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GAP 5: Use of the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR)

What is the IDBR?

The IDBR is a business register maintained by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and updated using VAT records, PAYE information and ONS surveys. It contains 2.1 million enterprises covering 99% of all UK economic activities. It is widely acknowledged to be the most comprehensive and up-to-date business register available.

What information does it hold?

The IDBR records the employers name, address, industry (SIC), turnover and employment. Information about telephone numbers is not very good. However, through automated matching (which would need to be done by the survey contractors) 80% of business telephone numbers can be found. If you are planning a telephone survey, use of over-sampling will enable you to allow for the 20% unmatched records.

What are the advantages of using the IDBR?

If you use the best register to draw your sample, your results will be more representative and can be reliably assumed to apply to the entire target population.

How do I get samples from the IDBR?

The easiest way to draw a sample from the IDBR is to go through the Survey Control Liaison team. The process to follow is:

  1. Specify the details of your required sample e.g. number of businesses by size, SIC and region to the SCLO. Also provide details of named individuals who will have access to the sample in HSE and within the organisation conducting the survey on our behalf
  2. The SCLO team will then pass these details to ONS along with a description of the survey planned.
  3. ONS will review the scope for the survey, ensuring that it is statistical, and then draw the sample as requested. They will also ask that all the participating organisations sign security and confidentiality agreements.
  4. The sample list will then be supplied to you in an ASCII text file format 3-4 weeks after the initial request

Please note that the SCLO team will retain a list of all the companies in your sample so that we have a central record of all companies being surveyed by HSE at any one time.

Is the IDBR the best register for all HSE business surveys?

There will be some special cases where the IDBR is not the best register. For example, in the construction sector, we have our own Form 10 register. Similarly, in offshore safety where there are a limited number of companies operating, our own records are likely to be more useful.

However, any survey looking to draw from a range of industries would benefit from using the IDBR as a base.

For more information or advice contact the SCLO

Updated 2009-01-06