Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Background to the survey

What is this survey about?

The Scottish Household Survey (SHS) is designed to help the Scottish Government and other bodies to plan services and policies for Scotland. To do this we need accurate, up-to-date information about the characteristics, attitudes and behaviour of people living in Scotland. The survey covers lots of topics, including what kind of housing you live in who lives with you, how you feel about the area in which you live and the local services available to you.

Who is doing the survey?

Ipsos have been contracted to do the survey, on behalf of the Scottish Government.

What does the survey cover?

The survey covers a wide range of topics relating to the composition, characteristics, behaviour and attitudes of Scottish households and adults. These include views on local government, neighbourhoods, transport, volunteering, housing experiences and aspirations, health and disability, and questions on culture and sport.

Key questions, providing standard information about the key characteristics of households, remain largely unchanged over time. However, the continuous nature of the survey and its modular design permits some flexibility, and the questionnaire has evolved over time.

From January 2012 a set of core questions has been asked in all Scottish Government cross-sectional surveys. In addition, where two or more surveys ask questions on the same topic, wording has been harmonised. Further details can be found at

Are the results published?

Yes. All annual reports and publications are available from the SHS web site. The two main releases are the Annual Report and the Local Authority Tables. The Annual Report is the first release of the data and this contains key analysis from the survey at Scotland level. The Local Authority tables reproduce the tables and charts from the Annual Report at Local Authority level.

Participation in the Survey

Do I have to take part?

No. If you receive a selection letter but don’t want to take part, please visit or call our freephone number 0808 238 5456 and your name will be taken off the interview list. However, we are keen that as many people as possible take part so that the interviews are representative of everyone in Scotland, not just certain groups of people.

How long does the interview take?

Interview length varies depending on your answers, and whether you take part in the household or random adult part of the questionnaire or both. The householder survey takes 15-20 minutes and the chosen adult part takes around 25-30 minutes.

Will the questions be very personal?

Most people don’t find the questions too personal, but if you do feel uncomfortable with any of the questions being asked, you don’t have to give an answer.

What happens to the information I give?

It will be combined with the information from all the other interviews carried out, to create statistics about the features of people and households in Scotland. These statistics will be published on the Scottish Government website. They will be used in lots of ways by local councils, the Scottish Government and other agencies (e.g. charities, in academic research etc). The reporting will be anonymous (i.e. no-one will be able to identify you from your answers).

Is it confidential?

Confidentiality is assured. The survey is undertaken by professional interviewers from Ipsos who all carry an official identification card.

The survey is strictly confidential. Your information is handled in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics procedures and the 2018 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Survey data is sometimes provided to other approved organisations for genuine research purposes only (never market research).

The same standards of protection are applied to your information at all times. Data will only ever be used to produce statistics that will not identify you or anyone in your household.

This research will comply with the Market Research Society code of conduct.

What time do the interviewers usually visit?

There is no set time that they will visit. If you are not in, the interviewer will call back again at a different time. All interviewers will have an identification card on them, which you can ask to see. If you wish to make an appointment when you receive the letter, please visit, or call our freephone number 0808 238 5456, and someone will call to arrange a time that suits you.

Interviews can be arranged for evenings and at weekends if that works best for you. The interviewer will then contact you at the arranged time to carry out the survey.

Can I be interviewed outside working hours?

Yes, interviews can be arranged for evenings and at weekends.

Does the interview have to take place in my home?

No. If you would prefer, then you can request an interview take place over tablet or PC, or by telephone. However, all interviews will be carried out according to up-to-date safety standards set by the Market Research Society (MRS) and the Scottish Government.

Do the interviewers carry identification?

Yes. All interviewers have identification cards. If requested, the interviewer will tell you their interviewer number and you can call 0808 238 5456 (freephone) to check their identity.

The Scottish House Condition Survey

What is the Scottish House Condition Survey?

The Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS) is the largest housing survey in Scotland. It measures the condition and energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes. The survey covers all types of housing. Around half of those who take part in the Scottish Household Survey will be asked if they would be willing to take part in the Scottish House Condition Survey.

Who carries out the Scottish House Condition Survey?

Ipsos employs professional, qualified housing surveyors to carry out the survey for the Scottish Government.

The surveyor will assess the condition, design and energy efficiency of your home. Much of their time is spent surveying the outside, but they will also ask to see all the rooms inside. The survey is a visual one and will involve taking pictures of the front and back of your home. They will not disrupt your home in any way.

What if I don’t want anyone inside my house just now?

Our surveyors will closely follow government and Market Research Society advice and health and safety guidelines.

The survey is voluntary, and you are, of course, free to change your mind about taking part. Ipsos have appointed CADS Housing Surveys to manage the booking of the housing survey appointments. If you have any questions about the appointment and the surveyor visit, please contact CADS on 0131 558 8999.

How long will the Scottish House Condition Survey take?

This part of the survey takes between thirty minutes and an hour. Much of this time the surveyor will be outside the house. The amount of time surveyors require inside your home will be kept to a minimum.