The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is committed to providing the public, businesses and policymakers with the best possible information through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
We have introduced new surveys, developed new insight, used new data sources and published new cross-cutting analysis in our response to demands for trustworthy and up-to-date statistics throughout the pandemic. We have made a wide range of data available for analysis through our website and the secure research service, and have provided researchers with access to our data through partnerships including with Health Data Research UK. In addition, we have maintained and developed existing statistics to assess the impact the pandemic has had on our society and economy. These are all included as part of our dedicated COVID-19 web page. Our work has been at the heart of the UK’s information about how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting our people, economy and environment.
We published our first analytical work programme in response to COVID-19 in June with the aim of making it easier for our users to get a comprehensive overview of work already underway or planned. Much of that work is now complete, and we have updated it with links to all the analysis that has now been published. This second plan looks to the future, outlining our upcoming analytical work programme for the remainder of 2020, building on and providing a summary of work already completed.
It should be noted that this work programme will remain under constant review to take account of the changing nature of the pandemic and is therefore subject to change. We will be flexible and responsive to new or urgent requirements emerging and will look to accommodate new data sources as they become available. We will, of course, ensure we inform our users as we do so.
Health – understanding the transmission rate of, and deaths related to, COVID-19
We successfully launched the COVID-19 Infection Survey in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, collecting swab and antibody tests in the population. The latest results for England and Wales are published in a weekly bulletin, with the first results from Northern Ireland expected to be published in the coming weeks. We have also provided more detailed analysis of the characteristics of those testing positive for COVID-19.
Since the end of March 2020, we have published more detailed analysis in our weekly deaths releases. They provide further insight into the number of deaths involving COVID-19, by age, sex, region and setting. Other analysis has also shown the differing impacts by local area and deprivation levels, ethnic group, disability, occupation and religion and provide further insights on deaths within the care sector.
We also published an exploration of trends in non-COVID-19 deaths, how they compare with the five-year average and how the nature of deaths may have changed from previous years when total numbers of non-COVID-19 deaths have returned to more expected levels. We have also been providing analytical support to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) through quantified estimates of the coronavirus pandemic’s direct and indirect effects on the health of the population.
Following considerable interest in international comparisons of mortality during the pandemic, we produced analysis comparing excess all-cause mortality in 2020 with other European countries.
We also published our investigation into any potential correlation between common air pollutants and COVID-19-related mortality.
continue to measure the rate of infection and antibody testing of COVID-19 in the general population; this survey is being delivered in partnership with the University of Oxford, the University of Manchester, Public Health England and the Wellcome Trust – high level estimates are published every Friday
continue to publish monthly updates on the characteristics of people testing positive for COVID-19 – 28 September
bring together COVID-19 statistics and continue to publish ad hoc analyses from the COVID-19 Infection Survey on areas such as the international travel, and we will provide supporting information on the methodological differences between various data sources – ongoing
continue to publish provisional weekly deaths for England and Wales – published every Tuesday
provide insight into the similarities and differences between deaths due to COVID-19 compared with deaths from Influenza and Pneumonia – 8 October
update our analysis of COVID-19 deaths by ethnicity – 16 October
continue to publish the monthly mortality surveillance bulletins, which include deaths related to COVID-19 as well as general mortality – 23 October
provide further insight into deaths from COVID-19 in private homes – October
produce analysis on the spatial and temporal clustering of deaths involving COVID-19 – autumn
Social impact – how people are responding to the pandemic and how society has changed
Using the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN), we have been providing weekly updates on how the coronavirus pandemic has been affecting the whole population as well as focused analysis on those with a disability, young people, older people, personal and economic well-being, the impact on caring, and homeschooling during this time. We have produced estimates of levels of depression in adults in Great Britain during the pandemic and how this has changed compared with pre-pandemic levels. We have also produced analysis on the effect of the pandemic on perceptions of unity, kindness and equality. The flexible nature of this survey means we have been able to adapt our questions as the pandemic, and the subsequent response to the pandemic, has changed.
We have also produced initial estimates from the Time Use Survey on how people have spent their time during lockdown. We also provided contextual analysis on household spending and parenting during lockdown and recent insight on housing indicators during the coronavirus period.
We have published regular analysis of how clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people have been affected by the pandemic. The Shielding Behavioural Survey has shed light on people’s behaviours and their physical or mental well-being.
Using the newly introduced telephone-based Crime Survey, we have published estimates about people’s experience of crime during lockdown alongside police recorded crime during this time to give a more complete picture of how the pandemic has affected levels of crime.
We also produced an analysis of access to gardens and public green space in Great Britain to look into how people with a range of characteristics have access to a garden and how far they are from their nearest park or other green space.
continue to publish weekly estimates on attitudes and behaviours from the OPN – headline estimates published every Thursday and the full publication published every Friday
provide bespoke analysis on particular topics or subgroups of the population using the OPN as appropriate – ongoing
continue to provide insight on how personal and economic well-being has changed during the pandemic and which groups have been most impacted – ongoing
continue to monitor how the situation could be supported by additional analysis to understand the environmental effects of the crises alongside social and economic effects; these might be through stand-alone analyses or within other work outlined in this statement, including the links between physical and mental health and environment, such as air quality and access to nature, and mobility, through low carbon and active travel options – ongoing
explore the use of mobility data to enhance official statistics related to mobility, for example, population estimates, migration, travel, tourism, trade and the environment, with a focus on spatio-temporal disaggregation, and the short- and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – ongoing
explore how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the health and well-being of children and young people and how mental health outcomes of children have changed since 2017; this analysis is being delivered in partnership with NatCen and NHS Digital – ongoing
provide insight into the experience of different ethnic groups using Understanding Society – November
use new data sources to monitor migration, travel and tourism, following the suspension of the International Passenger Survey (IPS) earlier in the year – November
provide further insights on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on migration, including the impact on international students and the labour market – Autumn
measure human capital impacts from the coronavirus pandemic in relation to long-term health conditions and children’s development – Late 2020
bring together a range of available data sources to publish an article on domestic abuse during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown – Late 2020
follow up our previous analysis of how time use has changed as the pandemic has continued – Late 2020
Labour market – exploring how working life patterns are changing as a result of the pandemic
In addition to our labour market statistical releases, which include the latest data on employment, earnings, vacancies and jobs, we have also published additional analyses on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the labour market. These include analysis on self-employment, working parents, older workers and businesses’ furloughing.
As homeworking became more prevalent, we explored the ability to work from home including technology as an enabler, producing further analyses on homeworking. By collecting weekly information on employment, the Labour Market Survey (LMS) enabled us to provide in-depth analysis of coronavirus and homeworking in April.
We have focused on the occupations of employees, exploring those in occupations with the highest potential exposure to COVID-19, key workers, and those switching occupation in the first six months of 2020.
Meeting the need for rapid and real-time data, we have published experimental data on the number of payroll employees from HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC’s) Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Real Time Information (RTI) and weekly estimates of Adzuna job vacancies. Our single-month and new weekly Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates also offer rapid insights into the impact of the pandemic.
continue to develop and publish early indicators of employment and earnings using multiple sources including administrative data – ongoing
further develop understanding of occupational flows through the pandemic, with a focus on individual characteristics of the job movers, such as sex, age and qualifications – ongoing
continue to analyse changes in the uptake of homeworking using the LFS, LMS, OPN and Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS) data and explore the link to productivity impacts – ongoing
publish further analysis from the LMS, a new online survey, collecting labour market data connected with COVID-19 – ongoing
produce demographic analysis of the LFS, including those who are unemployed or inactive, with a focus on young people – 28 September
publish further analysis of occupation shifting and qualification mismatch, including collaboration with external academics – 2 November
explore the scarring effects of the pandemic on unemployment and returning to employment within the human capital workplan – late 2020
develop further regional breakdowns of job vacancies (Adzuna) data to local authority level (or similar) and by occupation and skill level – by the end of 2020
Economic impact – how the economy is reacting to the pandemic
Our regular economic statistics releases have included up-to-date analysis reflecting the impact of the pandemic on gross domestic product (GDP), public sector finances, retail sales and productivity.
Additional articles have focussed on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on output in the economy, the UK Balance of Payments, the UK’s financial accounts, institutional sector accounts and UK trade (focussing on goods).
The fortnightly BICS has enabled us to provide rapid analysis on business turnover, workforce and use of government support schemes. Using data from BICS, we have produced dedicated articles on furloughing, international trade, expectations over time (using textual analysis) and over multiple waves. Wider business impacts have been analysed within the exporting and importing by UK businesses release and through quarterly experimental statistics on business demography.
The alternative basket analysis and consumer prices basket adjusted for consumption changes during lockdown offered further insights into the prices faced by consumers throughout the pandemic. We have developed a timely indication of weekly price changes for a selection of food and drink products following from our initial analysis of our online price change for high demand products.
continue to publish weekly estimates from BICS to show how businesses are impacted by the pandemic and emerging issues – published weekly on a Thursday, with more detailed results published fortnightly
continue to publish early indicators of economic and social impacts of coronavirus through our latest indicators work programme – published weekly
provide analysis of our regular short-term economic surveys and BICS to understand the differential impacts of the pandemic on industries and businesses – published at least monthly in the regular bulletins
publish analysis on the impact on trade flows, likely to be coupled with additional analysis around end of EU exit transition arrangements and future trade deals – ongoing
analyse the support schemes announced by government and their impact on the public sector finances and examine how the pandemic has affected both public sector receipts and borrowing – ongoing
explore the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on productivity, including the divergence of measures and measurement challenges – ongoing
produce additional analysis on sub-UK economic impact, including a focus on towns, spatial analysis and coastal towns – ongoing
publish detailed understanding of household finances and savings between different types of households – ongoing
explore differences on the return of assets and liabilities in the period prior to the coronavirus pandemic through analysis using the Financial Services Survey for January to March 2020 – 5 October
analyse the impact of changes in purchasing habits and government intervention on inflation including Value Added Tax (VAT) changes and “Eat Out to Help Out” – autumn
explore the impact of a firm’s management practices – early 2021
Sources and surveys
Each release will use the best sources available. We hope that by using multiple sources in our analysis, we can provide new insights during this difficult time. We have stood up a number of surveys to help us collect this information to provide timely and relevant analysis to inform the public and support the government response to the pandemic.
Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey
BICS is a fortnightly survey of over 20,000 businesses. It includes questions on turnover, workforce, use of government support schemes, international trade, prices and more, both as fortnightly outturns and fortnightly expectations. Microdata are now available in the secure research service.
Opinions and Lifestyle Survey
The OPN is a weekly survey of 2,000 to 2,500 individuals in Great Britain. It includes questions on opinions and attitudes towards the coronavirus pandemic, behaviours including social distancing, contact with others, work, transport, hygiene, homeschooling, and a range of indicators on well-being. Questions are updated regularly as we move through the pandemic. Microdata are now available in the secure research service.
Labour Market Survey
The LMS is an online survey, alongside the LFS. It includes core questions about employment activities and related information as well as questions to assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people’s employment and working patterns. Analysis will be available in due course, with the reference period from the start of April.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey
The COVID-19 Infection Survey provides estimates of the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community based on swab and blood tests, currently broken down by age, sex, region and whether in patient-facing role as well as further breakdowns published at monthly frequency.
Time Use Survey
The Time Use Survey is a detailed survey asking respondents for what they were doing in each 10-minute part of the day. It provides a comprehensive account of how individuals use their time and feel during their day. The richness of the data offers unique insight into life during lockdown, covering policy-relevant topics such as working from home, informal caring, social interactions and online activity, among other things. Data are available for the UK for 2020, 2014 to 2015, 2005, 2000 to 2001 and 1995 but may be acquired as far back as the 1960s.
The Crime Survey will be conducted as a telephone survey, with a coronavirus module. This is because of the suspension of face-to-face interviews for the Crime Survey in England and Wales (CSEW).
Alongside these available sources, the disruption of coronavirus has resulted in issues for us collecting some of our usual statistics. We have suspended all face-to-face interviewing in our social surveys and, for now, we have moved to telephone-based interviewing or using online surveys, which has impacts across some of our existing series.
The suspension of the IPS has an impact across our migration, trade, and overseas travel and tourism statistics. For our migration statistics, we are planning to use administrative data to deliver new measures of migration from 2020 onwards. The August 2020 Migration Statistics Quarterly Report was the last set of migration statistics based on IPS data. More information is available in our overview release: Population and migration statistics systems transformation. For trade and tourism, we have published a statement explaining the impact of the suspension on these statistics.
For our economic statistics, collecting information with many shops closed, businesses ceasing to trade and no interviewers to knock on doors caused a measurement challenge during the early stages of the pandemic. To address these collection issues, we published three articles looking at the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on national accounts, prices and our labour market statistics, and we have since released information on our updated approach to resuming a field-based price collection, although this will be kept under constant review as restrictions evolve.