DSC-25 Early indicator for GDP based on VAT

Can company tax (value added tax, VAT) turnover returns be used to provide an early indicator of gross domestic product (GDP) growth?

Team members

  • Louisa Nolan
  • Gareth Clews
  • Steven Hopkins
  • Bernard Peat
  • Cerys Hopkins
  • Ben Aspey
  • Rhydian Page
  • Caitlin Johnson
  • Tom Smith

The need

  • What are we trying to improve? Following the financial downturn in 2008/09 a need was identified for a means of predicting behaviour of economic measures at an earlier point than the official cestimates
  • How might this be useful? This indicator may provide advance warning of large change in behaviour of GDP.


  • What is the impact in terms of public good? This project can allow a more immediate understanding of and reaction to changes in the economy.
  • This is to be shared with Office for National Statistics (ONS) National Accounts via delivery of the codebase used in the prototype and a blog will be written for publication on the Campus website.
  • Who is using it? This indicator is not currently in use. It may be used by ONS once a full suite of indicators is developed as a separate project.

Data science

  • What’s new, innovative, shiny, difficult, interesting about this? Use of administrative data sources to predict behaviours of official statistics.
  • What is the data science stack ? Python.


  • Who are the Partners / stakeholders?
    • ONS
    • HM Treasury
    • HMRC
  • Who are we working with?
    • ONS

Code and outputs

  • What are the outputs?
    • Code
    • Blog
  • Repository is not currently public


  • May 2018 Project delivered to National Accounts
  • October 2018 Blog publication

Further information

Please contact datasciencecampus@ons.gov.uk for more information.


  • No updates yet.


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