Developing a method for producing annual gross value added at a subnational level

Closed 7 Mar 2022

Opened 13 Dec 2021

Feedback updated 31 May 2022

We asked

On 13 December 2021 the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published experimental gross value added (GVA) statistics at Middle layer Super Output Areas (MSOA) and higher geographies plus an accompanying article. The publication set Lower layer Super Output Area (LSOA) level data as the building blocks for higher level geographies.  

The ONS ran a consultation from 13 December 2021 to 7 March 2022 to seek users’ opinions on the experimental statistics. We asked users to help us understand:  

  1. How they used the experimental statistics 

  1. Whether they were going to access the building blocks dataset in the Secure Research Service (SRS) or not 

  1. How useful they found the accompanying article 

  1. Users’ suggestions about what we must do to improve the methods and procedures for producing subnational statistics 

  1. If anything was missing from the accompanying article that would be beneficial to see in the future 

  1. Users’ overall view of the experimental statistics 

  1. If users wanted statistics broken down by industry, and why 

  1. Whether they required any other industry breakdowns for their work 

  1. Other subnational data requirements they wanted us to know and/or pursue. 

  1. Other comments about the consultation 

The ONS is currently improving the availability of data at subnational level. It seeks to identify key areas of interest of different stakeholders with a view to build towards producing more (experimental) subnational statistics on a regular basis. Further, the ONS is working on a subnational data explorer facility, which is expected to mature into an online self-service platform, as discussed in the Government Statistical Service’s Subnational Data Strategy

You said

Professional and personal users of the data responded to the consultation. Of the respondents, 71% were using the data professionally in some capacity, and 56% of the users worked in Government, including local government and public bodies. 

Users were keen to access the experimental data with over 80% showing interest in working with the data. Whilst the disclosive nature of the results meant that the data had to be held in the Secure Research Services (SRS) creating a 50/50 split in the ability in those users to be able to access it. 

You told us that: 

  • disaggregating the gross value added (GVA) data to a subnational level helps to identify local trends in data over time, highlighting where economic activity is growing or declining 

  • the provision of more granular data (e.g. the building blocks) helps to meet specific stakeholder needs 

  • the presentation of data around the specific bespoke areas is clear and well structured 

  • that we clearly communicated how disaggregating GVA to a subnational level created issues in disclosure at LSOA, requiring us to hold this data within the SRS due to legal requirements and that you were happy with the restrictions set out to access this data. 

Some users requested the following: 

  • further data that can be compared to well-being economies/social systems alongside GVA and gross disposable household income (GDHI). 

  • MSOA/LSOA data for hours worked, income tax and income, and employment changes  

  • a user dashboard that allows users to visually ascertain data 

  • explore the possibility of integrating with 3rd party data providers 

Industry breakdowns  

We asked our stakeholders to tell us their views about producing industry breakdowns of GVA at lower levels of geography. Our earlier investigations had shown that industry breakdown at LSOA level is disclosive. There is reduced risk of disclosure at MSOA level, and this can be addressed by grouping some industries together.  

Table of industry breakdown 

Group 1 


Group 2 


Group 3 


Group 4 

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing 




Information and communication 



Business services activities 






Financial and insurance activities 



Public administration; education; health 



Accommodation and food 


Real estate activities 



Other services and household activities 












The consultation results show that some users:  

  • would prefer Group 1 to be broken down further, which is helpful for rural areas like Cumbria that consist of large agriculture and manufacturing sectors. Combining these two would mask important sector variations. 

  • prefer grouping consumer facing businesses (e.g. retail, hospitality) separately rather than combined with distribution and transport. This will be investigated for practicality and the risk of disclosure. 

  • suggested that education and health service are separated.  

Respondents to the consultation also made suggestions of what they want us to do in the future.  
Some of the suggestions or requests included: 

  •  GVA broken down by environmental impact to inform the net-zero agenda. 

  •  more frequent information on jobs and business change. For example, business demography quarterly below regional level – International Territorial Level (ITL) 3. ​ 

  • sectoral breakdown of HMRC’s Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Real Time Information (RTI) by full time equivalent job count at ITL 3 level, but local authority preferred. 

  • longer and up-to-date time series (less lagged) that will allow them to assess subnational impacts of Brexit.  

We did

We are working on several projects to improve availability of subnational statistics, including: 

  • looking to build a repeatable analytical pipeline for the ingestion and processing of data, in order to deliver future results in a timely manner 

  • updating the GVA estimates to 2020 

  • improving the apportionment methods that we use to breakdown GVA to lower levels of geography 

  • break down GDHI to lower levels of geography 


The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is seeking views on a new method for producing gross value added (GVA) data at subnational level. Details of our suggested approach are outlined in this article.

The aim is to eventually publish subnational data that offers the flexibility for users of our economic statistics to define and build their own geographies using the building blocks we produce.  This flexibility is expected to help regional users access economic statistics in a way that enables them to develop non-standard geographic areas that are of particular interest.

As this is an experimental project, we would welcome your feedback using this consultation process to further its development.

Our aim is to develop the experimental statistics to a stage where they can be published regularly. In future, we would also like to develop an online self-service platform that will enable users to explore subnational statistics, as discussed in the Government Statistical Service’s Subnational Data Strategy.

What the experimental statistics will cover

The background of the project and methods used are detailed in the article accompanying the experimental statistics. The article outlines the aims of the project, progress made to date, and a look ahead at what might be achieved in the future.

The experimental statistics of annual subnational GVA cover the following geographies:

  • Lower layer Super Output Areas (LSOAs), which have not been covered before and form the building blocks for higher level geographies*
  • Parliamentary constituencies
  • Travel-To-Work Areas (TTWAs)
  • Health boards
  • A selection of bespoke areas of interest to users
  • Middle layer Super Output Areas (MSOAs)

Our Census Geography article defines key building blocks of LSOAs, MSOAs and TTWA. LSOAs in England and Wales are synonymous with data zones in Scotland and super output areas in Northern Ireland.

* We may publish the lower-level geography data in future as we continue to work on understanding how best to manage the disclosure risk. In the mean time, the dataset will be made available in the ONS Secure Research Service for access to accredited researchers.

How to respond

We encourage you to respond online where this is possible. However, responses in writing or by email will also be accepted via:

or: Subnational Statistics and Analysis Division, Office for National Statistics, Government Buildings, Cardiff Road, Newport, South Wales, NP10 8XG

Should you wish to submit your main response online and any supporting information via hard copy or email, please be clear that this is part of the same consultation response.

Languages and Accessibility

All material relating to this consultation can be provided in braille, large print, or audio formats on request. British Sign Language interpreters can also be requested for any supporting events.

A Welsh translation of the consultation document and questionnaire is available upon request, please contact for further information.

Mae cyfieithiad Cymraeg o'r ddogfen ymgynghori a'r holiadur ar gael ar gais, cysylltwch â i gael mwy o wybodaeth.


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