1. Introduction

The Household Assets Survey (HAS) is a vital source of information on how households in Great Britain are managing economically. The study focuses on household assets and debts, borrowing and saving, and plans for retirement.

The results will be used to inform government policy on a range of issues, including pension provision.

HAS is a longitudinal study, which means respondents are interviewed more than once, with about a two-year interval in this case.

If you are taking part in the study and your contact details change during this time, please email has.contacts@ons.gov.uk stating:

  • your name
  • old and new address
  • contact telephone number
  • the names and ages of other household members who have moved with you to this new address
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2. Why is this study important?

The need for better information about individual and household wealth (both assets and debts) has been increasingly recognised by government departments in recent years. The Household Assets Survey collects this information, producing official statistics about matters that affect everyone, such as the level of savings and borrowing, how people save for their retirement, how wealth is distributed between different types of households and factors that affect household financial planning. By using repeat interviews (at two-yearly intervals) with the same people, changes over time can be tracked. No other official study collects this information.

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3. Why should I take part?

Whatever your circumstances, they are relevant to this study. Obtaining information from as many selected households as possible is the only way we can get a complete and accurate picture of the financial status of the nation’s households. By taking part in the study you will ensure that your experiences and circumstances become an important part of the bigger picture of life in the UK today and will be helping to influence matters that affect us all, such as policies on pensions and savings.

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4. What is involved?

An interviewer will arrange a suitable time to visit you to conduct the interview. All questionnaire data are collected face-to-face using computer-assisted questionnaires. The questionnaires consist of two parts. The first is a short household interview with the main householder or their partner. The second is an individual interview typically asked of all adult members of the household (aged 16 and over), though excluding 16- to 18-year-olds in full-time higher education.

During the interview the interviewer will collect complete information about the circumstances of the whole household and will ask questions on a range of topics. Depending on your circumstances these may be about, for example, how your household manages financially and your savings, investments and provision for retirement.

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5. How will the information be used?

Government departments use the results of the study to identify how and where they should be using public resources. They use the information to check how different groups in the community are affected by existing policies and to inform future policy changes.

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6. Who is carrying out the study?

The study is being conducted by Office for National Statistics (ONS), the government's largest producer of statistics. We compile independent information about the UK's society and economy, which provides evidence for policy- and decision-making, and for directing resources to where they are needed most. The 10-yearly census, measures of inflation, the national accounts, and population and migration statistics are some of our highest-profile outputs.

The study is being carried out in collaboration with a range of other government departments including the Department for Work and Pensions, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Her Majesty's Treasury, the Scottish Government, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Social Exclusion Task Force.

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7. Will I be paid for taking part?

To reflect the importance we place on your assistance, a gift voucher will be sent to each person interviewed, each time they participate in the study.

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8. Do I have to take part?

Our work is very important and we need your help to make our studies successful. Every year about half a million people help us by taking part in our studies. No-one has to take part if they do not want to, but for us to paint an accurate picture of our society, it is vital that we interview as many people as possible, from all walks of life.

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9. Is the study confidential?

Yes, UK legislation allows us to collect and process your data to produce statistics for the public good.

Your information will be treated as confidential as directed by the Code of Practice for Statistics. It will only be held for as long as it is being used for producing statistics. The statistics produced will not identify you or anyone in your household.

Survey information is also provided to other government departments, approved organisations and approved researchers for statistical purposes only. Details on who can access this information can be found on the approved organisations and government departments page and the approved researchers page. All statistics produced will be subject to the Code and the same standards of protection will be applied to your data at all times.

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10. Why have I been selected?

A sample of households is selected at random from the Royal Mail's Postcode Address File. Once selected, a household cannot be replaced by another as this would affect the representativeness of the sample. This means your participation is very important to the success of this study by ensuring all groups are properly represented.

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

You can read about the commitments ONS makes to those taking part in its studies 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 for more information and the contact details you will need.

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12. Who can I contact for further information?

If you have any queries about taking part in the study please contact us on +44 (0)800 298 5313 or email us at has.contacts@ons.gov.uk. The opening times for the phone line are:

Monday to Thursday 9am to 9pm
Friday 9am to 8pm
Saturday 9am to 1pm

We’d appreciate your suggestions on how we can improve this or any of our studies. It would also be great to hear from you if you’re happy with the service you’ve received.

You can email us at surveyfeedback@ons.gov.uk.

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13. 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:

  • Sending your thank you gift. Our service providers for this are Love2shop and Sodexo.

  • Helping us get in touch. Our service provider for this is Total Mobile.

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