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Paper 20th October 2005 - TTSAC(05)6


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1. Introduction

1.1 The purpose of this paper is to inform members of the Committee about recent and forthcoming Scottish Household Survey (SHS) developments. Members of the Committee who are (or who may become) users of the SHS are invited to:

  • ask any questions that they may have regarding the changes to the SHS for 2005 and the Review of the survey;
  • note the broad timescale for the remaining Review work;
  • note that they will have an opportunity to suggest possible changes to the SHS questionnaire for 2007 onwards.

1.2 Some other information about the SHS, such as some recent and forthcoming publications of Transport-related results of the survey, is given in paper T&TSAC(05) 7. More information about the survey, including all the SHS publications, can be found on the SHS website: www.scotland.gov.uk/shs.

2. Changes to the SHS for 2005 and 2006

2.1 Members of the Committee will recall being consulted on changes to the SHS Transport-related questions for 2005 and 2006. Frank Dixon's e-mail of 1 April 2004 sought comments on proposals for changes to the existing questions (which would create "space" for new Transport-related questions), suggestions for changes to the current questions, and suggestions for new questions or topics for inclusion in the survey.

2.2 The responses from Committee members and colleagues within the Executive were combined into a set of proposed changes to the Transport-related questions. These were considered by the SHS Technical Group, along with proposals for changes submitted by those who are responsible for other topic areas. A provisional summary list of the changes to the SHS's "Transport" questions was provided as an Annex to paper T&TSAC (04) 7.

2.3 The new questions have been asked since the start of 2005. Unfortunately, it was found that an average interview lasted significantly more than the 45 minutes agreed in the contract. Therefore, the questionnaire had to be cut with effect from July. The only cut to the "Transport" sections was to drop the new questions on Community Transport (because they required much more interview time than had been expected when it was decided to include them).

2.4 Full details of the changes to the questionnaire for 2005 are given in an SHS Technical Report SHS Questionnaire January to December 2005 (which was published in August). The new questions' results for 2005 as a whole will be published next year in the SHS Annual Report and in the Transport Statistics bulletins of SHS results.

3. The Quality Review of the SHS - for 2007 to 2010

3.1 The current contract for the SHS covers interviewing in, producing the datasets for, and reporting the main results for, the years from 2003 to 2006, inclusive. A new contract will be required for 2007 and later years. To inform its decisions on this, the Scottish Executive is conducting a Quality Review of the SHS. The Review will determine the SHS's overall "size" and "shape" for the period of the next contract (probably 2007 to 2010, inclusive).

3.2 The Review is being conducted by a Review Team, and overseen by a Review Board. These include representatives of users, and a survey expert, from outwith the Scottish Executive. Papers describing the scope of the Review, the method of proceeding and the expected timetable are available on the SHS Web site.

3.3 Independent contractors (McCaig Services and Traci Leven Research) were commissioned to obtain the views of users of the SHS. They did so using questionnaires which were distributed by e-mail and on the SHS Web site, and telephone and face-to-face interviews. McCaig and Leven are finalising a report which sets out users' views on the SHS and suggestions for improvements to the survey. This report will be made available on the SHS Web site within the next few weeks. The Scottish Executive will consider how best to develop the SHS in the light of the points made in the McCaig/Leven report, its likely future needs for statistics and other possible developments which may be relevant. Details of the Executive's proposals for changes to the SHS will be put on the Web site, after they have been finalised.

3.4 The next steps are likely to be:

  • late 2005 - SE develops specification for the next SHS contract;
  • early 2006 - SE issues invitations to tender;
  • Spring 2006 - contract awarded;
  • Spring / Summer 2006 - content of questionnaire decided;
  • Autumn 2006 - questionnaire developed and piloted;
  • January 2007 - new questionnaire goes "live".

3.5 There will be a consultation on the details of the questions which will be asked for 2007 onwards. The McCaig/Leven survey obtained some views on the topics which some people felt should be included, but it was not intended to be (and therefore could not serve as) a comprehensive consultation which gathered proposals for new questions and views on detailed points regarding existing questions. When this consultation takes place, details will be sent to:

  • members of the Committee;
  • the TRi/TSUG and ScotStat Transport e-mail lists;
  • the SHS users e-mail list;
  • other interested parties.

Therefore, those Members of the Committee who wish to make the case for the inclusion of particular questions in the survey for 2007 onwards should note that they will have an opportunity to do so within the next six months or so (the timetable for the consultation has not yet been finalised).