Transforming the ONS’s household financial statistics

Closed 23 Feb 2023

Opened 1 Dec 2022

Feedback updated 31 Jul 2023

We asked

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) ran a consultation on the Household Financial Statistics Transformation (HFST) project, from 1 December 2022 to 23 February 2023. It was designed to provide us with information on how our statistics on income, expenditure and wealth are currently used, and to capture feedback on a series of proposals for the longer-term future of our statistics. For further details, please see our consultation document.  

We would like to thank all respondents for their valuable feedback, which will continue to guide our work in this area. We will keep users informed of our plans for this work as it develops into the future. 

You said

The engagement exercise received 49 responses from a range of stakeholders.   

These consisted of:   

  • 20 responses from the government sector, including local government and public bodies  

  • 1 response from the business sector  

  • 4 responses from think tanks  

  • 3 responses from the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector  

  • 12 responses from the academia and research sector  

  • 9 responses from other respondents responding in a personal capacity  

Responses were submitted on behalf of individuals and organisations.  

Responses to the consultation highlighted the importance of our regular statistics on wealth, income and expenditure for providing valuable insights into the financial well-being of households.  

The consultation has allowed us to further understand user needs relating to these statistics. It highlighted: 

  • the need for ONS to continue to produce its current range of Household Financial Statistics covering income, expenditure and wealth 

  • while more frequent insights into financial well-being (the proposed household financial indicators) were seen as valuable, they should be developed alongside existing statistics rather than as a replacement 

  • the need for a coherent set of income, expenditure and wealth statistics in order to produce consistent analysis across the topics 

  • the issues around the coherence of the statistics, particularly on the topic of income 

  • the various use cases for expenditure statistics at different levels of granularity 

  • that users of wealth statistics would value an annual publication but recognised the challenges around sample size and valued the detail in our biennial outputs 

  • the support for the regular publication of financial well-being statistics, particularly on financial resilience 

 For further details, please see our consultation response document.

We did

In taking forward work in this area, we need to balance and phase the improvements we want to make against the resources we have available. Current work is focused on the following developments. 

  • Re-introducing our financial well-being statistics with publications planned on poverty and financial resilience. 

  • The introduction of a new digital diary tool for our field force interviewers to help with data collection from those that take part in our Living Costs and Food (LCF) survey. 

  • Developing our research plans for income estimates for small areas in line with our vision for the future of population and migration statistics in England and Wales and feedback from users sought through the consultation that launched on 29 June 2023. 

  • Potentially making our surveys shorter and simpler to reduce respondent burden, at a time when the survey industry faces difficulties engaging respondents.  

Since publishing the consultation, we’ve also further explored some of our proposals, including research and testing of changes to some of our household financial surveys. These include:  

  • research into the collection of wealth data on our LCF survey 

  • exploration of methods of collection such as the digital diary for the collection of expenditure 

  • analysis of alternative data options 

More significant change which we had previously planned as part of the HFST project will require further investment. Responses to the consultation will provide a valuable part of the evidence base for securing funding for this work in the future. 

We would like to thank all respondents for their valuable feedback, which will continue to guide our work in this area. We will keep users informed of our plans for this work as it develops into the future. 

Results updated 31 Jul 2023



We are seeking views on our ambitious plans for the transformation of our household financial statistics.  

These statistics cover the income, expenditure and wealth of UK Households and are a vital source of information for understanding people’s finances including the effects from the rising cost of living. 

Our aim is to ensure that the household financial statistics and analysis we produce continue to meet the evolving needs of policy makers, citizens and other data users. Our ambition is that our statistics and analysis should provide inclusive, coherent, timely and granular insights into wide aspects of the financial wellbeing of households with improved coverage and accuracy.  

Improving the coherence of our measures of income is also an important goal within our plans. Previous feedback from users has informed us that a better understanding of the differences between measures of income and greater coherence in these estimates is important.  

We have a longer-term aim to make much greater use of other existing UK Government data sources, known as administrative data. Our ambition is to put these at the heart of our income statistics, supported by data from our surveys, which continue to be fundamental for measuring aspects of household finances not covered in other sources.  

This proposed approach essentially constitutes a shift from predominantly survey based estimates supported by administrative data to the converse position. This is in line with our broader plans for more frequent, timely and inclusive population and social statistics.

This consultation sets out our plans for the next two and half years, laying out necessary transformation steps, consistent with that longer term aim and building on our existing research in this space.  Recognising that in the shorter term we will continue to rely more heavily on surveys, particularly for data on expenditure and wealth. Therefore, this consultation seeks views on plans for both the transformation of our surveys and further development of our use of administrative data.   

Our ambitious plan outlines how, through the combination of survey, administrative data and statistical imputation we aim to develop a cross-cutting suite of data on income, expenditure, and wealth at a household level.  We will also explore introducing a new online first point of contact for respondents, aiming to reduce respondent burden and facilitate targeted follow ups. We aim to improve estimates of household spending through the development of a new digital collection tool to replace the diary element of expenditure data collection and adopt the latest international standards of expenditure classification. 

We ask you to consider our proposals for the transformation of household financial statistics and to provide your responses to this consultation by Thursday 23 February 2023.  A better understanding of your needs and priorities will help us shape our ambitions and plans for these important statistics. 

We also invite you to join us at our online event on 17 January 2023. This is an opportunity to further discuss the proposals in the consultation, ask questions and share thoughts about the uses and priorities for these key statistics. 

Thank you.


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