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2012/13 Annual Report on Government Statistical Surveys For Official Statistics of Businesses and Local Authorities

Released: 23 January 2014 Download PDF

Summary of Key Findings

  • In 2012/13 there were 293 surveys, compared to 329 surveys in 2011/12, a decrease of 36 surveys (approx 11%).

  • In 2012/13 there were 117 voluntary surveys and in 2011/12 there were 148 voluntary surveys, a decrease of 31 (approx 21%). 

  • In 2012/13 there were 176 statutory surveys and in 2011/12 there were 181 statutory surveys, a decrease of 5 (approx 3%).

  • In constant compliance cost prices, the cost of running surveys in 2012/13 was £50,593,000, equating to a decrease of £302,000 (approx 0.6%) since 2011/12, indicating very little movement in compliance cost year-on-year. 

  • In current compliance cost prices, there is an overall increase of £520,000 (approx 1%) from 2011/12.

  • In 2012/13, approximately 2.7 million questionnaires were used and in 2011/12, 3.1 million questionnaires were used.

Introduction

The 2012/13 Report is the latest in an annual series1. This report provides information on the costs to businesses and local authorities of completing government statistical surveys that contribute to official statistics. The report aims to help users and data providers judge the effectiveness of efforts to minimise the costs of complying with government surveys while maintaining a system of reliable and accurate statistics. The report covers costs incurred by businesses and local authorities in complying with regular and ad-hoc government surveys contributing to official statistics conducted in the past financial year or for which fieldwork began in this period. The report also provides the number of surveys contributing to official statistics carried out by each government department.

Information from statistical surveys is fundamental to government, to the delivery of public services and to decision-making in all sectors of society. However, statisticians must do all they can to minimise the financial burden placed on respondents to surveys. Producers of official statistics are therefore required to be compliant with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics (2009) Principle (6) proportionate burden which states:

“The cost burden on data suppliers should not be excessive and should be assessed relative to the benefits arising from the use of the statistics”

It also sets out the practices that should be undertaken by producers of official statistics.

As announced in the 2010/11 Report,  there has been a change in the methodology used to measure compliance costs. This new methodology has been implemented across the GSS since 2010/11, and used to calculate compliance in all subsequent reports. As announced in the 2011/12 Report the governance for survey control matters has also changed. The 2012/13 Report uses the new methodology for measuring compliance costs and the new governance and scope. For further information on these changes, please use the links provided to both the 2010/11 Report and 2011/12 Report.

To ensure all statistical surveys conducted by government departments are measured and monitored, the Survey Control Unit (SCU) has compiled an Online List of Government Statistical Surveys (OLGSS). The OLGSS was first published in February 2013, and functions as a central source of information and a place for notification of newly proposed surveys and planned changes to existing surveys. In line with the Code of Practice, it is anticipated that the list will be expanded in the future to include surveys to individuals and households.

Notes for Introduction

  1. Previous reports in this series can be found on the ONS website.

Background to Monitoring and Reducing Burden of Complying with Government

SCU has a number of responsibilities; one of these is to produce this annual report. It also sets out the practices that should be undertaken by producers of official statistics for monitoring compliance costs. Initiatives for reducing compliance burden include:

The ‘One-In, Two-Out rule’ (currently in place for surveys run under a regulation).
When Ministers seek to introduce new UK regulations which impose costs on business or the voluntary sector, they have to identify two current UK regulations, with an equivalent value, that can be removed.

The ‘No Gold Plating’ rule (currently in place for surveys run because of an EU directive) or regulation.

Gold Plating occurs when implementation goes beyond the minimum necessary to comply with an EU directive or regulation, for example by:

  • extending the scope;

  • adding to the substantive requirement;

  • substituting wider UK legal terms for those used in the directive or regulation;

  • not taking full advantage of any derogations which keep requirements to a minimum;

  • retaining pre-existing UK standards where they are higher than those required by the directive or regulation; and

  • implementing early, before the date given in the directive or regulation.

Calculating Statistical Survey Compliance Costs

The compliance cost model used since 2010 for surveys to businesses and local authorities, is outlined below.

Compliance cost model for surveys to businesses and local authorities:

burden = [{nresp,main_surv x med(tmain_surv)} + {nval,main_surv x med(tval)}] x hourly_rate

              +

              [propexternal costs x nresp,main_surv] x med(external cost)

where:

nresp,main_surv  is the number of responses to the survey or interview.  
med(tmain_surv) is the median time taken to complete the questionnaire or interview.  
nval,main_surv is the number of respondents from the main survey re-contacted for the purpose of validating their responses.  
med(tval) is the median time taken in any additional re-contact of respondents for validation purposes.
hourly_rate is the (estimated) hourly rate as decided by each department, based on ASHE and updated annually.
propexternal costs is the proportion of respondents who incur external costs.  
med(external cost) is the median cost incurred (eg. accountant's fees) by those businesses and local authorities that say they do incur external costs.

Further guidance on how to calculate compliance costs using this methodology can be found on the ONS website (781 Kb Word document) .

Summary of official statistical surveys

Figure A below shows the total number of official statistical surveys conducted between 2011/12 and 2012/13, with a breakdown by voluntary and statutory surveys.

Figure A: 2011/12 to 2012/13 Number of Official Surveys

Figure A: 2011/12 to 2012/13 Number of Official Surveys
Source: Culture, Media and Sport, Education, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, International Development, Transport, Health, Work and Pensions, Forestry Commission, Food Standards Agency, HM Revenue and Customs, Treasury (Her Majestys), Home Office, Health and Safety Executive, Ministry of Justice, Office for National Statistics, Welsh Government

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Between 2011/12 and 2012/13, there was a decrease in the total number of surveys of 36 (approx 11%). This was comprised of a decrease of 31 in the number of voluntary surveys (approx 21%) and a smaller decrease of 5 in the number of statutory surveys (approx 3%).

Summary of the number of questionnaires

In the 2011/12 Report and consistent with previous Reports, Intrastat2 was excluded from the number of questionnaires. As requested by HMRC, the number of completed whole monthly Intrastat trade returns are now included in the number of questionnaires of the 2012/13 Report and will continue to be so in future reports. In order to provide a year-on-year comparison we have revised the questionnaire total to include Intrastat for 2011/12 in the following summary:

Approximately 2.7 million questionnaires were used in 2012/13 compared with 3.1 million questionnaires in 2011/12.

 

Notes for Summary of official statistical surveys

  1. Intrastat is compiled from monthly trade returns made by VAT registered businesses, which are made up of individual 'lines' of trade. This statistical information provides details on the movement of goods to and from EU Member States.

Summary of Compliance Costs of Surveys Contributing to Official Statistics

In 2012/13 official statistical surveys imposed an estimated £50.6 million compliance cost on respondents, which equates to £519,000 increase (approx 1%) on the previous year. Compliance costs are not always directly related to the number of surveys. This is often due to a change in hourly rates, external costs incurred by the respondent, response rates to the survey increasing and other factors as detailed in the compliance cost model in Section 3: Calculating statistical surveys compliance cost. Explanations of major departmental changes in compliance costs between 2011/12 and 2012/13 are discussed in Section 6: Explanation of major changes.

Please note that some departments have revised their 2011/12 figures from those published last year. Information about major revisions is provided in Section 6.1: Major revisions to 2011/12 figures.

Comparison of Compliance Costs

This report shows the compliance costs at current prices: that is, in terms of staff costs at the time the statistical surveys were run. However, it is useful to summarise the change over time in terms of staff costs at constant prices. Figure B. gives an indication of the trend over time at both valuations.

Figure B. 2010/11 to 2012/13 compliance costs at current and constant prices

Figure B: 2010 to 2012/13 Compliance Costs at Current and Constant Prices

Figure B: 2010 to 2012/13 Compliance Costs at Current and Constant Prices
Source: Business, Innovation and Skills, Communities and Local Government, Cabinet Office, Energy and Climate Change, Culture, Media and Sport, Education, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, International Development, Transport, Health, Work and Pensions, Forestry Commission, Food Standards Agency, HM Revenue and Customs, Treasury (Her Majestys), Home Office, Health and Safety Executive, Ministry of Justice, Office for National Statistics, Welsh Government

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Using constant prices allows for an easier comparison between years, to establish whether complying to surveys is effectively cheaper or more expensive in real terms. In 2012/13 the constant price of £50,593,000 equates to a decrease of £302,000 (approx 0.6%) since 2011/12. In current prices, there is an overall increase of £520,000 (approx 1%) from the previous year. This indicates very little movement in compliance year-on-year (as shown in Figure B).

Compliance Tables 1 and 2 in Section 8: Detailed breakdown of statistical survey compliance information section give breakdowns of the costs summarised above, in current price terms only. 

Explanation of Major Changes

Compliance Tables 1 and 2, in Section 8: Detailed breakdown of statistical survey compliance information, show the changes in compliance costs for 2012/13 for each department when compared with 2011/12. Table 3 indicates that some of these changes are due to increases or decreases in the number of surveys run by departments (some of which may be biennial (run every two years), response rates can have an impact for example, if response rates to a survey increase, then so will the compliance cost. There are also external factors outside government departments’ control for example, schools reporting changes in school attendance etc.

There are also changes in compliance costs that should be noted specifically. In Section 6.2: Major changes between 2011/12 and 2012/13 section, we have focused on those departments whose compliance costs have changed by £80,000 or more and at least 10% from last year.

Major Revisions to 2011/12 Figures

Departments are given the opportunity to revise figures published the previous year (in this case 2011/12 figures). Where figures have been revised, these are identified in the tables using an ‘r’ (as seen in Compliance Tables 1 and 3 Section 8: Detailed breakdown of statistical survey compliance information). Explanations of major revisions are provided below.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) revised its figures for 2011/12, increasing its compliance costs by £39,260 (approx 100%). This was due to identifying a survey that contributed to official statistics and was therefore within the scope of this report.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) revised its figures for 2011/12, increasing compliance by £264,000 (approx 73%). This revision is based on the UK Innovation Survey not being included in the 2011/12 Report when the dates of the fieldwork suggest that it should have been included.

Major Changes between 2011/12 and 2012/13

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) in 2011/12 reported a compliance figure of £624,000 and in 2012/13 reported £429,000. This equates to a decrease in compliance of £195,000 (approx 31%). BIS attributes the decrease to the UK Innovation Survey being a biennial survey which was conducted in 2011/12 but not in 2012/13. They also no longer fund the Annual Minerals Raised Inquiries which were partially included in 2011/12.

Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) formerly the National Health Service Information Centre (NHSIC), report on behalf of the Department of Health (DH). All figures provided by HSCIC are referred to in the tables as DH. The Department of Health (DH) in 2011/12 reported a compliance figure of £1,294,000, and in 2012/13 reported £1,460,000. This equates to an increase in compliance of £166,000 (approx 13%). DH attributes the increase to surveys that are run less than annually, running in this reporting period.



 


 

Departmental Changes

During 2011/12, the National Health Service Information Centre (NHSIC) was renamed the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). This name has been used in the 2012/13 Report.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) will cease to exist in April 2014.

Detailed Breakdown of Statistical Survey Compliance Information

The following tables give detailed breakdowns, by department, of the information in Section 5: Summary of Compliance Costs of Surveys Contributing to Official Statistics.

Compliance Table 1 shows the changes in compliance costs arising from departments’ surveys contributing to official statistics in 2012/13 compared with 2011/12. Departments marked with an asterisk have been identified as having changes in compliance costs of £80,000 and at least 10% over the previous year. The main reasons for these changes are explained in Section 6.2: Major changes between 2011/12 and 2012/13.

Table 1: Total costs of complying with government statistical surveys: Last two years at current prices

Compliance Costs (£ thousands)  
Departments 2011/12 2012/13 Year-on-Year  Change Year-on-Year Change (%)  
     
BIS* 624 r 429 -195 -31
DCLG 2,773 2,747 -26 -1
CO 0 0 0 0
DECC 115 114 -1 -1
DCMS 26 28 2 10
   
DfE 6,306 6,444 138 2
DEFRA 650 583 -67 -10
DFID 0 0 0 0
DfT 4,004 3,880 -124 -3
DH* 1,294 1,460 166 13
   
DWP 0 0 0 0
FC 3 r 4 1 36
FSA 0 0 0 0
GAD 0 0 0 0
HMRC 10,046 r 10,315 269 3
   
HMT 0 0 0 0
HO 0 24 24 0
HSE 2 r 0 -2 -100
MoJ 39 r 36 -3 -8
NAO 5 0 -5 -100
   
NS&I 0 0 0 0
OFT 9 0 -9 -100
ONS 22,577 r 22,972 395 2
WG 1,600 1,557 -43 -3
   
TOTAL 50,073 r 50,593 520 1
           

Table notes:

  1. Source: Government departments
  2. r = revised by individual departments after publication of 2011/12 report.
  3. * = major changes in compliance costs from previous year.
  4. Figures may not add exactly due to rounding.
  5. Departments’ names have been abbreviated as shown in Appendix A – eg the Cabinet Office is shown as “CO”.

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Table 2 gives the compliance costs and year-on-year changes shown in Table 1, broken down by businesses and local authorities.

Table 2: Costs to businesses and local authorities of complying with government surveys

  Compliance Costs (£  thousands)
  2011/12   2012/13   Year-on-Year Change
Departments Business Local Authority Business Local Authority Business Local Authority
BIS 624 r 0   429   0   -195 0
DCLG 51   2,722   60   2,687   9 -35
CO 0   0   0   0   0 0
DECC 115   0   114   0   -1 0
DCMS 26   0   26   2   0 2
DfE 0   6,306   0   6,444   0 138
DEFRA 538   112   472   111   -66 -1
DFID 0   0   0   0   0 0
DfT 362 r 3,642 r 345   3,535   -17 -107
DH 0   1,294   0   1,460   0 166
DWP 0   0   0   0   0 0
FC 3 r 0 r 4   0   1 0
FSA 0   0   0   0   0 0
GAD 0   0   0   0   0 0
HMRC 10,046 r 0   10,315   0   269 0
HMT 0   0   0   0   0 0
HO 0   0   24   0   24 0
HSE 2 r 0   0   0   -2 0
MoJ 0   39 r 0   36   0 -3
NAO 5   0   0   0   -5 0
NS&I 0   0   0   0   0 0
OFT 9   0   0   0   -9 0
ONS 22,494 r 83   22,889   83   395 0
WG 200   1,400   165   1,392   -35 -8
TOTALS 34,475 r 15,598 r 34,843   15,750   368 152
                     

Table notes:

  1. Source: Government departments
  2. r = revised by individual departments after publication of 2011/12 report.
  3. Figures may not add exactly due to rounding.
  4. Departments’ names have been abbreviated as shown in Appendix A – eg the Cabinet Office is shown as “CO”.

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Table 3 shows the number of government surveys contributing to official statistics carried out by each department, detailing the proportion of these that were voluntary rather than statutory and the change in the total number of surveys when compared with 2011/12.

Table 3: Number of government surveys contributing to official statistics

  2011/12 2012/13  
Departments  Number of Surveys Of which voluntary (%)  Number of Surveys Of which voluntary (%) Year-on-Year Change in Number of Surveys
BIS 7 r 71 4 50 -3
DCLG 19 58 19 16 0
CO 0   0   0
DECC 25 64 25 64 0
DCMS 2 50 3 67 1
DfE 26 12 25 20 -1
DEFRA 32 63 32 63 0
DFID 0   0   0
DfT 21 29 19 26 -2
DH 8 100 8 100 0
DWP 0   0   0
FC 7 r 100 8 100 1
FSA 0   0   0
GAD 0   0   0
HMRC 2 50 2 50 0
HMT 0   0   0
HO 0   1 100 1
HSE 1 r 100 0   -1
MoJ 1 r 100 1 100 0
NAO 1 100 0   -1
NS&I 0   0   0
OFT 5 100 0   -5
ONS 63 r 6 62 6 -1
WG 109 53 84 49 -25
           
TOTALS 329 r 68 293 40 -36

Table notes:

  1. Source: Government departments
  2. r = revised by individual departments after publication of 2011/12 report.
  3. Figures may not add exactly due to rounding.
  4. Departments’ names have been abbreviated as shown in Appendix A – eg the Cabinet Office is shown as “CO”.

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Background notes

  1. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Appendix A. Departments and their abbreviations

Departments

 

Abbreviation

 

 

 

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

 

BIS

Department for Communities and Local Government

 

DCLG

Cabinet Office

 

CO

Department of Energy and Climate Change

 

DECC

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

 

DCMS

 

 

 

Department for Education

 

DfE

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

 

DEFRA

Department for International Development

 

DFID

Department for Transport

 

DfT

Department of Health

 

DH

 

 

 

Department for Work and Pensions

 

DWP

Forestry Commission

 

FC

Food Standards Agency

 

FSA

Government Actuary’s Department

 

GAD

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs

 

HMRC

 

 

 

Her Majesty’s Treasury

 

HMT

Home Office

 

HO

Health and Safety Executive

 

HSE

Ministry of Justice

 

MoJ

National Audit Office

 

NAO

 

 

 

National Savings and Investments

 

NS&I

Office of Fair Trading

 

OFT

Office for National Statistics

 

ONS

Welsh Assembly Government

 

WAG

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