Aim of this survey

The Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) publishes employee and employment estimates at detailed geographical and industrial levels and is regarded as the official source of employee and employment estimates by detailed geography and industry.

The BRES has two purposes, collecting data to update local unit information and business structures on the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) and producing annual employment statistics which are published via both the Nomis website and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) website. BRES employment statistics are widely used, particularly by local government planning departments who use it to forecast trends in employment in their specific areas.

It is important that the information held on the IDBR is correct as it is a comprehensive list of UK businesses, which ONS and other government departments use as a sampling frame for business surveys.

It is also an important data source for analyses of business activity.

What you need to know

To complete the survey, you will need the following information:

  • a breakdown of the number of employees, both full-time and part-time, at all your operating sites on 9 September

All information you provide is strictly confidential.

Survey information

Selection criteria: Great Britain trading businesses registered for VAT and/or PAYE. Northern Ireland data is received direct from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) which we use to create UK estimates.

Population: approximately 2,600,000
Sample: approximately 85,000
Frequency: annually
Dispatch dates: between 6 and 8 September
Return-by date: 5 October

Dispatch and return-by dates are a guide. They are subject to change due to national holidays and weekends.

Why you were selected

Your business has been selected from a directory of businesses in the UK which are registered for VAT and/or PAYE or with Companies House. Your response ensures we represent your industry.

The Business Register and Employment Survey is conducted under the provisions of the Statistics of Trade Act 1947. Once selected, your business is legally obliged to comply. You cannot appeal your selection.

Why you have received this survey

We survey businesses of all sizes to ensure our statistics are representative of the UK economy. We select large businesses (those with 100 plus employees) for any relevant ONS business surveys because their information is so significant.

We select some small and medium businesses, usually for a set period of time then replace them with other businesses from their industry. They are very important to us as their trading patterns are often very different to large businesses.

How to complete this survey

Please complete and return the questionnaire following the guidelines on the front page.

At the moment this survey is not available to complete online. However, we are developing our processes to better support businesses.

Editable PDFs are available for the paper-based questionnaire and can be requested via the request a business survey form.

Alternatively, you can contact the survey team directly. When contacting us, you will need to provide the survey ID code 221 and your 11-digit reference number; this can be found on any communication you have received from us.

We are currently developing a secure online collection platform. You will receive a letter notifying you when you can complete the BRES online. We appreciate your patience.

Please note that reminders are issued automatically, so you may receive one if you submit data just before or after the return date.

If you need help

If your question is not answered above, you may be able to find the answer in the About ONS business surveys section.

If you would like to use our Minicom service for the deaf 01633 815044.

For any other queries, please contact the BRES Survey Team on 0300 1234 944 using survey code 221; or you can email quoting your reference number beginning with 499 or 500 and survey code 221 in the subject line.

If you would like to speak to someone in Welsh: 0300 1234 921.

Er mwyn gwneud cais am ffurflen Gymraeg: 0300 1234 921.

When contacting us via telephone, please provide the following information:
Survey code: 221
Respondent Reference Number: beginning with 499 or 500