Arts Council of Wales | New approach to surveys in Wales

New approach to surveys in Wales

The Welsh Government and Welsh Government Sponsored Bodies commission a range of large-scale surveys of people in Wales. They include the National Survey for Wales, the Welsh Health Survey, the Active Adults Survey, the Arts in Wales Survey, and the Welsh Outdoor Recreation Survey.

Review of options

In May 2014, we commissioned a review of options for how these surveys could be carried out in future. The review was based on desk research and interviews with survey managers and included a review of similar work in other countries. The three main options considered were:

  • using cheaper survey methods such as telephone or online;
  • reducing the number of interviews or frequency of data collection; and
  • integrating two or more surveys into a single survey.

The report informed our decision on how to carry out large-scale surveys in future. The report is available on this page (see link under "Details").

Decision on the way forward

Based on this report and on wider discussions, it has been decided to amalgamate the National Survey, the Welsh Health Survey, the Arts in Wales Survey and the Welsh Outdoor Recreation Survey into a single survey. The Welsh Government is in discussions with Sport Wales over including the Active Adults Survey.

This approach was agreed by the Welsh Government Cabinet on 20 October 2014; from w/c 1 December 2014 the Cabinet paper is available here.

Features of the new approach

The new survey will begin in 2016-17, will involve a random sample of around 12,000 people across Wales each year, and will be carried out face-to-face in people’s homes. It will continue to provide the high-quality information needed by survey users, but more cost-effectively compared with continuing the current approach.

The new approach has a range of other advantages. It will allow for much richer analysis across topics currently included in separate surveys. It will mean that people across Wales spend much less time taking part in our surveys. It will also allow us to minimise the risk of fieldwork problems as we will not have different surveys competing for the same pool of interviewers.

However, the new approach means that in bringing together the separate surveys, we need to reduce their overall length by around 20%. This can be managed by asking some topics less often (e.g. where results are slow-changing) and other topics only of subsamples of respondents (e.g. where the results are only required at a national or regional level: a more efficient use of survey time). Some topics that are low-priority or no longer needed will be dropped completely.

It is vital that the new approach as far as possible provides us with a continuation of some of our key time series of results. Therefore we will carry out testing and development work to maximise continuity, or at least be able to quantify any discontinuities.

Next steps

We will be developing the new approach during 2015-16. As a first step a public consultation is being held on the broad topics to include in the new survey. More details about the consultation are available here. The consultation runs from 27 November 2014 to 18 February 2015. The Welsh Health Survey consultation carried out earlier in 2014 will feed in to work to develop topics for the new survey.

The Active Adults Survey and Welsh Outdoor Recreation Surveys currently in the field will finish by the end of 2014. Fieldwork for the current National Survey will end in March 2015; and the Welsh Health Survey will finish at the end of 2015. Outputs from these surveys will be published as usual during 2015 and 2016.

If you would like more details about the new survey approach, please see this update from the Welsh Government’s Chief Statistician or contact Ann Kellaway

Stakeholder update on new survey approach

Registered Charity Number 1034245