Scottish household survey 2017: key findings

This short report summarises the key findings from the Scottish Household Survey 2017.


What is the Scottish Household Survey?

The Scottish Household Survey ( SHS) is a continuous survey based on a random sample of the general population in private residences in Scotland. Questions are asked face-to-face by an interviewer in homes all over Scotland. Participation is voluntary, but it is important in helping us make representative estimates for Scotland.

The survey started in 1999 and is essentially three surveys in one; Transport and Travel in Scotland survey, the Scottish House Condition Survey as well as the SHS. It covers a wide range of topics to allow links to be made between different policy areas.

What is involved for those who take part?

Each home selected to take part receives an advance letter and leaflet in the post explaining that an interviewer from Ipsos MORI will call.

About a third of households are randomly selected to take part in Scottish House Condition Survey, which normally takes place shortly after the interview, at a convenient time selected by the householder. This non-intrusive survey is completed by a qualified surveyor who will assess the condition and energy efficiency of the selected homes.

Why is it important?

It is a unique chance for people in Scotland to tell about their views and experiences on a range of issues and to shape each local area and Scotland as a whole. Since its beginning in 1999, it has helped shape various public services over that time.

At national and local level, analysis of SHS data is also used to identify which people or areas need funding most, including in transport and housing. For example, Scottish Government analysis of SHS data identified lower internet access by those living in social housing. Up until then it had been thought that access to the internet was lowest by those that rented from private landlords. Knowing the facts meant that funding could be correctly targeted at social housing tenants in order to provide affordable broadband access and training. So far there has been a 19% increase in the number of social housing tenants online.


The Scottish Household Survey report is produced under the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. National Statistics are produced free of political interference, to agreed standards, and undergo regular quality assurance reviews.

For more information, visit

What does it provide?

The survey provides robust evidence on the composition, characteristics, attitudes and behaviour of private households and individuals as well as evidence on the physical condition of Scotland’s homes.

The current scale of the SHS enables all users to obtain a robust deeper understanding of issues and performance, by being able to analyse across key demographic household characteristics such as deprivation, age, income, gender, rurality, ethnicity and other equalities. This is crucial to informing the Fairer Scotland agenda.

What is the SHS used for?

Scotland’s largest random pre-selected survey is at the centre of Scotland’s evidence approach to policy-making. This is some of the ways in which the evidence it provides is used:

  • Housing data is used to determine the size of the Private Rented Sector in Scotland and is a crucial element of National Records of Scotland ( NRS) Household Projections, which Local Authorities use at the core of their Housing Plans. Affordable Housing Funding is allocated using these projections.
  • Much of data is used for key performance monitoring frameworks, including: 13 out of 80 of Scotland Performs indicators, half of the Housing & Regeneration Outcome Indicators, over half of Active Scotland Outcome Indicators, and over a quarter of the Child Poverty Measurement Framework Indicators.
  • It is the only source of Fuel Poverty evidence and the only nationally representative source of data on energy efficiency, house conditions and quality. This evidence is used extensively in the design, targeting and funding allocations for SG energy efficiency programmes ( SEEP).
  • The Travel Diary component of the SHS is a unique data source on personal travel patterns, which underpins analysis of future transport needs and economic business cases for national and local transport infrastructure investment projects.
  • Transport and Housing Energy Efficiency data are crucial for monitoring carbon emissions, informing Climate Change policies and progress.
  • All Local Authorities in Scotland use the data in their Single Outcome Agreements; the Improvement Service use data for the Local Government Benchmarking Framework; Community Planning Partnerships to understand and improve local needs and circumstances.
  • There is particular interest in SHS local data on communities, local services, neighbourhoods, volunteering, recycling and access to outdoors and greenspace.

The SHS collects and publishes a wide array of information, a list of key resources can be found at Key Resorces.

Survey Design

The survey uses a fully un-clustered core and modular structure; some questions are asked of the full sample and others of a one-third sub-sample, the visual representation of this structure is provided below. This includes a “core” set of 20 questions – the SHS is pooled together with the Scottish Health and Crime and Justice surveys to create a large Scottish Surveys Core Questions ( SSCQ) sample.

The overall sample size is nearly 11,000 households, with local authority estimates available on an annual basis.

The social questionnaire is in two parts:

  • Household – completed by the highest income householder or their partner
  • Random Adult (including ‘Travel Diary’) – completed by one of the adults in the household, selected randomly by a computer.

The full list of topics covered in both sections can be viewed on our website.

Further information on the questionnaire structure and the sample design can be found in the Technical report and the full SHS Questionnaire.

Representation of multi-year core and modular design

Chart: Representation of multi-year core and modular design

2,330,000 households and 4,290,000 adults across Scotland were eligible to take part in the survey

Around 18,000 households were randomly selected

10,680 households, 9,810 adults participated

Overall responserate was 64%

For further technical information, including how response rate is calculated, see the Technical report


Email: Emma McCallum

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