In line with National Statistics Best Practice, the Scottish Household Survey is reviewed every two years to ensure that the information collected is relevant to current policy interests and is making the best use of the time in the survey. The survey is regularly reviewed through consultation with external users and internal analysts.
This section provides an overview of the SHS Survey Review 2010 project, conducted throughout 2010 and 2011 with a view to informing survey development priorities for 2012 onwards.
What is the review focus on?
The SHS Survey Review 2010 project was set up to assess the operation of, and uses made, of the survey with the primary aim of assessing the achieved benefits, quality and continued need for the survey and to maximise the benefits through appropriate question and topic content.
The review focused on the following key areas:
- Purpose of the survey
- Alignment with broader analytical work within and beyond Scottish Government
- Topic coverage
- Survey design
- Project ownership and management
Who is managing the review process?
The SHS Project Team, based in Communities Analytical Services in the Scottish Government, have responsibility for the day-to-day to management of the SHS. This is in turn supported by the SHS Lead Analysts Network, comprised of analysts within government who have topic expertise on each of the subject areas within the SHS.
The majority of work was undertaken by the SHS Project Team, with progress being overseen by the newly set up SHS Steering Group. This group comprises wide-coverage of analysts and policy representation from across the Scottish Government, along with external representation from bodies such as the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe), Local Authorities Research and Intelligence (LARIA) and the Improvement Service.
What did the review entail?
The core elements of the first phase of the review project ran from December 2009 through to the summer of 2010, with the key stages including:
- Web-based stakeholder consultation
- Stakeholder interviews
- Focus groups
This gathered together views and opinions of users and stakeholders around the uses and future priorities of the survey. The results of these exercises were considered by the SHS Steering Group who, in response, approved in principle that the SHS move to a fully core and modular structure so as to better meet the wide array of demands on the survey.
This in turn fed in to a scoping exercise to identify whether a core and modular design was feasible, and what the likely topic content would be.
The SHS Steering Group commissioned the Office of the Chief Statistician in the Scottish Government to explore the details of how a core and modular approach could work in practice. This work was based on identifying the content and scope of modules as being based on the priority of data needs rather than historic funding arrangements of the SHS. This included consideration of integrating the Scottish House Condition Survey, with the 'social survey' component integrating in to the main SHS and the 'physical survey' component becoming a follow-up module.
Analytical Service Divisions in the Scottish Government were tasked with liaising with their own internal and external stakeholders and provide prioritised bids for SHS content.
A sufficiently high number of questions were either not requested for continued inclusion (and so were recommended for removal) or were requested for part inclusion only (and so can be modularised) to render detailed analysis and challenge of respective priorities unnecessary at this stage of scoping a potential core and modular design.
The final phase of the review project is ongoing throughout 2011 to finalise the question content. Again, this has involved liaison with Analytical Service Divisions, and in some cases has involved follow-up consultation acitivties such as those done by Transport Scotland.
What does a core and modular survey entail?
Topics recommended for inclusion, above and beyond the Core Questions (for inclusion in all SG surveys) are:
- Household and householder characteristics
- Transport & travel, including travel diary, fuel use, use of public transport
- Income, mortgage, rent, children's material deprivation
- Housing, including tenure, previous accommodation, housing lists
- Perceptions of neighbourhood, including greenspace and children's safety
- Volunteering behaviour
- Satisfaction with local services
- Internet use
- Recycling behaviour
- Attitudes toward energy efficiency, climate change
- *Social mobility
- *Household expenditure (beyond mortgage and rent)
The three topics proceeded with a star* were suggested for addition without details of how many questions would be required to cover them sufficiently. These topics were tentatively recommended for inclusion if they can be covered sufficiently and robustly with a few minutes of questions, or if they need longer they can be shown to be of sufficient priority to remove other questions.
Two topics, household formation and housing preparation for older living, were also suggested for addition without details of how many questions would be required to cover them sufficiently. These topics were not recommended for inclusion, in order to allow adequate space in the survey for priority content from the SHCS.
The items not requested for retention in the survey, in some cases being explicitly recommended for removal, cover:
- Some transport & travel items including motorbikes, vehicle storage, opinions about Traffic Scotland
- Detailed employment information (better collected through the Labour Force Survey)
- Children's schools - which school child attends and opinions about it
- Health and social care (better collected through the Health survey)
- Housing adaptations
- Neighbourhood likes and dislikes
- Antisocial behaviour (better collected through the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey)
All items requested for retention or addition to the survey were sorted according to the level of coverage (national, urban/rural, 15% SIMD/other, Local Authority) and frequency (annual, biennial, or less) that was requested. The majority of content was requested for national, local authority level coverage (or national coverage requiring full sample in order to collect sufficient cases of relatively rare event, such as travel by plane). However a sufficient number of items were requested at a lesser frequency or geography to allow for a core and modular structure.
How can I get involved?
One of the first parts of the review project was a web-based survey which asked people about their experiences of using the SHS, how well it meets their needs and how they think it could be improved. This survey is now closed.
A number of focus groups and interviews with users and stakeholders to discuss in more detail survey development priorities and opportunities were also ran.
Analytical Services Divisions across the Scottish Government Statistician Group consult with users and stakeholders via ScotStat and other ways, to continuously stay aware of data needs and priorities. Any topic specific queries or requests for consideration of data needs should be directed through them.
What were the outcomes of the review?
A summary report of all the key processes and outcomes from the review project is currently being written up and will be available via this website shortly. This report will bring together all elements of the survey review project, though we would be happy to share draft versions as they stand.
A summary report on progress was published in April 2011, providing a broad-based summary of the SHS 2012 development work, which has been underpinned by the SHS Review 2010 project which was undertaken to scope the requirements for the SHS from 2012 onwards. This includes consideration of the multi-layered consultation activities undertaken in 2010 to identify the key priorities amongst users and stakeholders and identification of how these align against wider Scottish Government analytical priorities such as the Long Term Strategy for Population Surveys in Scotland 2009-2019.
You may also be interested in finding out information on the Long Term Strategy for Population Surveys in Scotland, with the SHS review project sitting as part of that. Further information is available from the Population Surveys in Scotland web section.
Should you wish to find out any more details in the meantime or discuss anything related to survey development then please contact the SHS Project Team.
If you wish to submit any other comments in the meantime then please simply Contact us.