The Office for National Statistics (ONS) uses a combination of census, surveys and administrative sources to produce its data.
Teams of statisticians, researchers and analysts produce series of data to inform users in their particular area of expertise.
Statistics produced by ONS adhere to a strict code of practice to set a standard of best practice which any series of statistics must pass to qualify for the National Statistics quality mark.
Quality is the cornerstone of good practice and includes:
Reliability and transparency are essential components for evidenced-based societies to make the best decisions.
Examples of surveys and sources are:
The ten-yearly census
The census is probably the biggest peacetime project carried out by the Government, involving every person and every home in the country to build the most comprehensive and accurate picture of the population and its composition.
The census sticks to strict rules of confidentiality to ensure that no individual or family’s personal data are available to anyone else other than census officials for at least 100 years.
Companies are required by law to provide information about their businesses which help ONS provide various series of data that help build a picture of the economy.
A sample of households across the country are asked to take part in a number of economic and social surveys.
These can range from labour surveys through to surveys on drinking and smoking.
In 2009 ONS merged five of its main surveys to form a new Integrated Household Survey (IHS). This is the largest ever continuous survey to be conducted in this country involving around 200,000 independent household interviews each year.
The set of core questions asked takes about 15 minutes to answer with further questions from one of five modules – work, lifestyle, expenditure, housing, or opinion.
ONS employs its own field force of around 700 household survey interviewers including a telephone-contact unit.
Data are collected in a number of other formal ways from information required – for example the number of people out of work and claiming Jobseeker's Allowance.