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Integrated Household Survey: Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph

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The Mail on Sunday printed an article on 20 April 2008 raising concerns about the new Integrated Household Survey, which replaces several existing ONS household surveys, in particular focusing on the privacy of the data. Similar stories appeared in the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph the following day. The National Statistician wrote to all three newspapers to set out the advantages of the IHS and reassure respondents about confidentiality.

Issue date: 21 April 2008
Type: Letter to the Press

Letter to the Mail on Sunday, 20 April 2008

Sir,

Your article 'State to snoop on your sex life' (20 April) takes a very narrow view of the Integrated Household Survey. The Survey is bringing together four surveys that have been carried out across the UK for decades. Questions about relationships and childbearing, health status, contraception, drinking and smoking help to build pictures of family life and health related behaviours that are not available from other government sources. Bringing together the surveys helps to reduce costs and improve the quality of the data collected. For example, the combined sample size produces better statistics at regional and local level.

ONS takes its confidentiality pledge to the public extremely seriously. Personal details are separated from survey responses so that no identifiable information about individuals can be linked to the name and address of individuals. In addition, when data are published ONS takes great care to ensure that reports are anonymised so that no individual data can be identified.

Ironically your newspaper has been an avid and responsible reporter of statistics from our surveys over many years. Also, many of your readers will have been respondents to our surveys. I trust they will carry on helping, so that government policies continue to be based on sound evidence.

Yours faithfully

Karen Dunnell
National Statistician
Office for National Statistics
Government Buildings,
Cardiff Road,
Newport NR10 8XG

 

Letter to the Daily Mail, 21 April 2008

Sir,

Your article 'State busybodies want to pry into your bedroom secrets' (21 April) takes a very narrow view of the Integrated Household Survey. The Survey is bringing together four surveys that have been carried out across the UK for decades. Questions about relationships and childbearing, health status, contraception, drinking and smoking help to build pictures of family life and health related behaviours that are not available from other government sources. Bringing together the surveys helps to reduce costs and improve the quality of the data collected. For example, the combined sample size produces better statistics at regional and local level.

ONS takes its confidentiality pledge to the public extremely seriously. Personal details are separated from survey responses so that no identifiable information about individuals can be linked to the name and address of individuals. In addition, when data are published ONS takes great care to ensure that reports are anonymised so that no individual data can be identified.

Ironically your newspaper has been an avid and responsible reporter of statistics from our surveys over many years. Also, many of your readers will have been respondents to our surveys. I trust they will carry on helping, so that government policies continue to be based on sound evidence.

Yours faithfully

Karen Dunnell
National Statistician
Office for National Statistics
Government Buildings,
Cardiff Road,
Newport NR10 8XG

 

Letter to the Daily Telegraph, 21 April 2008

Sir,

Your article 'Who are you sleeping with and what's your pay, asks Whitehall' (21 April) takes a very narrow view of the Integrated Household Survey. The Survey is bringing together four surveys that have been carried out across the UK for decades. Questions about relationships and childbearing, health status, contraception, drinking and smoking help to build pictures of family life and health related behaviours that are not available from other government sources. Bringing together the surveys helps to reduce costs and improve the quality of the data collected. For example, the combined sample size produces better statistics at regional and local level.

ONS takes its confidentiality pledge to the public extremely seriously. Personal details are separated from survey responses so that no identifiable information about individuals can be linked to the name and address of individuals. In addition, when data are published ONS takes great care to ensure that reports are anonymised so that no individual data can be identified.

Ironically your newspaper has been an avid and responsible reporter of statistics from our surveys over many years. Also, many of your readers will have been respondents to our surveys. I trust they will carry on helping, so that government policies continue to be based on sound evidence.

Yours faithfully

Karen Dunnell
National Statistician
Office for National Statistics
Government Buildings,
Cardiff Road,
Newport NR10 8XG

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