1. Office for National Statistics

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is the executive office of the UK Statistics Authority. We are the UK's largest independent producer of official statistics and the recognised national statistical institute.

Government organisations, businesses, charities and academics rely on our statistics to make decisions and plan for the future.

Collecting information from as many households as possible allows us to get a complete and accurate picture of life in the UK.

The information we gather from survey respondents is used to produce statistics on:

  • employment

  • inflation

  • migration

We are also responsible for carrying out the census in England and Wales.

Your data will be kept secure. For more information, see data protection and studies about people, families and households.

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2. How we select households

For some of our surveys, we select a sample at random from the Royal Mail's Postcode Address File. These surveys include the:

  • Family Resources Survey (FRS) 

  • Household Assets Survey (HAS) 

  • Living Costs and Food Survey (LCF) 

  • Labour Force Survey (LFS) 

  • Survey on Living Conditions (SLC)

For other surveys, such as the Shape Tomorrow study, we use AddressBase to geographically sample data. For more information, see Data protection and studies about people, families and households.

Once selected, a household cannot be replaced by another household, as this would affect how representative the survey is.

Every year half a million people take part in our surveys. Nobody has to take part if they do not want to, but your participation is important in ensuring that the entire community is represented.

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3. Guidance on completing our surveys

When completing one of our surveys, we will collect information about everybody in your household on topics such as:

  • health

  • housing

  • employment

  • education

  • training

Survey formats

Our surveys come in many formats. 

If you need to change survey formats due to accessibility requirements, make an accessibility request

Online surveys

Some of our surveys are available to complete online. If you are chosen to take part in an online survey, we will provide you with a link in a letter or email.

This letter will also contain your household access code, this is your login. 

The Shape Tomorrow and Lifestyle surveys can also be completed by telephone, see the telephone surveys section for more information.

If you have feedback about an online survey or have lost your access code, contact us

In-person surveys

Some of our surveys are carried out face-to-face by our field interviewers.

If you want to check that an interviewer is a real ONS interviewer: 

  1. Ask for their unique identification number 

  2. Contact us

Telephone surveys

Some interviews can be completed over the telephone. 

If you are chosen for a telephone interview, the number we will be calling you from is 02392 958 174.

If you would like to complete the Shape Tomorrow or Lifestyle survey over the phone, contact our freephone Survey Enquiry Line on 0800 298 5313.

Opening times are: 

  • Monday to Friday 8am to 7pm 

  • Saturday 8am to 1pm

An interviewer will contact you to arrange a suitable time to conduct the interview. 

Paper surveys

Some of our surveys are still completed on paper. Surveys of this type will be delivered to you in the post.

If you have lost your paper survey, contact us

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4. Return dates

For some surveys, the timetable for producing data is very short to give an early indication of what is happening in the economy.

Survey reminders

As many of our reminders are sent by post, a reminder may be on its way to you before our system tells us that you have completed the survey.\ Email reminders may also be sent out automatically if a questionnaire is returned close to the return by date. 

If you receive a reminder for a survey you have already completed, you do not need to take any further action. 

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5. Data protection

For information about your rights and how we process your data, see Data protection and studies about people, families and households.

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6. Return to survey

If you have been invited to complete a survey, go to find studies about people, families and households.

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7. Contact us

If you have any queries, want to provide feedback, or need more information, contact us.

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