Other general sources

Other sources of secondary data include national and local government (Table 3.1) and chambers of commerce. For business and professional markets, another possibility is trade, business or professional associations.

In the UK, a very useful government publication, published by TSO, is the Guide to Official Statistics: this covers all official and significant non-official sources of statistics, both regular and occasional, published during the last ten years. It attempts to give the user a broad indication of whether the statistics required have been compiled and, if so, whether they have been published. It does not contain statistics but it does indicate where to find them.

Useful UK government sources of information

Abstract of Regional Statistics

Economic and social regional statistics for UK

Agricultural Statistics: England and Wales (annually)

Annual Abstract of Statistics

Data on housing, manufactured goods, population, etc.

Annual Estimates of the Population of England and Wales and of Local Authority Areas (annually)

Bill of Entry Service

Customs and Excise data

Business Monitor

Information on different UK industries - provides performance indicators and trends against which one can compare one's own performance. Helps to determine size of market

Department of Employment Gazette (monthly)

Digest of Energy Statistics (annually)

Digest of Health Statistics for England and Wales (annually)

Economic Trends

Monthly review of the economic situation

Family Expenditure Survey Reports (annually)

Trends in expenditure on consumer products - indicates changes in patterns of expenditure

Financial Statistics (monthly)

UK monetary and financial statistics

Food Survey

Trends in expenditure on food

General Household Survey

A continuous sample survey providing a picture of changing social conditions in many aspects of everyday life

Highway Statistics (annually)

Housing and Construction Statistics (quarterly)

Key Data

Overview of statistics produced by government, at a modest cost

Monthly Bulletin of Construction Statistics

Monthly Digest of Statistics

Data on housing, manufactured goods, population, etc.

National Income and Expenditure Blue Book (annually)

Overseas trade statistics of the UK (monthly)

Passenger Transport in Great Britain (annually)

Social Trends

Annual collection of social statistics - population, households, education, health, housing, environment, leisure, etc. Useful for indicating changes in expenditure


Next week, Social Trends, the annual snapshot of life in the UK, will be published, significant parts of its data drawn from the General Household Survey. The edition due in two years' time will not be as good, for the Office of National Statistics has just announced that this year's GHS, a survey of more than 10,000 households a year, is to be suspended. It is a suspension, furthermore, that sounds worryingly like a death knell. The survey will be resumed the following year, its users have been told, 'if this is appropriate'.

This is a short-sighted and damaging decision. The GHS is a prime source of continuous survey data since 1971. Its value lies in an unbroken series embracing income, housing, family composition, health, employment status, education, disability, use of social services, informal care and much else. It provides a window into the growing world of self-employment, the effects of widening inequality and the growth and impact of lone parenthood, while providing measures of social integration and exclusion. It is used in government, in academia and in market research.

Over the past five years it has been the most used of the wealth of datasets held in the Economic and Social Research Council's archive. While other surveys duplicate some of the GHS's coverage, none provides its ability to combine such disparate elements of British life over time in measures that can inform public policy.

Its suspension, to save £500,000, follows a cut in ONS's £100m budget. It goes on hold while a rapid and wide-ranging review is held of future social survey needs. Such a review, to avoid unneeded duplication and ensure value for money, is sensible.

It is not sensible for the ONS to have to act first and consider afterwards. At a time when reform of welfare policies is centre stage, it cannot be right to suspend the survey that can inform those policies and measure their outcomes. The ONS should be given the chance to think again, even if that means a temporary budget reprieve.

Source: Financial Times11 (reprinted with permission)

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