Living Standards 2012 questionnaire: overview

The Living Standards in the UK questionnaire covers a wide range of individual and household living standards. You can download the questionnaire itself and the questionnaire annotated with the top level results below.

The questionnaire is in two sections: the first section covers matters shared by the whole household and is answered by the main household respondent; the second section covers questions specific to individuals that are answered separately by every member of the household. The individual section includes a self-completion section where sensitive questions are answered privately.

The questionnaire is designed on the basis that the respondents taking part were to be drawn from those who took part in the 2010/2011 Family Resources Surveys (FRS) in Britain and Northern Ireland, meaning that a large number of questions on household circumstances and finance could be brought forward from the FRS survey and checked for change.  Following up the FRS survey has the advantage that changes since the respondents were last interviewed can be tracked.

Household questions

Changes in the household checks the basic details about the household and records any changes since the FRS interview, i.e. have there been changes to the number of household members, their names, gender, age, marital status, relationships and Household Reference Person status.

Children outside the household collects details of relationships with those not in the household.

Additional demographics collects information on main language, ethnicity, religion and passports held.

Housing collects details on type of accommodation and asks questions where the respondent has to comment on the standard of their accommodation.

Fuel poverty investigates the extent to which the respondent can keep their home warm.

Area deprivation aims to assess respondents’ views of their neighbourhood.

Local services looks at the use and adequacy of local services, both public and private.

Finance and debts asks respondents about problems in paying their bills, the causes of those problems, borrowing and from whom.

Gifts asks about other sources of support that affect the household’s standard of living.

Education and parenting asks about satisfaction with schooling, involvement with schooling and other aspects of parenting.

Individual questions

Employment and working conditions provides additional details (to the FRS) on the respondents’ work and working conditions.

Health and disability asks a range of questions about the respondents’ health and how this affects their lives.

Time investigates the extent to which respondents feel pressured for time.

Social networks and support is designed to measure the amount of social support available to respondents and the frequency with which they see or speak to family and friends.

Necessities is a core section in the survey and relates back to the Necessities of Life survey in that the same range of items and activities for adults and children are covered. In these questions, respondents are asked about a range of items: which they have; which they don’t have and don’t want; and which they don’t have because they can’t afford it. Respondents are also asked about a range of activities: which they do; which they don’t do and don’t want to do; which they don’t do because they can’t afford to; and which they don’t do for other reasons. Respondents are asked about adult and children items. Questions about household items are asked only of the main household respondent; child items are asked of the main carer; all other items and activities are asked of every member of the household. Respondents are also asked about the quality of their goods and restrictions on purchases.

Poverty over time asks respondents about changes in their living standards and their feelings about the adequacy of their living standards.

Subjective poverty aims to ascertain respondents’ views on the level of income that is needed to keep people above the poverty line.

Satisfaction asks about satisfaction with a range of aspects of the respondent’s life.

Harm, crime and criminalisation asks about a range of harms that can damage a person’s quality of life; not just criminal harms but also financial harms, physical injury and abuse and harassment.

Critical life events asks about major events in the respondent’s life.

Social and political engagement asks about civic and community involvement, local and national.

Self-completion section includes questions on general health (including mental health issues), support likely to be received from others in time of need, sexual identity, finances and spending decisions within the household, living costs and whether respondents have had to cut back on essential items to keep down living costs, violence and sexual harms, and problems children might have encountered at school.

The Living Standards survey was carried out between March and July 2012 by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) in Britain and by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) in Northern Ireland. The survey re-interviewed respondents to the 2010/11 Family Resources Survey (FRS) who had provided permission to be contacted again.

The Living Standards survey was carried out between March and December 2012 by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) in Britain and by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) in Northern Ireland. The survey re-interviewed respondents to the 2010/11 Family Resources Survey (FRS) who said they could be contacted again. Every adult living at each address was interviewed.

The sampling frame was designed so as to give a minimum sample in Britain of 4,220 households (including 1,000 households in Scotland overall and an additional 220 households in rural Scotland) and a minimum sample in Northern Ireland of 1,000 households. The final sample size achieved was 5,193 households (4,205 in Britain and 988 in Northern Ireland) in which 12,097 people were living (9,786 in Britain and 2,311 in Northern Ireland).

The survey organisations were required to interview all members of the household currently living at that address. This is a major improvement on past PSE surveys and means that this research project will be able to throw light on intra-household poverty.

The sample frame oversamples those on low incomes and from ethnic minorities to ensure that there are sufficient cases to permit sub-group analyses. For further details see Living standards in the UK survey sampling frame.