Office for National Statistics to Reduce Business Survey Burden

Having to fill in regular business surveys contributing to government data can be a time-consuming burden for busy SME owners.

But new changes due to be brought in over the next five years will alleviate some of the pressure.

The Office for National Statistics has announced plans to partially replace the monthly business surveys used to keep track of economic growth across the UK with data gathered from VAT returns from the HMRC.

Around 45,000 surveys are currently sent out to British businesses by the ONS every month.

By transferring part of the focus to VAT turnover statistics, it’s estimated that this amount can be reduced by at least half.

Nick Vaughan, ONS Director of National Accounts and Economic Statistics, said:

“These plans are part of a wider ONS agenda to develop new and better sources of data and keep producing the highest quality statistics possible.

“They will reduce costs both for ONS and the businesses being surveyed as well as significantly increasing the coverage and quality of economic data.”

ONS paper business surveys will be scrapped completely

By investing in a wider electronic data collection on top of changing the way stats are collected, it’s hoped that paper-based business surveys will be completely a thing of the past by 2019.

Besides making life easier for smaller companies that are tight on time and resources, these plans could also potentially deliver considerable savings for the tax payer – reducing the £1.8 million cost of carrying out the Monthly Business Survey by up to 40%.

Aside from this, businesses can expect to save up to 50% in compliance costs as a result of having less paperwork to deal with.

This will be particularly welcomed by the UK’s small and medium-sized businesses that are currently required by law to complete these surveys each month whether they are pushed for time or not.