Q. We want our Housing Need and Demand Assessment to include reliable income data. Is this available from the Scottish Household Survey and Scottish House Condition Survey?
A. The main source of official income statistics is the Family Resources Survey which is produced by the Department for Work and Pensions. FRS data are not however, available at Scottish local authority level. Experimental work is currently underway to investigate the feasibility of producing local authority level income estimates by combining data from the FRS and Scottish Household Survey.
Both the Annual Population Survey and Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings produce data on earnings at local authority level, however earnings are not the same as household income which includes income from benefits, pensions and other sources.
The SHS provides estimates of income, based on either the highest income householder or another adult in the household in some cases. Data are available at local authority level, for two year sweeps of data. However this is not the primary purpose of this survey and these estimates do not provide information on income for the whole household, nor do they ask the level of detail about income which is asked on the FRS.
Tax credit and benefit claimant data from HM Revenue and Customs can also be used as proxy data for the proportion of children in low income households at a local authority level.
The local authority level poverty estimates which are published by the Scottish Government are available at the following link http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Social-Welfare/IncomePoverty/CoreAnalysis (scroll down to "Local Authority Level Income Data"). Information about these figures is provided in the downloadable Microsoft Excel file. For more detail however please contact the Income and Poverty Statistics Team on 0131 244 0794 or email@example.com.
Q. Can you provide further guidance on assessing the proportion of households unable to afford on the open market? Survey data and CACI income data differ and Communities Scotland's Research Report 72, while useful, is now out of date.
A. In assessing which data source is most 'fit for purpose', Partnerships should ensure that they understand the uses and limitations of income data from various sources. Each of the sources will have its pros and cons and Partnerships should form a judgement about this.
In terms of incomes, a robust survey can provide more detail than modelled data but may not achieve a high response rate as those surveyed may be reluctant to answer questions about income. One of CACI's key selling points is that the size of their sample means that analysis can be undertaken to small geographic levels and retain its robustness. However, CACI data are not an official source of data and the full methodology is not available to the Scottish Government. When using CACI data, Partnerships should ensure that they are content with the methodology and, if necessary, query this with CACI.
Where there is no single definitive data source, Partnerships should bring together and contrast available evidence from different data sources (triangulation) and try to understand why there are differences.
Q. Can you provide greater clarity on the timing of CACI income data?
A. CACI publish their income data annually in April. As the data are modelled using many sources they don't, strictly speaking, relate to a concrete time frame. However, in general, as at April the CACI data tend to relate to the end of the previous year. So the last CACI data were released in April 2009 and were included in the Scottish Government datapack released in August 2009.
Q. To what extent could SCORE be used to determine the proxy income for social rented tenants and can the Scottish Government source this information on local authorities behalf?
A. SCORE should provide an excellent proxy for social rented tenants income. It currently covers about 80% plus of lettings made by RSLs and includes rich information on type etc of household. SCORE is used by RSLs to measure affordability of the let and should contain accurate information on the tenant's income. Its current weakness is that it does not cover lets made by local authorities, a weakness which the Scottish Government will seek to address over the next couple of years.
Stuart Law is the lead analyst on SCORE data and he would be content to take forward any analysis you require. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org setting out your detailed requirements.
Q. Can you provide further guidance on where/how to obtain better information on the incomes of young adults and potential first time buyers, or advise what data could be used as a proxy?
A. The following charts, which presents information on family incomes in Scotland by the age of the family head and by tenure, show that the groups which are more likely to be first time buyers (younger people and renters) have incomes which are lower than much of the rest of the population.
Chart 1 shows that for families with heads in the 30 to 55 age bracket, the median gross weekly income is between £500 and £600. For younger families it is much lower than this. Families with heads in the 25 to 30 age group have a median gross weekly income of £428, while for those in the 20 to 25 age group this figure is £240.
Chart 2 shows that for families in rented accommodation, whether renting privately or from a social landlord, the median gross weekly income is less than £300. This is less than half the median gross weekly income for families that are living in accommodation that is owned with a mortgage.
These figures come from the Family Resources Survey which is the main source of household income information in the UK. Unfortunately they cannot be broken down to local authority level.
However, there are several official sources which can be used to find out more about income and earnings at local authority level and below. These include:
· The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings
· The Labour Force Survey and Annual Population Survey
· The Scottish Household Survey
The Scottish Government plans to conduct a review of the Scottish Household Survey to assess the operation of (and uses made of) the survey with the primary aim of assessing the achieved benefits, quality and continued need for the survey and to maximise the benefits through appropriate question and topic content. As part of this review, consideration will be given to understanding the implications of producing "pooled samples" within the Scottish Household Survey itself and across the other large scale surveys conducted by the Scottish Government. This could allow larger samples to be created for key estimates with more timely and detailed analyses thus permissible. The review will take place during late 2009 and 2010 with all relevant information published on www.scotland.gov.uk/SHS.
To find out more about the data sources listed above, please visit the data sources and suitability section of the Income and Poverty Statistics website. For more details on the measurement of income and poverty in Scotland please contact the Income and Poverty Statistics Team on 0131 244 0794 or email@example.com.