer time series (back to 1997) to be produced and used with the new scores.
We already published an exports of services score in the December 2018 Agents' Summary of Business Conditions. And we previously updated our definitions of the Agents’ scores to reflect labelling changes and small definitional changes to our consumer goods and services scores.