1. How to take part

Start now

To begin the study, please click “Start Now”, then enter your personal access code.

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 study

What is this study about?

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is carrying out this important study, which covers a range of topics. These include information about you and your household, your health and employment. This study will also ask you questions about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and how you and others have been affected by the pandemic.

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3. Why should I take part?

This study will help medical experts and the UK government understand the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the lives of people in Great Britain.

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:

  • information about you and your household
  • your health
  • employment
  • the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on your life

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 you 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 this UK-wide online 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/lifestyle. When asked, enter the personal access code that appears on your letter.

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

When do I need to complete the study by?

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

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11. Questions about taking part

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

The personal 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/lifestyle 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, return to the study login page at www.ons.gov.uk/lifestyle. Sign in with the same personal 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?

Individuals 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 another language?

Currently, the study is only available in English. If you wish to complete in Welsh, please call our Survey Enquiry Line on 0800 085 7376.

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.

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 personal 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 personal access code that you submitted your answers with. If you have successfully submitted your answers, 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.

Your address was randomly selected to take part in a previous study. Upon completion of this study, you supplied your contact details to us for potential participation in future studies. 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.

You have been selected to take part in this study, we cannot ask another individual 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 personal access code is unique to you only. Please keep your code safe. Once you have submitted a completed study, the answers can no longer be accessed using your personal 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 you provide will not identify you or your household and will be deleted upon completion of the project in 2025.

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 (0)800 085 7376.

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

Monday to Thursday – 9:00am to 9:00pm
Friday – 9:00am to 8:00pm
Saturday – 9:00am to 1:00pm

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:

  • sending a thank you gift: our service provider for this is Sodexo
  • Helping us get in touch with you. Our service providers for this are APS and NISRA.
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