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Respondent Charter for Business Surveys

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) Respondent Charter for Business Surveys sets out our commitment to the people who take part in our business surveys.

The aim of this Charter is to help you understand why your participation is important and what you can expect from us.

This Charter states our commitment to:

  • keep your information secure and confidential

  • make it as easy as possible to contribute

  • value your time and contribution

  • communicate with you and listen to your views

The Office for National Statistics (ONS): who are we and what do we do?

ONS is the executive office of the UK Statistics Authority.

We are the country's largest provider of official statistics, such as measures of growth in the economy and unemployment rates.

We also conduct the ten-yearly population census in England and Wales.

Taking part in our surveys: why do we need your help?

Central and local government, businesses, community organisations and many others need impartial and up-to date statistics from businesses to help them make decisions that affect the lives of everyone living and working in the UK.

It would not be practical for us to gather information from everyone, so we select a number of businesses to help us.

By ensuring that every type of business is represented, we build a full and accurate picture of society and the economy.

The statistics we publish are free of charge to all and provide information on a wide range of topics which encourages public debate, stimulates research and makes it easier for people to assess government performance.

We value your contribution: in fact the information you provide is so important that responding to ONS business surveys is required by law.

Will my information be kept safe?

Your information will be treated in the strictest confidence and keeping that information secure, is a fundamental part of all our business practices.

Our published statistics do not identify any individual or business. 

Our commitment to you

We will keep your information secure and confidential

This means that we will:

  • recognise that you are sharing confidential/personal information with us and treat it as confidential, as directed by the Code of Practice for Official Statistics

  • only use your information for statistical purposes and not publish anything that identifies an individual business

  • provide survey information to other organisations for statistical purposes only, subject to the same standards of protection we apply

  • ensure our staff are aware of their obligations, and follow correct procedures, to protect your confidential information

  • maintain the security of our systems and our buildings

We will make taking part in a survey as easy as possible

This means that we will:

  • identify ourselves as from the Office for National Statistics whenever we contact you and display our logo on all written communications

  • try to make the experience of taking part in a survey as straightforward as possible by ensuring the questions asked are phrased in a way which you will understand and are able to easily provide us with information

  • treat you with courtesy, respect and consideration

  • explain to you how you have been selected to take part, what the survey is about, how the results are used and why your contribution is important, via the internet and other methods of communications

  • provide published statistics to which your information has contributed, free of charge, via the internet

  • provide a dedicated phoneline to help you to address any difficulties caused by our requests for information

We will value your time and contribution

This means that we will:

  • design our surveys so that we take as little of your time as possible, make sure that each survey is necessary and that we could not collect that information in any other way

  • ask as few businesses as possible to take part, while ensuring we have enough information to obtain accurate statistics

  • ensure fairness across a range of businesses and generally operate on the basis that, businesses of a similar size, operating in the same industry, have the same chance of being included in our surveys

  • limit the impact on businesses who according to our register employ fewer than ten people. We will inform you how long you will be in a survey and if you complete this survey for the required period, you will not receive any further ONS business data requests for three years

  • find ways to make it easier for you to share your information with us, such as using the internet, using information already held by other government departments and take advantage of technological advances to improve how we collect your information

  • work with other governments departments to review how we measure the impact of our data requests and aim to reduce this

We will communicate with you and listen to your views

This means that we will:

  • provide a means for you to tell us what you think about taking part and respond quickly and fairly to any issues you raise in order to improve our customer service

  • reply to written feedback received from you within ten working days through our dedicated feedback team

  • maintain a well-trained, specialised workforce who can answer your questions

  • continue to build upon and expand our links with relevant organisations and associations including the Federation of Small Businesses

  • involve you/the business community and listen to your views when reviewing our surveys and processes to ensure your views are represented

  • balance your needs and the needs of our customers by improving the design of questionnaires and methods used to collect our requests for information

  • provide information on our website to help you understand the background to the survey and explain what taking part will involve

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