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.