Companies are required by law to provide information about their businesses. This information enables the Office of National Statistics (ONS) to provide data that in turn helps provide a snapshot of the economy. The majority of ONS's business surveys are collected under the Statistics of Trade Act 1947 (STA).
The Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 governs the submission and registration of data.
As well as producing data, the UK Statistics Authority and Office for National Statistics promote, safeguard and ensure good practice in relation to UK official statistics.
Types of statistics
There are a range of business surveys carried out by the ONS, for example:
- the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE);
- the Annual Business Inquiry (ABI) on employment;
- the Producer Prices Index (PPI).
Intrastat is the UK system for collecting statistics on the trade in goods between EU countries. Businesses, which import/export goods within the EU and exceed the Intrastat threshold, are legally required to submit monthly Intrastat Supplementary Declarations (SDs). This can be done electronically after registration.
UK businesses registered for VAT and who supply goods to businesses registered for VAT in other EU countries, must provide details of these sales on an EC Sales List (ESL), also known as a European Community Sales List or European Sales List.
The Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) is the comprehensive list of UK businesses used by government for statistical purposes. It covers businesses in all areas of the economy, except some very small businesses (self-employed, those without employees and low turnover) and some non-profit making organisations.
The IDBR is updated from the following sources:
- traders registered for Value Added Tax (VAT) purposes with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC);
- employers operating a Pay As You Earn (PAYE) scheme - registered with HMRC;
- incorporated businesses registered at Companies House;
- National Statistics Surveys based on the IDBR;
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) provides free access to statistical data on the UK's economy and society, as well as some data from government departments and the devolved administrations. Its statistics are vital for planning, policy-making and decision-making in the UK.