Guidance

English housing survey: guidance and methodology

Information for anyone wishing to make use of English housing survey data to conduct their own analysis or to understand how the survey's run and managed.

About the English housing survey

The English housing survey (EHS) is a continuous national survey commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). It collects information about people’s housing circumstances and the housing stock in England.

In April 2008 the English housing survey was created by merging the English house condition survey with the survey of English housing. Information about these former surveys can be found on the National Archive.

The English housing survey covers all housing tenures and provides valuable information and evidence to inform the development and monitoring of DCLG’s housing policies. Results from it are also used by a wide range of other users in the public and private sectors.

The survey has 2 main components. Each year, around 13,300 households take part in the face-to-face interview survey. About 6,000 of the participating households also take part in the physical survey.

The physical surveys are carried out by a qualified surveyor and involve a visual inspection of the property. During a physical survey, the surveyor carries out an internal and external assessment of the property. Physical surveys are also carried out on about 200 vacant properties.

In March 2016, a new contract for the survey years 2016 to 2017, 2017 to 2018 and 2018 to 2019 was awarded to a consortium formed by NatCen Social Research, CADS Housing Surveys and the Building Research Establishment.

How are the data used?

The government uses the results from the survey to gain a better knowledge and understanding of housing and associated issues affecting householders in England. In particular, data are used to:

  • inform and monitor the development of housing policy
  • monitor the condition and energy efficiency of the English housing stock
  • help target policies and resources to where they are most needed

Questionnaire and physical survey form

You can download the questionnaire used for the household interview and the physical survey form used by the surveyors to record the physical condition of the properties inspected.

Questionnaire

In order to maintain consistency over time, each year, the questionnaire retains a core set of questions on the following topics:

  • household composition, ethnicity, nationality, economic status, education and health
  • household accommodation and length of residence
  • housing history and aspirations
  • rent and mortgage payments
  • satisfaction with landlord/attitudes to neighbourhood
  • income

The questionnaire also contains a number of rotating question sets which come in and out of the survey on an annual or biennial basis. Topics covered in these modules include:

  • second homes
  • fire and fire safety
  • satisfaction with the neighbourhood
  • work undertaken to improve energy efficiency of the home
  • adaptations made to the home to improve accessibility
  • tenancy deposits

The rest of the questionnaire content is reviewed annually in consultation with survey users to ensure it meets their needs.

Physical survey form

The physical survey provides key measures relating to decent homes, energy efficiency, quality of local environments and the housing health and safety rating system. The scope and approach of the physical survey draw heavily on the inspections carried out as part of the English house conditions survey.

Technical background 


Each year we publish a technical report which provides detailed information about:

  • the data collection and quality assurance processes
  • the sampling and weighting methodology
  • the derivation of important survey measures
  • the main technical terms and definitions

Prior to 2012 to 2013, this technical information was published in a series of technical advice notes.

Data quality

Each year we publish 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 focuses on the dimensions of quality defined by the European Statistical System as recommended by the Code of Practice for Official Statistics:

  • relevance
  • accuracy and reliability
  • timeliness and punctuality
  • accessibility and clarity
  • coherence and comparability

User engagement

We are committed to engaging with the wider user community, and welcome views from our users on all aspects of the survey.

Each year, we conduct a review of data collection and reporting priorities with key DCLG and BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) users. Any changes to the questionnaire or physical survey are signed off at the annual English housing survey user group meeting in November. The group also signs off the annual reporting strategy.

Methodological changes are developed in consultation with our independent technical advisory group and, if required, piloted before being implemented.

In line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics, major changes are consulted on more widely. The most recent public consultation on the English Housing Survey took place in January 2015. The government response to that consultation is available on Gov.uk.

Revisions policy


In line with DCLG’s statistical revisions policy, we seek to minimise the need for revisions. This is done through detailed cleaning, checking and validation of the data and results.

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:

  1. a revisions log is maintained that describes the error, its impact and action taken to correct it
  2. all users on the survey mailing list are notified by email of any significant changes
  3. the UK Data Archive are advised of any changes that affect deposited data sets and, if necessary, are supplied with corrected files
  4. an errata page for each report affected by any revisions is published alongside that report

English housing survey: revisions log August 2016

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Dissemination strategy


A wide range of English housing survey outputs are made available each year, designed to meet the needs of all our different user groups.

Our main outputs include:

  • a headline report published in January/February
  • annual reports published in summer/autumn
  • web tables
  • data sets released via the UK Data Service

Further information

If you would like further information about the English housing survey or would like to be added to our mailing list please contact:

email: ehs@communities.gsi.gov.uk

Tel: 0303 444 0000

English housing survey project management
Department for Communities and Local Government
4th floor SW, Fry Building
2 Marsham Street
London
SW1P 4DF