Family Resources Survey

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The Family Resources Survey (FRS) is a survey carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) on an annual basis, collecting information on the incomes and circumstances of private households in Great Britain. It is sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).[1]


The survey was launched in 1992 to supply the DWP with the required information and it has been conducted annually since then. Before 1992, the Department had to rely on other government surveys, for example the Family Expenditure Survey and the General Household Survey, but the sample sizes proved insufficient for the needs of the DWP.[2]

Beginning with a sample size of about 26,000 households, the number was reduced in 1997 to 24,000 households. After Northern Ireland was included in the sample and a 100% boost was introduced for Scotland, the sample size rose to 29,000 households in 2002 across the UK.

Further changes occurred in 1998 when certain parts of the questionnaire were dropped in order to reduce the length, and in 1999 a system of rotating blocks of questions was introduced to reduce respondent fatigue. The questions asked deal with topics such as the receipt of Social Security benefits, assets and savings, housing costs and income.

Methodology and scope[edit]

The interviews are carried out on a face-to-face basis and all adult residents in a household aged 16 and older are interviewed. The reference period is based on the financial year (April to March) and data is released annually, usually eight months after the end of the fieldwork period to which it refers.[3]

Survey results[edit]

The DWP uses the data from the FRS in its Policy Simulation Model (PSM) in order to evaluate existing policies and costing policy options.[4] Furthermore, the FRS supplies data which is incorporated in the analysis of patterns of benefit receipt and benefit forecasting. It is also used to analyze income using Households Below Average Income (HBAI) methodology.

Re-using the data[edit]

Registered users can obtain FRS data from the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) website.


  1. ^ ESDS Government webpages, retrieved September 21, 2009
  2. ^ ONS Family Resources Survey key facts, retrieved September 21, 2009
  3. ^ ONS Family Resources Survey study information, retrieved September 21, 2009
  4. ^ DW, Family Resources Survey 2007-2008 report, retrieved September 21, 2009

External links[edit]