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English Housing Survey Frequently Asked Questions


What is the English Housing Survey (EHS)?

The EHS (from 2008 onwards) brings together the two previous surveys into a single fieldwork operation: the English House Condition Survey (EHCS) and the Survey of English Housing (SEH). The EHS includes the household questionnaire that was carried out in the SEH but it also incorporates data that was originally collected in the English House Condition Survey (EHCS). This additional information includes a physical assessment of the property and a market value assessment.

What are the main changes to survey methodology in the EHS compared to the SEH?

The key methodological change is that the EHS follows an unclustered design in which households are directly sampled. Prior to this the SEH followed a multistage sample design with clustering where postcodes were selected as the primary sampling units and then households with postcodes were sampled. This means that calculations of standard errors using EHS data (at household level) can assume a simple random sample - there is no need to adjust standard errors to account for a complex sample design (as is the case for the SEH) (see the Complex Survey Design guide for more information). The unclustered nature of the EHS sample is a positive development as it will deliver greater precision for many indicators than is achieved within the SEH.

Another methodological change relates to the way people are selected for interview. The SEH aimed to interview all households at multi-household addresses. In privately renting households with more than one tenancy group, the SEH also attempted to conduct interviews with each tenancy group. In contrast, the EHS selects one dwelling per address and one household per dwelling, and interviews only the household reference person (HRP) of that household or their partner. In a small number of cases a proxy interview was undertaken with another household member or carer.

In terms of survey length, the SEH interview length was about 25 minutes while the EHS could last up to 45 minutes depending on the household characteristics and questionnaire routing.

There are some other discontinuities linked to calculation of rent calculations that are discussed in the EHS Household Report (see appendix C).

Will the survey changes (from the SEH to the EHS) affect time series analysis?

There will unfortunately be some disruption to time series analysis of data from the SEH and the EHS. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) who commission the survey will provide guidance as to where time series have been affected.

What data are collected about households in the EHS?

Following consultation with users at the end of 2005 a new household interview questionnaire was developed for the EHS that brings together all the key information from the previous Survey of English Housing (SEH) and English House Condition Survey (EHCS). Some less critical information was dropped or will be collected less frequently through a rotating module every two or three years. For example the EHS collects data on fires in the home, on a rotating basis. Certain key descriptive information about each household member is collected at the start of the interview which also feeds into the ONS Intergrated Household Survey (IHS). The following topics are covered in most years:

  • household composition, ethnicity, nationality, economic status, education and health
  • household accommodation and length of residence
  • housing history and aspirations
  • rent and mortgage payments
  • satisfaction with landlord/ attitudes to neighbourhood
  • second homes
  • damp in the home
  • income

What data are collected about properties in the EHS?

Around half those households interviewed are randomly selected to have a physical inspection undertaken of their home. An appointment is made at a time convenient to the respondent for a named surveyor to call. The content of this visual inspection has continued largely unchanged from the previous EHCS and involves an internal and external assessment of the property by a professional surveyor. The new EHS, therefore continues to provide key measures relating to Decent Homes, energy efficiency, quality of local environments and the new Housing Health and Safety Rating System. Property valuations are also collected so that information on local housing markets and householders' equity in their homes can be derived. As for the previous EHCS, information relating to stock condition, neighbourhood quality and energy efficiency will be analysed annually based on a two year rolling sample.

Which years of the EHS are available?

The EHS is an annual dataset and is available from 2008-09 onwards. For an up-to-date list of available datasets, please refer to the Dataset Titles page.

What format is the data available in?

EHS data are available in SPSS, STATA, SAS and ASCII tab-delimited formats.

Where can I obtain statistics and tables from the EHS?

Reports from the EHS can be obtained from the Communities and Local Government website.

Does the EHS include information at the person level?

The EHS does not include information at the person level. Interviews are only carried out with the householder or their partner. At households containing private renters, an additional interview is carried out with the tenant or partner in each tenancy group in the household.

What is the most detailed geography I can analyse the data at?

EHS data is available for Government Office Regions.

What is the place of the EHS within the Integrated Household Survey (IHS)?

The IHS brings together a number of ONS continuous household surveys into a single module-based survey. The surveys included are the General Lifestyle Survey, the Living Costs and Food Survey and the Labour Force Survey as well as the EHS. Further information on the IHS is available from the Integrated Household Survey website.

Before I order, how do I find out what questions/variables are included?

Variable lists and PDF user guides (including questionnaires) are freely available via the Doc column in the Dataset Titles page.

Is there a more general FAQ?

There is a generic FAQ for all surveys available.

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  Page last updated 22 February 2013
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