The ONS’ BICS is a voluntary fortnightly business survey, which captures businesses’ responses on how their turnover, workforce, prices, trade and business resilience have been affected by current conditions.
BICS stands for the Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS) – previous to Wave 24, the survey was called "Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey". The BICS was renamed to reflect the current question set, which goes wider than the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The questions for each wave are published by the ONS.
Currently, the main Scottish BICS results published by the Office for National Statistics are unweighted which means that we can only make inferences about the businesses that have responded. Weighting the BICS responses enables us to produce estimates for Scottish businesses more generally, not just those that have responded. The ONS has provided the Scottish Government with the BICS microdata, which we have used to develop the weighted Scotland estimates. More information on the weighting method we have used for these estimates is provided here: BICS weighted Scotland estimates: data to wave 12.
The weighted Scotland estimates, in this publication, are for businesses with 10 or more employees. The weighted Scotland estimates are for businesses that have a presence in Scotland, as opposed to only those businesses headquartered in Scotland. Having a presence in Scotland means that the business has a local unit or site (e.g. shop, office, factory) in Scotland. In terms of the base of the estimates, 8,912 businesses responded to the Wave 60 BICS UK-wide (9,286 businesses in Wave 61). In Wave 60, 1,131 of these businesses had a presence in Scotland (1,167 businesses in Wave 61). Excluding the micro businesses (those with less than 10 employees) takes the base for the weighted Scotland estimates down to 1,017 responding businesses in Wave 60, and 1,055 responding businesses in Wave 61. The weighted Scotland estimates are derived from results collected from UK businesses for the UK as a whole, but weighted by business counts or employment in Scotland - no account is being made for regional differences between business sites.
Note that on the 26th of July 2022 ONS published Business insights and impact on the UK subnational single-site economy - Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk) – this provides an analysis of weighted data for areas within the UK (including Scotland). This latest ONS sub-national analysis focusses on single-site businesses. This differs to the approach taken for the Scottish Government estimates presented here which include single-site and multi-site businesses together, and the Scottish Government estimates are constrained to businesses with 10 or more employees.
The coverage of the ONS BICS includes most sectors of the Scottish economy; however, the public sector is excluded, as is ‘Section A – Agriculture, forestry & fishing’, ‘Section D – Electricity, gas, steam & air conditioning supply’ and ‘Section K – Financial & insurance activities’.
Please note, from Wave 54, ONS have rationalised the number of questions asked each wave and references to "normal expectations" have been replaced with a defined reference period for businesses to compare against. Please find further details of these changes within the blog: Times they are a-changing: and with them, two key ONS surveys.
For enquiries about this publication please contact:
Business & Innovation Statistics
Office of the Chief Economic Adviser
For general enquiries about Scottish Government statistics please contact:
Office of the Chief Statistician
Telephone: 0131 244 0442
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