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Business: Expenditure

Volume 479: debated on Monday 1 September 2008

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much the Office of National Statistics' survey into business spending cost; what the cost per question was; how many responses have been received; and what action is being (a) taken and (b) planned as a result of the survey. (218590)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the Authority to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 1 September 2008:

As national statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent parliamentary question concerning how much the ONS Business Spending on Capital Items Survey (BSCIS) cost; what the cost per question was; how many responses have been received; and what action is being (a) taken and (b) planned as a result of the survey.

(218590)

The BSCIS is one of the measures introduced by ONS to improve the quality of official statistics as part of the departmental spending review (DSR) package of surveys agreed in 1998-99. The survey was set up to monitor spending on capital expenditure in more detail. It is a small annual survey consisting of a sample of 2,500 businesses covering most sectors of the economy. Questionnaires are not sent to businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

Table of survey information:

Number

Questionnaires sent per year

2,500

Questionnaires received per year (Approx 80 per cent. response)

2,000

Questions per questionnaire

101

Table of survey costs

Total

To business

To ONS

Cost per survey1 (£'000)

270

140

130

Cost per questionnaire (£)

105

55

50

Cost per question (£)

1.0

0.5

0.5

1 Business cost as published for 2006-07

The information collected from the BSCIS is used to improve the estimate of gross domestic product (GDP). The information is used to break down capital expenditure estimates to a product level to allow more accurate deflation, seasonal adjustment and supply-use balancing of the national accounts. There is no alternative data source that can be used to produce the consistent and coherent detail required.

The results from the survey are published in January of each year on the ONS website at:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vlnk=8167&Pos=l&CoIRank=l&Rank=272