Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

You may have some questions about the survey. Please read the answers to these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to understand more.

Background to the survey

Participation in the Survey

Background to the survey

What is this survey about?

The Scottish Household Survey (SHS) is designed to help the Scottish Government and other bodies to plan services and policies for Scotland. To do this we need accurate, up-to-date information about the characteristics, attitudes and behaviour of people living in Scotland. The survey covers lots of topics, including what kind of housing you live in and who lives with you, what you do for a living, how you travel, your health, levels of education, how you feel about the area in which you live and the local services available to you.

Who is doing the survey?

Ipsos MORI Scotland have been contracted to do the survey, on behalf of the Scottish Government.

What does the survey cover?

The survey covers a wide range of topics relating to the composition, characteristics, behaviour and attitudes of Scottish households and adults. These include views on local government, neighbourhoods, transport, volunteering, housing experiences and aspirations, health and disability, and questions on culture and sport.

Key questions, providing standard information about the composition and key characteristics of households, remain largely unchanged over time. However, the continuous nature of the survey and its modular design permits some flexibility, and the questionnaire has evolved over time. The survey also provides a base from which to commission more detailed follow-up surveys of sub-samples of the households in the survey.

From January 2012 a set of 20 core questions has been asked in all Scottish Government cross-sectional surveys. In addition, where two or more surveys ask questions on the same topic, wording has been harmonised. Further information on the Scottish Government survey strategy (including the core and harmonised questions) is available on the Population Surveys in Scotland web page.

Further details can be found at https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/About/Surveys/SSCQ

Are the findings published?

Yes. All annual reports and publications are available from the SHS web site. The two main releases are the Annual Report and the Local Authority Tables. The Annual Report is the first release of the data and this contains key analysis from the survey at Scotland level. The Local Authority tables reproduce the tables and charts from the Annual Report at Local Authority level.

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Participation in the Survey

Do I have to take part?

No. If you receive a selection letter but don't want to take part, please telephone 0808 238 5456 (freephone) and your name will be taken off the interview list. However, we are keen that as many people as possible take part so that the interviews are representative of everyone in Scotland, not just certain groups of people.

How long does the interview take?

Interview length varies depending on your answers, and whether you take part in the household or random adult part of the questionnaire or both. The householder survey takes 20-25 minutes and the chosen adult part takes around 35-40 minutes.

Will the questions be very personal?

Most people don't find the questions too personal, but if you do feel uncomfortable with the questions being asked, you don't have to give an answer.

What happens to the information I give?

It will be combined with the information from all the other interviews carried out, to create statistics about the features of Scottish households. These will be used in lots of ways by local councils, the Scottish Government and other agencies (e.g. charities, in academic research etc). It will be anonymous (i.e. no-one will be able to identify you from your answers) and will remain confidential.

Is it confidential?

Confidentiality is assured. The survey is undertaken by professional interviewers from Ipsos MORI who all carry an official identification card.

The survey is strictly confidential. Your information is handled in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics procedures and the 2018 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Survey data is sometimes provided to other approved organisations for genuine research purposes only (never market research).

The same standards of protection are applied to your information at all times. Data will only ever be used to produce statistics that will not identify you or anyone in your household.

This research will comply with the Market Research Society code of conduct.

Why is it that only I have received a letter in my neighbourhood?

We want to get a picture of people living all over Scotland, so we have to interview people in a wide variety of locations to try and make the survey representative. This means that only a small number of people will be interviewed in each area.

What time do the interviewers usually visit?

Interviews are normally undertaken in people’s home. However, due to COVID-19, all interviewing is currently being undertaken by telephone of a one-way video call, where you can see the interviewer, but the interviewer cannot see you. Interviews can be arranged at any time that is suitable to you.

Can I be interviewed outside working hours?

Yes, interviews can be arranged for evenings and at weekends.

Do the interviewers carry identification?

Yes. All interviewers have identification cards. If you would like to be interviewed by video, they will show you their identification card. If you are interviewed by telephone, the interviewer will tell you their interviewer number and you can call 0808 238 5456 (freephone) to check the identity of interviewers.

Can I access the data collected by the SHS?

Yes. Details on how to access the data can be found on the Scottish Government’s web site: https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-household-survey-frequently-asked-questions/pages/accessing-data-faq/

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