Family Expenditure Survey Frequently Asked Questions
Which years of
the FES are available?
The FES is available annually from 1961-1963 and from 1968-2000. Until 1993,
the data is available on a calendar year basis (i.e. running from January to
December). From 1993, the data is supplied on a financial year basis (i.e. from
April to March). From 1968 the FES incorporated a sample drawn from the Northern
Ireland FES. This is an ongoing survey and supplied annually. For an up-to-date
list of available datasets, please refer to the Dataset
What format is the data available in?
Most years of the FES and NI FES are
available in SPSS, STATA and ASCII tab-delimited formats.
Where can I obtain statistics and tables from the FES?
These are published in the official ONS reports Family Spending and are available
from a good academic library or from The
Stationery Office. The current and some previous Family Spending reports
are also freely downloadable in Adobe Acrobat PDF format from the National
Does the FES include information at the person level?
Although the basic unit of the survey
is the household, detailed questions are asked about the income of each adult
member of the household. In addition, personal information such as age, sex
and marital status is recorded for each household member. Each individual aged
16 or over in the household is asked to keep diary records of daily expenditure.
Information about regular expenditure, such as rent and mortgage payments, is
obtained from a household interview along with retrospective information on
large infrequent expenditures. Since 1995-96 children aged between 7 and 15
have also been asked to complete simplified diaries of their daily expenditure.
What is the most detailed geography I can analyse the data
The FES includes Standard Region,
Government Office Region, and Standard Region with metropolitan areas, the latter
being the most detailed classification. Acorn codes and LA codes are also available
on the 2000-2001 dataset but there are no labels for the codes.
Before I order, how do I find out what questions/variables
Variable lists and PDF user guides
(including questionnaires) are freely available via the Doc column in the Dataset
What do I do if the information I need isn’t available in the survey documentation?
You can contact our helpdesk at firstname.lastname@example.org. If the helpdesk team cannot find the answer to your query in the survey documentation they will contact ONS. However, please note that the FES has been replaced by the Expenditure and Food Survey so historic queries about the FES are difficult for ONS to answer. ONS cannot guarantee that they will be of any help or provide any further information where detailed documentation does not exist for the dataset. Also, the recent relocation of the survey team from London to Newport means that delays in responding to Family Expenditure Survey queries are likely to persist in the short term.
Is there a more general FAQ?
There is a generic
FAQ for all surveys available.