Dear Ed

Scottish Household Survey

I am writing to inform you of our intention to publish the results from the 2020 Scottish Household Survey (SHS) telephone survey as experimental statistics.

The SHS is an annual survey carried out since 1999. It uses face-to-face, in-home interviewing. In March 2020, fieldwork was suspended in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Only a small proportion of the 2020 survey had been completed. The approach required to be significantly adapted, and the remainder of the 2020 fieldwork was carried out using telephone interviewing, with no face-to-face contact with households. The 2021 SHS has continued to use this method. It is currently intended that the 2022 SHS will use a ‘knock to nudge’ approach.

The results of the SHS 2020 telephone survey are not directly comparable to SHS results for previous years, and will not form part of the SHS National Statistics series.  This is because it is not possible to determine whether differences between the 2020 results and previous years represent genuine changes in views and experiences, or are due to changes in how the survey was carried out. Response rates for the telephone survey were lower than usual, and there was a change in the profile of respondents (e.g. home owners and people with degree level qualifications were over-represented), which could not be fully corrected by weighting. There are also potential mode effects (respondents answering differently over the telephone than they would face-to-face) and seasonal effects (the telephone survey took place during October 2020 and January to March 2021, whereas SHS face-to-face surveys normally run throughout the year). We have nonetheless made every effort to ensure that the estimates are of the highest possible quality in the circumstances.

The SHS 2020 telephone survey results will be accompanied by a methodology report, which will provide detail on the changes in approach and how they may have impacted the results.

It may be advisable for the 2021 SHS telephone survey and 2022 SHS ‘knock to nudge’ survey results to also be published as experimental statistics. Our intention would be to revert to the SHS National Statistics series when we have established a consistent future methodology for the survey – such as returning to face-to-face data collection, or moving to a permanent non-contact alternative.

We would appreciate it if you could add a short review of these statistics into your work programme for the forthcoming year.

Best Wishes

Roger Halliday
Chief Statistician


Related Links

Ed Humpherson to Roger Halliday: Scottish Household Survey