English housing survey: guidance for survey users and participating households
The English housing survey is a continuous national survey commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) that collects information about people’s housing circumstances and the condition and energy efficiency of housing in England.
This guide provides and links to a range of information that supports anyone wishing to make use of the survey data to conduct their own analysis or understand in detail how it is run and managed.
It also provides information for households that are asked to take part in the survey.
Questionnaire and physical survey form
We have produced a series of technical advice notes about the survey. These provide detailed information about:
- how the survey data is collected and quality assured
- the sampling and weighting methodology
- how some of the important measures for analysis are derived
- the technical terms used
Other technical advice is available in the documents:
- English housing survey: changes to survey form and questionnaire between 2008 and 2010
- English housing survey 2008 to 2009 onwards: questionnaire
- English housing survey 2008 to 2009: market value survey questionnaire
We have produced a quality report which provides a brief summary of key issues relating to quality that users of the English housing survey outputs need to be aware of. The report is focused on dimensions of quality defined by the European Statistical System as recommended by the Code of Practice for National Statistics:
- accuracy and reliability
- timeliness and punctuality
- accessibility and clarity
- coherence and comparability
The report includes purpose and background of the English housing survey, a brief introduction to methodology, and a summary of work undertaken in 2013 and 2014 to improve the quality of the statistics. Note that the format of this quality report differs from the Technical Advice Note on Data Quality published in previous years (see Technical background), which covered only accuracy quality dimension.
The technical advice notes will be updated in summer 2014 for the 2012 to 2013 survey year and will be consolidated into one Technical Report at this point.
How we engage with users
We are committed to engaging with the wider user community. Our user engagement strategy sets out how DCLG will encourage and promote engagement with the full spectrum of survey users to help ensure the survey meets key information needs in an efficient and effective way.
The English housing survey advisory group is our main forum where key external users and stakeholders provide input to the survey’s development. You can download papers and minutes of the meeting of the advisory group that took place on 5 November 2010.
We also encourage survey users to complete our short survey. This allows us to find out how our information is accessed and used, so that we can better meet survey users’ needs.
In line with DCLG’s statistical revisions policy, the survey team seek to minimise any need for revisions. This is done through detailed cleaning and checking of data collected and validation of the results of further programming of this data that is undertaken to produce key measures for the survey.
Nevertheless, modifications are occasionally made to models which underpin the survey data and errors may occur due to the complexity and scope of the programming, reporting and publication of the results from it. The following steps are taken to correct and notify users of any changes as soon as practical:
- a revisions log is maintained that sets out:
- date of notification and a brief description of any change
- an indication of its impact (what results are affected and by how much for any key results)
- the location of the affected data in any publications
- the action taken to correct results and where this can be found (for any changes to data in reports the correction will usually be located in the errata page for a particular publication) - action will be proportionate to the scale of the revision
all users on the survey mailing list will be notified by email of any significant revisions as they arise on the revisions log
the UK Data Archive will be advised of any changes as they arise affecting deposited data sets and corrected files supplied if appropriate
- an errata page for each report affected by any revisions will be published alongside that report
A wide range of outputs will be available from the English housing survey each year, designed to meet the needs of all our different user groups. Following a 2009 user consultation exercise we have finalised our strategy for the release of outputs. It is set out in detail in the English housing survey: dissemination strategy.
Our main outputs include:
- headline report: in January/February each year
- annual household report: summer/autumn each year
- annual housing stock report: summer/autumn each year
- comprehensive tables
- anonymised public data sets released via the UK Data Archive
- disclosive data sets available via the Virtual Microdata Laboratory
A bespoke analysis service is also available from the Building Research Establishment (see ‘Data sets and bespoke analysis ’ below)
Data sets and bespoke analysis
English housing survey data sets are made available via the UK Data Archive for users who want to undertake secondary analysis using the survey, which is an Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) large-scale data set.
They provide help and support to users wishing to undertake analysis on the survey. This takes the form of a helpdesk, newsletters, help in finding your way through the data set and possibly workshops. Some type of users are charged for this service. The scope of the support service available is currently under discussion and further developments will be communicated via the English housing survey bulletins.
Each year’s data set is released once the main annual reports have been published each year. They are anonymised SPSS data sets with full user technical documentation. All data sets will include grossing weights that users must apply to the data to generate nationally representative results. Any potentially disclosive information is removed and only regional level geographic identifiers included. Checks are undertaken prior to release to avoid the release of disclosive information via for example string variables.
The full household sample data set data (ie all cases where an interview was completed) is released on a single-financial-year basis. The dwelling sub-sample data (ie where both an interview and physical survey were carried out or where a physical survey was conducted at a vacant property) will continue to be released as a 2-year rolling sample.
Variable naming has been retained from former English house condition survey/survey of English housing variables where there has been no significant change to the data collected. We are also proposing to deposit the English housing survey data sets complete with detailed geographic identifiers via the UK Data Archive Secure Data Service which give researchers access to sensitive information in a secure environment so that confidentiality requirements are met. The disclosive data set would only be available to approved researchers who have agreed to abide by strict disclosure control principles. We will keep users informed via the English housing survey bulletins.
The Building Research Establishment provides a service by which non-government users can commission customised analysis of the survey data. They have extensive expertise of the survey and are able to advise on how it could help meet your particular requirements. There is a charge for this service ie. a typical piece of analysis taking half a day would cost in the region of £300.
For further details please contact Helen Garrett: Email:GarrettH@bre.co.uk
Tel: 01923 664544
Information for households selected for the survey
If you have been selected to take part in the English housing survey we very much hope that you will agree to take part.
Your household will have been selected at random to take part in this important survey and once chosen cannot be replaced with another. This way we can be sure we collect information on a true cross section of households and properties.
The leaflets below set out more information about how the survey data is used and how your responses will be treated in confidence.
All respondents taking part in the English housing survey are given an assurance by DCLG and its contractor team that the information they provide will be handled in the strictest confidence as directed by the ‘Code of practice for official statistics’. We undertake to ensure that the survey information will be used to produce anonymous statistics for decision making in government and for genuine research purposes only.
We have set out the steps we take to ensure respondent anonymity while still maximising the utility of the statistics for users, in our data security strategy. This document explains how data are handled and steps we take to prevent any intentional or unintentional disclosure of information that would enable individual households to be identified.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change contribute funding to and are joint data controllers of the English housing survey. A ‘Memorandum of understanding in relation to data sharing’ sets out the procedures that will be followed and the safeguards that have been put into place to ensure that the data shared between the 2 organisations are kept secure and are not disseminated in any way that might reveal private information on survey respondents.
If you would like further information about the English housing survey or would like to be added to our newsletter mailing list please contact:
Tel: 0303 444 1112
English housing survey project management