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Annual Business Survey


The Annual Business Survey (ABS), formerly known as the Annual Business Inquiry - part 2 (ABI/2), is the main structural business survey conducted by ONS. It crosses most business sectors, collecting financial data from businesses' end year accounts, including turnover, wages and salaries, purchases of goods and services, stocks and capital expenditure.

ABS is a key source of data used in the compilation of the Input-Output Annual Supply and Use tables for National Accounts. It also provides a major contribution to the Blue Book which is produced annually by National Accounts and used to inform HM Treasury in managing economic policy.

ABS is also the main collection module so that the UK can meet its legal obligation to Eurostat (the European Union statistical body) in collecting and providing data under the Structural Business Statistics regulation (SBS).

Other users include the Bank of England, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC), the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Scottish and Welsh Governments, Local authorities, academics, researchers, the media, businesses and the public. The Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland (DFPNI) carries out its own Annual Business Inquiry and provides the NI data to ONS to compile the UK results.

ABS also provides a key bench marking source for monthly and quarterly ONS surveys such as Capital Expenditure and Stocks.

The Annual Business Survey (ABS) has included results for the Insurance and Reinsurance industry (SIC 2007 Groups 65.1 and 65.2 respectively) in its UK National releases since 2008. This is the only part of Financial and Insurance Activities (Section K) covered by the ABS. Data for this industry has remained experimental since its first release while ongoing quality assurance of the developing time series has taken place. This quality assurance has led the figures to be revised substantially in recent years with a resulting break in the series between 2009 and 2010. Due to ongoing volatility in the data for 2012 we have decided to remove Insurance and Reinsurance data from future ABS releases while a more detailed quality assessment is undertaken. This does not affect other Industries.

ABS coverage, 2012 onwards (95.6 Kb Pdf)

ABS coverage, 2008 to 2011 (94.7 Kb Pdf)


Example Current Questionnaires (please note these are for information only and should not be used to return data to ONS):

From the 2014 survey there will be additional questions asked for the acquisition and disposal of capital assets. See this leaflet (165.2 Kb Pdf) for an overview of changes, or this article which explains the background and reasons for asking more detailed questions on capital assets.

Example Capital Assets Questions for 2014, with some variations based on main activity (please note these are for information only and should not be used to return data to ONS):


Selection criteria: UK trading businesses registered for VAT and/or PAYE

Population: approximately 2.0 million

Sample size: approximately 62,000

Frequency: annually

Dispatch date: between the 30 January and 28 February

Return by date: beginning of May or within two months of respondents' business year end

Please note dispatch and return-by dates are a guide, they are subject to change due to national holidays and weekends.    

Where are the data published? 

The data are published annually in a UK National Provisional Release, a UK National Revised Release and a UK Regional Release.

For more information go to the ABS webpages.


Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.