Dear Ed

Scottish House Condition Survey 2021

I am writing to inform you of our intention to publish the key findings from the 2021 Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS) as experimental statistics. Our intention is to return these statistics to National Statistics when we publish the 2022 survey analysis and I ask you to consider conducting a short review later this year.

The SHCS consists of an interview with householders and a physical inspection of the dwelling they occupy by trained surveyors and is the source of National Statistics on key characteristics of the housing stock, energy efficiency, fuel poverty and housing standards. Due to COVID-19 disruption, a smaller proportion of the 2020 survey had been completed and it was not possible to resume the fieldwork for the 2020 SHCS.

The 2021 SHCS began limited operations with external-only inspections supplemented with other data, such as administrative data from Energy Performance Certificates. It also relied on householders providing information about the condition and characteristics of their dwellings to surveyors by telephone. This provided us with reasonable estimates given how the data had to be collected but they are not comparable with the results expected from the full survey. Therefore, the results for 2021 are not directly comparable and will not form part of the SHCS National Statistics series.

We have ensured that the estimates are as reliable as possible under the circumstances and to publish these statistics which will be of interest to users. We have engaged with users throughout the process and the publication will provide detailed information on the steps taken to resolve issues and the impact on the data quality for the published statistics.

For these reasons we intend to publish these statistics as ‘Experimental’ due to the different way in which they have been compiled. We intend to begin normal publication of SHCS National Statistics for data collected in 2022 in early 2024 and, due to the nature of the data collected, publish local authority level data from 2026.

Given the disruption and the importance of these statistics for the public, especially on issues such as Fuel Poverty and the development of government policies to support interventions, I would ask you to consider conducting a short review, as we return these statistics to National Statistics next year.

I will ask the statisticians in the area to liaise with your office and provide your teams with our full support. I would also be happy to discuss this matter further with you.

Yours sincerely

Alastair McAlpine
Chief Statistician

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Ed Humpherson response to Alastair McAlpine: Scottish House Condition Survey 2021