Consultation on the design of the Scottish Household Survey (SHS) for 2017 and beyond

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. The Scottish Government is consulting on a number of options to achieve the required level of savings for SHS 2017. Respondents' views will also be used to inform the design of SHS 2018-2021.

Background and value of the SHS

Every National Government needs unbiased and reliable information about how their country is performing across a range of areas. The annual Scottish Household Survey (SHS) provides not only detailed national level data on people in Scotland, but also local authority level data too.

The survey has run since 1999 and provides a unique source of essential trend data and evidence for a wide range of policy areas. These include housing, transport, local government services, health and physical activity, neighbourhoods and communities, the local environment and sport and culture.

The SHS directly measures almost one fifth of the National Indicators in Scotland Performs (10 out of 55 National Indicators) and contributes significantly to a number of other published national and local outcome indicator frameworks which are important for tracking performance. This includes half of the Housing & Regeneration Outcome Indicators, over a quarter of the 37 indicators that monitor the Child Poverty Strategy for Scotland, and 8 indicators in the Improvement Service's Local Government Benchmarking Framework.

Alongside the other (then) three major Scottish Government population surveys, the SHS went through a major strategic review in 2010 as part of the Scottish Government's Long Term Survey Strategy. This review resulted in the Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS) becoming part of the SHS, and the creation of the Scottish Surveys Core Questions (SSCQ). The SSCQ maximises data utilisation across the main population surveys through the use of common core questions which enables more detailed equalities breakdowns at national and local authority level.

As well as providing a substantial contribution towards the SSCQ, the SHS produces 6 major and unique statistical outputs on an annual basis, all of which are used to inform and monitor policies and programmes at a local and national level. These publications are:

SHS data is also regularly used in a range of Scottish Government published research reports.

The current SHS consists of a one hour 'social survey' interview, with an overall target sample size of around 10,700 households, and a one hour 'physical survey', i.e. surveyor led inspection of dwellings, with approximately one third of the sample (3,000) which forms the SHCS. The social survey is split into an interview with the householder (highest income householder or partner) and an interview with a 'random adult' who lives in the household. The random adult sample size is around 90% of the household sample size.

The Travel Diary component of the SHS, asked in the random adult section, is a unique data source on personal travel patterns within Scotland and underpins analysis of future transport needs and business cases for national and local transport infrastructure. The physical survey, alongside the social survey questions, provides the only source of data on fuel poverty in Scotland via the SHCS.

Most of the topics in the SHS are asked on an annual basis of the full sample. However, there are a number of topics where the questions are asked on either a biennial basis and/or of a one third sample (see Annex A for an overview of topics, sample sizes and frequency).

The SHS is used by a variety of other public bodies and stakeholders, including the third sector and academics, for a range of uses. The Scottish Government wishes to gather all users' views on the options under consideration for SHS 2017. These views will also inform thinking on the design for SHS 2018 - 2021 (future procurement subject to agreement by Ministers).


Email: Pat Cairns

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