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Household Spending and Income Survey

17 March 2010

On Tuesday 12 May 2009 the Statistics Unit launched the 2009/10 Household Spending and Income Survey (HSIS). The survey, which runs until May 2010, collects information about the spending habits and income of Jersey households. A sample of households are being chosen each month at random and asked to participate for 2 weeks.

This survey is essential to ensure that the Retail Prices Index and other official statistics remain accurate and up to date, as well as being able to provide a full income distribution for Jersey households.

We are now in the last 3 months of data collection, and the Unit would like to thank every one of the households who have taken part so far. Households are selected at random, and they represent not only their own household but others in Jersey like it, helping to ensure that official figures such as the RPI are representative of all Jersey households.

Spending patterns change through the year, so these last few months will be important in capturing spending habits of Islanders in the spring months. The Unit would like to encourage all those who are contacted in the coming months to get involved.

Households who have been involved so far have often fed back that they found it a very interesting and useful budgeting exercise, and are very positive about being part of something that is so important to Jersey.

Another reason to take part is that participating households are offered the chance to be entered into a quarterly prize draw. The Statistics Unit have randomly selected the third winner from all households who have participated over the third three-month period of the survey, and would like to offer their congratulations to the winners, a family in St. Helier.

More information about the Household Spending and Income Survey

Finding out the types, quantities and cost of things which Jersey households spend their money on is vital for a number of official statistics to be produced. For example the Retail Prices Index (RPI), which tracks changes in the cost of products and services, involves pricing the range of goods and services which different households spend their money on. To calculate the RPI, statisticians give more weight (i.e. importance) to some goods or services than others, depending on what proportion of the typical household’s income is spent on those goods or services.

It is vital to everyone that the RPI is accurate, as it is not only a key economic measure, but also often affects pay negotiations and rents, and is taken into account when updating a variety of benefits. 

The survey also aims to collect information on the income sources for households. This will show the income distribution for Jersey households. That information can then be used in many ways, such as to analyse the impact of income support and benefits, or to investigate the effect of housing costs on income levels.

Every two weeks, letters are sent to randomly selected households by the Statistics Unit. One of the unit’s trained field-workers then visits each household to talk through the survey and answer any questions they might have. The field-worker will arrange to return at a convenient time to lead the household through a series of questions on, for example, the household make-up, and large or regular purchases. The household will then be asked to keep a spending diary over the next fortnight, and will be given further help from the field-worker if needed.

The HSIS runs for a year to ensure we can capture different spending patterns throughout the year – for example spending is typically higher in the build up to Christmas.

Any information given by households in this survey will be treated as strictly confidential, and will not be shared with anyone outside the Statistics Unit. Within the Unit, the information will only be used to produce aggregate (grouped) statistics so that no person, household, or small group of households can be identifiable in the results. Under no circumstances will household records be made available to any other States departments or private organisations.

Background on RPI

The RPI measures changes in the cost of a representative selection of goods and services bought by Jersey households. More than 500 items are included in the Index, ranging from food and drink to insurance, rent, larger goods like TVs, and services such as hairdressing.  The RPI measures the average change in price for all these items, normally compared to the same quarter a year ago. It therefore also measures the rate at which all prices are changing (also known as the rate of inflation).

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