10. Background Information

10. Background Information

The Scottish Household Survey (SHS) started in February 1999.  Its principal purpose is to collect information to inform policy on Transport, Communities and Local Government, but other topics are covered, such as household composition, amenities, employment or unemployment, income, assets and savings, credit and debt, health, disabilities and care, and other topics.  The SHS provides the first representative Scottish data on many subjects, such as access to the Internet, daily travel patterns, etc. 

Where appropriate, the SHS uses the harmonised concepts and questions for government social surveys which have been developed by the Government Statistical Service, to facilitate comparison with the results of other government surveys.  However, differences in sampling and survey methods mean that SHS results will differ from those of other surveys.  The SHS is not designed to produce statistics on unemployment or income: it collects such information only for selecting the data for particular groups of people (such as the unemployed or the low-paid) for further analysis, or for use as background variables when analysing other topics. 

The SHS is intended to be a survey of private households.  For the purposes of the survey, a household is defined as one person or a group of people living in accommodation as their only or main residence and either sharing at least one meal a day or sharing the living accommodation.  A student's term-time address is taken as his/her main residence, in order that they are counted where they live for most of the year.

The sample was drawn from the Small User file of the Postcode Address File (PAF), which is a listing of all active address points maintained by the Post Office.  The Small User file excludes addresses where an average of more than 25 items of post is delivered per day. Blocks of flats etc, which have several dwellings at the same address, are not excluded from the Small User file: in such cases, the file's Multiple Occupancy Indicator is used to count each dwelling separately for the selection of the sample.

People in certain types of accommodation (such as nurses’ homes, student halls of residence etc.) will be excluded from the SHS unless the accommodation is listed on the Small User file of the PAF and it represents the sole or main residence of the people concerned.  People living in bed and breakfast accommodation may be included, if it is listed in the Small User file of the PAF and if it is their sole or main residence.  Prisons, hospitals and military bases are excluded.


In previous years a small number of journeys had been incorrectly recorded as very long distances. These have been corrected from 2013 onwards in this publication. The tables affected by the revisions are TD4 and TD5. The impact on values in table TD4 has been small. In table TD5, some upper decile and mean distance values are lower than previously published. In particular, the mean value for 2016 has reduced substantially from the previously published figure.

Published results, and anonymised data

Some SHS results are also included in Scottish Transport Statistics, published in February.

Transport statistics publications are available on the Transport Scotland Statistics webpages at https://www.transport.gov.scot/our-approach/statistics/#

The SHS Annual Report is published by the Scottish Government and can be found here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/16002/PublicationAnnual

Anonymised copies of the survey data are deposited at the UK Data Archive

Enquiries and further information

General enquiries about the SHS should be addressed to the survey’s Project Manager:

SHS Project Manager
Communities Analytical Services
Scottish Government
Victoria Quay
Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ
Tel: 0131 244 0824
Fax: 0131 244 7573
E-mail: shs@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

Enquiries about the statistics in this bulletin should be addressed to:

Keith Hoy
Transport Analytical Services
Transport Scotland
Scottish Government
Victoria Quay
Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ
Tel: 0131 244 3004
E-mail: transtat@transport.gov.scot

Further information about the survey can be found on the SHS website at https://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/16002

This website provides some background to the survey, information about the progress of the survey, and the published results.  Copies of the Transport Statistics bulletins can be found on the Transport Scotland Statistics webpages at: https://www.transport.gov.scot/our-approach/statistics/#

Please use the SHS Web site to register your interest in Population and Household Surveys if you wish to be added to an e-mail mailing list to be kept informed of SHS news and developments. The Project Manager will also, on request, distribute paper copies of information about the survey, and about significant developments when they occur, to people who are unable to access the website. 

To keep informed with changes to Scottish statistics, please register your interest with ScotStat at www.scotland.gov.uk/scotstat.