Publication - Consultation analysis

Scottish household survey 2017: consultation responses analysis

Published: 19 Aug 2016
Housing and Social Justice Directorate
Part of:
Communities and third sector

An analysis of responses to the Scottish Household Survey 2017 and beyond consultation.

57 page PDF

737.7 kB

57 page PDF

737.7 kB

Scottish household survey 2017: consultation responses analysis

57 page PDF

737.7 kB


Introduction and background to the consultation

This report provides a summary of responses to the Scottish Government's consultation on the SHS . As part of Scotland's Spending Plans and Budget for 2016/17, the Scottish Government requires to make savings on the Scottish Household Survey ( SHS) 2017. Savings of the level sought cannot be achieved without significant changes to the design of the SHS. Therefore, the Scottish Government sought users and stakeholders' views on two alternative options:

Option A Biennial topics, i.e. halving the number of topics covered by the survey every year and collecting data on each topic every second year, with a small reduction in sample size (from 10,700 to 10,100).

Option B Reduction of the overall survey sample size by around a third, from 10,700 to 7,450, with a small reduction in topics covered by the survey.

Both options would realise the same level of cost savings. The consultation document stated that responses would be used to inform the design of the survey for both SHS 2017 and SHS 2018-2021 (subject to sign off of procurement by Scottish Ministers).

The consultation was launched on 15 th March and closed on 19 th April (5 week consultation period) through a publication on the Scottish Government's website. Further background on the SHS, the main impacts of the options, and alternative options considered are given in the consultation document. The questions asked in the consultation are listed in Annex A.

For ease of reference, Table 1-1 provides an overview of the main characteristics of both options.

Table 1-1: Options A and B overview



National sample size and frequency

Local sample size and frequency

Option A

Biennial Topics

Collect half of the topics in odd year (2017), half of the topics in even year

Key household and random adult 'protected' questions (including Scottish Survey Core Questions ( SSCQ) unchanged on an annual basis

Maintain sample size at over 10,000 households for full sample topics.

'One third sample topics' maintain one third of full sample size (i.e. 3,350)

Reduce frequency of data collection for most topics

Retain all topic coverage, albeit every two years for most topics

Largely unchanged sample size and precision albeit every other year for most topics

Difficulties in combining two years' worth of data for detailed sub-group analysis due to combining non-consecutive years (a particular issue for 'one third sample' topics')

LA data published annually albeit every other year for most topics

Key household and random adult data published annually

Largely unchanged sample size for LAs

Same issue of combining non-consecutive years for some sub-group analysis

Option B

Reduce sample size by around one third (to 7,450)

All topics have 7,450 sample size except current 'one third sample' questions which slightly increase their sample size to 3,700 (from current 3,550)

Reduce sample size for full sample topics

'One third sample topics' maintain similar sample size (i.e. 3,700)

Maintain frequency of data collection

Small reduction in topic coverage -

around 4 minutes - or equivalent reduction in frequency or sample size to achieve the same time-savings

Reduced annual sample size and precision of results

If necessary combine data from 2 years to have sufficient sample sizes for detailed sub-group analysis

Reduced sample size for local authorities means publication of annual data no longer possible.

LA data published annually but on two year rolling average basis

Two year rolling averages at improved precision than current annual estimates

Consultation length and mode

Responses were gathered through the Scottish Government's website (Citizen Space platform), although respondents had the option of responding by email and/or by sending in hard copy responses. These responses were then loaded on to the Citizen Space platform. Full responses (where people gave permission to publish) can be accessed here.

Promotion of the consultation

The consultation was widely promoted in order to alert as many interested parties as possible. A combination of:

  • direct emails to lead analysts and all known users of SHS data;
  • issuing a ScotStat notice;
  • contacting local authority Chief Executives and Community Planning Partnership Managers by letter; and
  • 'tweeting' via the ScotStat Twitter account were used.

In total, 273 different organisations were contacted directly and 2,287 individuals were contacted either directly or via ScotStat [1] (see Table 1-2).

Table 1-2: Total number of organisations and individuals contacted by each method



Direct e-mail or letter



Central Government



Local government



Other pub sector (inc. NHS and Parliament)



Third sector (inc. Higher/further education)



Private sector






ScotStat e-mail






Responses and respondents

Ninety-nine responses were received to the consultation. The vast majority of these were directly through Citizen Space, the Scottish Government's consultation portal. Eighteen responses were received by email using the format for the consultation questions supplied in Annex B of the consultation documents. These responses were entered on to the Citizen Space system in line with standard SG guidance.

Eight responses were received as letters, so called 'free text' responses. These responses did not directly answer the questions posed in the consultation. These were uploaded to Citizen Space as letters and are published as such on the system. Details of how these responses were treated for analysis purposes is described below.

Table 1-3: Respondents to the consultation by sector - numbers and percentage of total number of organisations contacted



Share of responses

Central Government



Local government



Other public sector including NHS and Parliament



Third sector (including HE/ FE)



Other (including students)





100 %

As shown in table 1-3, local government and the third sector (including HE/ FE) formed the greatest share of consultation responses with 34 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively. In all, 24 out of 32 local authorities ( LAs) responded to the consultation. It should be noted that there were three local authorities ( LAs) where more than one response was received, mostly from different parts of the council. Aberdeen City, Perth & Kinross and East Dunbartonshire councils submitted two separate responses, whilst South Lanarkshire Council submitted a response, as did South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture, a separate organisation. Similarly, Clydeplan, the operating name for the Glasgow and Clyde ValleytStrategic Development Planning Authority Jointt Committee submitted a response [2] .

Analysis of responses

Eight letter or 'free text' responses were closely reviewed and sections of their responses which related to particular questions were analysed with the main body of responses to these questions, primarily questions 2 to 6 and question 13. However, these 'free text' responses did not address the other questions in the consultation and this is the reason for the lower overall response rate to these questions.

The 'free text' responses also gave rise to a particular issue with question 6(i) on option preferences. Citizen Space and the proforma in the consultation document had asked people to state a preference between option A and B. However, some of the 'free text' responses stated that they did not like either option which led to the creation of another category of 'neither option'. Chapter 3 describes in more detail how these and other responses which did not directly answer question 6(i) were handled.

It should also be noted that questions asked in the consultation were a mix of closed (quantitative) and open (qualitative) responses. Responses were analysed on a question by question basis, split across the analytical team. Qualitative responses were analysed for themes and sub-themes and were coded by sector in order to identify any sectoral response patterns.

It is not advisable to calculate exact numbers of people with a particular view based on responses to qualitative questions, especially when responses have been analysed on a question by question basis. Nevertheless, where there has been sufficient confidence to indicate an approximate number of responses, these are expressed as 'around one in X number of respondents', with the denominator based on the number of respondents to that particular question.