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GAP 5: Control of statistical surveys

HSE is subject to procedures to limit the costs imposed by Government surveys on business and local authorities and to improve their statistical quality. These derive from instructions issued by the Prime Minister; a note from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) gives further information. This GAP sets out the steps which must be followed by HSE staff planning to conduct or commission such surveys.

Step 1: Deciding if a survey is in scope of the procedures

Surveys are in scope of survey control if they

Examples of surveys not in scope are

If in doubt, please contact HSE’s Survey Control Liaison Officer (SCLO) team – see under Contacts.

Step 2: Following good survey practice

As well as minimising the costs imposed on business, the survey control procedures aim to boost the statistical quality of surveys and so maximise their benefit to HSE. This is achieved by following good practice in designing, conducting and disseminating the results of the surveys.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has set out some guiding principles of good survey practice. Project Officers and others should consider these at as early a stage as possible in the research planning process. Particular consideration should be given to using the Inter-Department Business Register (IDBR) for drawing samples.   The IDBR is the most comprehensive and up-to-date business register available.  Widespread use of this register in HSE would ensure that we are doing all we can to minimise the burden on small businesses and, at the same time, ensure that our surveys are based on the highest quality information.  To make the process of using the IDBR more straightforward, the Survey Control Liaison team can act as intermediaries between Project Officers and the ONS for drawing samples. For more information please see our guide to using the IDBR.

Step 3: Completing the survey control notification form

The survey control form SC1 [50KB] is designed to collect the minimum amount of information necessary for

For further guidance on any aspect of the form, please contact the SCLO team – see under Contacts.

Step 4: Calculating the estimated compliance costs

The compliance cost is calculated essentially by multiplying the number of individual respondents by the time each of them will take to respond, costed at a hourly rate depending on their management level (the hourly rates are updated annually by ONS) and making allowance for non-response. An Excel spreadsheet performs the cost compliance calculations automatically ; instructions are included within the spreadsheet.

Step 4a (if cost > £10,000): Endorsement at Senior Civil Service level

If the compliance costs are above a certain threshold, the survey must be cleared at Senior Civil Service (SCS) level, normally by the Band 0 in the client Division. This threshold was reviewed and raised to £10,000 with effect from 1 April 2004. Surveys above the threshold must also be cleared by HSE’s Chief Statistician (see Step 6a).

Step 5: Submission to Survey Control Liaison Officer (SCLO)

The SC1 form, compliance cost spreadsheet and any associated documents should be sent to the SCLO by e-mail  to the central Survey Control email account: Survey Control/BOOTLE/HSE.

Step 6: Action by the SCLO team

On receipt of the SC1 form and other documents, the SCLO team will enter the details on their database and verify that there is no duplication with other HSE surveys.

For surveys with estimated compliance cost below £10,000, we will accept the project officers self-certification that Good Survey Practice has been followed and, in most cases, no further checks will be made.  However, approximately one in 20 of these smaller surveys will be audited by the SCLO team.

For surveys with estimated compliance cost above £10,000 the SCLO team will go through the form to ensure that satisfactory answers have been given to the questions on good survey practice and check the compliance cost calculations. Any queries will need to be resolved with the Project Officer (and/or the client or contractor) before the survey can be approved.

Step 6a (if cost > £10,000): Submission to HSE’s Chief Statistician

As well as being endorsed at SCS level (see Step 4a), surveys above the £10,000 compliance cost threshold must also be approved by HSE’s Chief Statistician (located in the Corporate Science, Engineering and Analysis Directorate, CSEAD). The SCLO will aim to ensure that any queries have been resolved before preparing a submission to the Chief Statistician.

Step 7: Response from the SCLO team

The SCLO will normally aim to respond within 5 days of receipt of the SC1 form, or 10 days if approval from the HSE’s Chief Statistician is required.

Step 8: Follow-up checks

In order to confirm that good survey practice has been followed as set out on the SC1 form, and to validate the compliance cost estimates provided, the SCLO may ask to see a copy of the draft project report produced once the survey has been completed and the results analysed. To make the most of available resources, this step will only apply for a sample of surveys, normally those where the compliance costs and the overall costs of the research to the HSE, are particularly high; if a copy of the draft report is required, this will generally be made clear at the time survey control approval is given.

When should you apply for Survey Control approval?

You should apply for Survey Control approval as soon as you have a firm idea of the number of businesses you will be surveying and the approximate length of any questionnaire.  This will usually be after selecting a preferred contractor.  However, the Survey Control team are happy to provide advice before this information is available and early contact can prevent delays occurring later in the process. 

Other information

Updated 2011-02-11