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Office for National Statistics (ONS): changing the way you submit your data

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Can you help ONS with their transition to online surveys? Programme Director Jason Bradbury explains what they’re looking for.

ONS statistics are relied on by central and local government, businesses and individuals to make important decisions and plan for the future. To make sure they remain accurate and relevant, we need to gather timely and detailed information that captures the whole economy and the fortunes of businesses large and small.

We rely heavily on businesses to complete our surveys which provide us with this information. All the data we collect is extremely valuable in informing the policy decisions that affect you. However, we recognise the burden this places on business people who are often very pushed for time, especially in smaller firms.

If you’re anything like me, you expect to be able to do everything at the click of a button, whether it is booking a holiday, buying clothes or paying a bill. It only makes sense that you should be able to complete ONS surveys online.

Screenshot of ONS Monthly Business survey

Earlier this year, thousands of retailers that provide data for the Retail Sales Index (RSI) each month were able to do so online for the first time. RSI is one of the UK’s key monthly economic indicators – closely watched by the media and the financial markets. So it’s fitting that it’s the first to go digital.

In moving this survey online, we have worked closely with businesses to understand your needs and listen to your feedback, which to date has been very positive. The main comments have been around how easy it is to use and that the format is more accessible.

Online submission is part of a wider Data Collection Transformation Programme to improve our data collection methods and help improve decision making across the UK.

We’re looking for volunteers to make sure the changes we make benefit you. So, if you are interested in helping us and:

  • currently submit data through paper surveys to ONS
  • submit data for others, for example accountants acting on behalf of clients
  • have difficulty in accessing the internet
  • feel you don’t have the skills required to use online services

Please complete this short form and have your say.

Screenshot of retail turnover.

The demand for evidence to inform decision making is growing and rapid changes in society and technology mean that more data, in richer and more complex forms, is more available than ever before.

It shows how ONS is changing so that we can use more of these sources to provide data more quickly, to respond to rapidly emerging issues, and to meet user needs.

For more information or if you have any questions about the Business Survey Data Collection project, please get in touch.

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