1. How to take part

Start Now

Thank you for your interest in taking part in this survey.

To begin the study, please click “Start Now”, then enter your household access code; this can be found on your invitation letter.

The information you provide will be treated as confidential in accordance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

You can complete this study on a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. If you need to, you can stop and come back to the study later.

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2. About the ONS Shape Tomorrow Study

What is this study about?

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is carrying out this study, which covers a range of topics.

These include information about work, retirement, unemployment, education and looking after the family or home. The study may also ask about your health and well-being.

There will be some questions about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is to find out about how it may be affecting you, your family, employment and working patterns.

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3. Why should I take part?

This study is where the official employment and unemployment rates come from. To track the effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on our economy and society, it is vital that you take part.

By taking part in this study, you will help us to produce statistics about matters that affect the whole community. Government departments, public bodies and charities use the findings from this study to make plans and to meet the country’s changing needs. These findings are used to develop policies on:

  • improving health care, well-being and social care services

  • breaking down barriers to work and supporting people unable to work

  • meeting the need for housing, school places and recycling services

This is your unique opportunity to tell us about your experiences. Your responses will provide information not available from any other sources. Do not miss your chance to have your say.

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4. What will I be asked?

The study will cover a range of topics, including:

  • work
  • retirement
  • unemployment
  • training
  • looking after the family or home
  • health
  • well-being
  • education
  • what information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) you are aware of
  • the effect the coronavirus has had on your employment and working patterns

The questions we ask can be based on both facts and opinions.

There are no difficult questions, and we have made sure you do not need any specialist knowledge to take part. There are no right or wrong answers - your honest responses are vital for us to produce reliable statistics about our whole society.

We respect your right to a private life - the information you provide in this study will not be used to identify you in any way. If you are uncomfortable with any of the questions you are asked, you can always leave them out.

Do I have to answer all the questions?

Answering the questions is voluntary. If you do not want to answer some or any of the questions, you do not have to. Please answer as many questions as you can, to ensure that your experiences and circumstances are counted.

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5. What will you do with my answers?

Your personal information will remain confidential.

The details you provide will be combined with those of everyone else taking part so we can produce statistics. Any data we publish will never identify you or your household.

We do not sell on your data and you will not receive junk mail or marketing calls as a result of taking part in one of our studies.

If you want to know more, please see the section about our commitment to protecting your data.

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6. What is next?

You should have received a letter inviting your household to take part and introducing the study.

Your letter will include all the instructions and login details you will need - this study is available for you to complete at any time until the closing date stated in your letter.

We design our studies with you in mind and keep them as short as possible. We only collect the information we need to better understand our society. Your response is really important to us.

Once you have completed the study, we will combine the answers you give us with everybody else's. We then use these data to produce statistics.

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7. Who is carrying out the study?

This study is being carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which is the country's largest producer of statistics.

We are:

  • independent, unbiased and impartial: we are separate from other organisations and do not allow anything to influence the statistics we publish

  • the only organisation that produces official statistics as a primary role: we have no additional interest in the information we collect

  • only interested in society as a whole, and not you as an individual: statistics represent groups of people; we remove your personal details as we are not interested in singling you out

We are not:

  • a commercial or market research organisation: we do not work for profit and will not try to sell you anything

  • associated with any political parties: we produce official statistics, no matter who the Prime Minister or political party in government is

  • going to sell on your data under any circumstances: we value your involvement in our studies and do not profit from your data; you will not receive any "junk mail" as a result of taking part

  • monitoring you, as the data you give are only used for producing statistics: we will not use your information to contact you about other matters such as your tax, income or benefits, and we will not provide your information to anyone else for them to do so either

Read more about what we do at the ONS.

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8. Why have I been asked to take part?

To build a picture of our whole society, we need to talk to all types of people.

We carry out the census every 10 years to gather information about the whole population in England and Wales. Between each census, we rely on ongoing studies, like this one, to provide up-to-date information about changes to society.

It is not possible to ask everyone to take part in our ongoing studies; instead, we invite a sample of individuals or households, which makes sure we represent everyone.

Whoever you are, whatever you do, we want to hear from you.

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9. Who is conducting the study?

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has commissioned a third party, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA), to carry out the data collection aspects of the ONS Shape Tomorrow Study. However, the ONS will receive all data collected and remain in control of all responses given by all study participants.

Who designed the study?

The questionnaire was designed by the ONS.

Who are NISRA?

NISRA is an agency of the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland. NISRA is the principal source of official statistics and social research on Northern Ireland. These statistics and research inform public policy and associated debate in the wider society.

More information about NISRA can be found on the NISRA website.

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10. How to take part in the study?

How do I take part in the study?

If you have received a letter inviting you to take part in the study, go to www.ons.gov.uk/shapestudy. When asked, enter the household access code that appears on your letter.

Please note: if your letter does not contain a website address or household access code, you will receive this in the post shortly.

When do I need to complete the study by?

Your household should aim to complete the study by the date indicated on your invitation letter.

I am the only person in my household, should I complete the study?

Yes. Households are chosen at random to take part in this study and cannot be replaced. So, it is important for you to take part if you feel able to.

There is more than one person in my household, but we only have one access code

Everyone living in your household should take part in the study using the same household access code. The first person to enter will be asked some questions about the people who live in the household. There will then be a section of questions just for them. Following this, other members of the household aged 16 years or over can enter using the same web link and household access code. They will then select their name to complete their section.

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11. Questions about taking part

Where can I find my code to access the online study?

The household access code for completing the study online is printed on the invitation letter you should have received. If you have not received this yet, you should receive it in the post shortly. It is a 12-digit code that you should enter at www.ons.gov.uk/shapestudy when prompted.

Can I take a break part way through?

Yes, your progress saves automatically when completing the study. You can close the browser window containing the study whenever you like - your progress will be saved.

When you are ready to continue filling in the study, go to www.ons.gov.uk/shapestudy. Sign in with the same household access code and you will be returned to where you left off.

I do not have access to the internet, but I want to take part

If you have access to the internet via a smartphone or other means (such as via a local library or internet cafe), you will be able to take part in the study. If you do not have access to the internet, please call for free on 0800 085 7376 to let us know.

Why have I not received an invite, and how do I get one?

Households are chosen at random to take part in this study and cannot be replaced with others. To ensure the study is valid, only those selected at random can take part.

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12. Do I have to take part?

We hope we have explained just how important your response is to us and the value of your information in producing reliable statistics for decision-making. If you missed this, or need a refresher, see our section on Why should I take part?

It is your chance to have your voice heard. If you are still not convinced, you do not have to take part if you do not want to. For us to paint an accurate picture of our society, it is vital that we hear from as many people as possible, from all walks of life.

In many other countries, it is compulsory for selected individuals to take part. We are giving you the choice to make a difference.

Can I take part in the study in another way other than online?

Unfortunately, this study is only available online.

Can I complete the study in Welsh?

Yes, the study is available in Welsh. You will be able to choose to complete it in Welsh at any point in the study.

I have completed the online study but I want to change my answers; what do I do?

If you have submitted your response but would like to change your answers, please call for free on 0800 085 7376 or email surveyfeedback@ons.gov.uk to let us know.

Can I complete the study on behalf of someone in my household?

Where possible, each member of the household should complete their own section of the study. This is because there are some detailed questions about their circumstances.

If they are away or they would like you to complete their section for them, you may do so. It is important that everyone in your household sees the letters and leaflets that we send you.

Please remember that the answers should only be about them. If any member of the household is aged 15 years or under, an adult should complete the study on their behalf.

Can I help someone fill in their study?

It is fine to help someone in your household to answer their questions, but please remember that the answers should only be about them.

I have lost my login details needed to complete the study online. Can I have these again?

Reminder letters will be sent in the post to everyone who is yet to complete the study. The letter will have a household access code printed on it, which you can use to access the study.

How can I tell whether my answers have been successfully submitted?

Access the study again using the household access code that you submitted your answers with. If you have successfully submitted your questions, you will see a page saying the study is complete.

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13. Confidentiality and data protection

How we have selected you

Your address was obtained from a commercially available source called AddressBase, which is maintained by the Ordnance Survey. It contains details for 40 million residential and business addresses in the UK.

Full details of the source of your contact details can be obtained by calling 0800 085 7376 for free or by emailing surveyfeedback@ons.gov.uk.

If your household is selected to take part in this study, we cannot ask another household to take your place as this would affect how representative our study is.

Will I be identifiable in the results?

No, the information you submit will be treated as confidential as directed by the Code of Practice for Statistics. Any statistics or results produced will not identify you or anyone in your household.

Will anyone else see my answers?

The household access code is unique to your household. Please keep your code safe. Once you have submitted a completed study, the answers can no longer be accessed using your household access code.

How will we use the information you provide?

Your personal information will remain confidential.

The details you provide will be combined with those of everyone else taking part so we can produce statistics. Any data we publish will never identify you or your household.

We do not sell on your data, and you will not receive junk mail or marketing calls as a result of taking part in one of our studies.

How long will you keep the information I provide?

The information will only be held for a maximum of five years or as long as it is being used for producing statistics. The statistics produced will not identify you or anyone in your household.

What precautions for data protection and confidentiality have been taken?

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) adheres to the Code of Practice for Statistics and the Data Protection Act 2018 and processes all personal information with respect, keeping it secure and confidential. Any personal data collected are processed in systems that have been accredited by the Northern Ireland Civil Service, designed to uphold the security of the data and that are subject to regular assessment. Once the study is completed, NISRA will destroy all personal data securely.

How do we ensure your personal information is held securely?

We take our responsibilities to keep your personal information secure very seriously. As such, we take every reasonable precaution to ensure your information is protected from loss, theft or misuse. These precautions include appropriate physical security of our offices, controlled access to computer systems, and use of secure, encrypted internet connections when collecting personal information.

Cookies

Some online studies collect information through the use of cookies. These are small files stored on your computer. These files are used sparingly and only for quality control and validation and, more importantly, to prevent us sending you reminders for an online study you have already completed. It is possible for you to delete cookies or to prevent their use by adjusting the browser settings on your computer.

We also automatically capture information about your operating system, display settings and browser type to ensure that the study is delivered in a form suited to the software your computer is using. We do not capture any other information from your computer.

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14. What is ONS’s responsibility to the public?

You can read about the commitments the Office for National Statistics (ONS) makes to those taking part in its surveys in our ONS respondent charter for surveys of households and individuals.

If you have a question about how we process your personal data or want to find out more about your rights under data protection legislation, please see our data protection page.

Sometimes, we collect information on behalf of another organisation. For more information about how your data will be treated in these circumstances, please go to the household and individual surveys page to read about the survey that you have been selected for.

At the ONS, we take seriously our responsibility to the public. It is our policy that we will tell the appropriate authority if we believe there is a serious risk to someone's safety.

We would appreciate your suggestions on how we can improve any of our studies. It would also be great to hear from you if you are happy with the service you have received. You can email us at surveyfeedback@ons.gov.uk.

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15. Further help

If you have queries, please call our Survey Enquiry Line on +44 800 085 7376.

Minicom users should dial 18001 before this number. The opening times are:

Monday to Friday 8am to 7pm
Saturday 8am to 1pm

Useful links

NISRA

Information Commissioners Office

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16. Sharing data with our service providers

We sometimes share selected information with our service providers to help us run our surveys. We only share the personal details they need to know. To find out more about each service provider's commitment while they are handling your information, please visit their websites.

In this study, we work with other organisations to provide the following services:

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