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Provides common questions and answers and contact details for all enquiries about the ONS website.

Tips on finding content

Our content has been structured around types of content (for example, Publications, Data), and also by topic (for example, information relating to the economy, population).

You can find content using either or both of these criteria, or by just simply searching 'everything'.

We've also made our headline information easier to find, with the inclusion of Key Figures.

Here are some tips on the different ways you can get to the content you want:


To search for a specific phrase, for example 'labour market statistics', put quotation marks around the phrase.

This can be useful if you know exactly what you are looking for, such as a publication title. Without the quotation marks, it would find content that contains any of the words in the phrase you searched for.

The search box in the top right of all pages will search everything on the site. Search boxes within specific areas of the site, for example the Publications tab, will only search through that type of content.

More advice can be found on our Search help page.

Sorting and filtering search results

You can sort and filter your search returns to help pinpoint the content you're looking for.

The search returns have three headings: Title, Date and Type.

You can sort by any of these by clicking on the heading.

For example, to show the most recent items first, click on the ‘Release date’ heading and the results will be sorted by release date order.

Key figures

Key figures provide headline statistics at a glance, for example the population of the UK and the latest inflation figure.

Some Key figures are shown on the homepage, and get updated automatically when a new release is made.

Clicking on a specific key figure takes you to the release the figure came from. Clicking on the 'Key figures' link on the home page, takes you to the full set of key figures.

See Key figures.

Finding information by topic or theme

The 'Browse by theme’ feature enables you to see all the information we have available for any theme or topic.

All theme and topic pages look and work in the same way.

The content is divided into type of output: summaries, publications, data, guidance and methodology.

The latest information for each of these output types is shown.

To see all content within a theme or topic click the 'View everything for...' link at the top of the page.

To see all content for a particular type of content within a theme or topic click on the relevant 'View all...' links.

There are five layers in the topic structure. The top layer is referred to as a ‘theme’, the next layer (which is a heading only) is referred to as a ‘subject’, the third layer is the ‘topic’ and layers below that are ‘sub-topics’.

Essentially, when we produce an output we tag that content to the relevant themes and topics. This means that when a user navigates using ‘Browse by theme’, it shows the user all the content that has been tagged to that theme or topic.

Finding information by type of content

Towards the top of all website pages are a set of tabs that can take you directly to the type of content you want:

  • Home - clicking on this from wherever you are, will take you directly to the homepage

  • Browse by theme - clicking on this shows the top three levels of the complete topic structure. This is an alternative to drilling through the topic structure using the themes on the left hand side of the homepage. The taxonomy, used for the Browse by theme, on this website was designed to cover all Official Statistics produced across Government. Primary responsibility for producing information on some of these themes rests with individual government departments, rather than ONS

  • Publications - for searching just for publications, which includes statistical bulletins, articles, reports, journals and books

  • Data - allows you to search all data (reference tables and datasets), or just within reference tables, or just within datasets. You can also search for timeseries data using the series identifier

  • Release calendar - for if you want to search by data release, of content already released or planned in the future. The list defaults to the last 30 days, this can be removed by using the 'clear selected filters' option

  • Guidance and methodology - information that supports and provides background information to our outputs

  • Media centre - aimed at media users who want direct access to our news releases

  • About ONS - where we hold our corporate information

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Using the website

Why don’t my bookmarks still work?

All pages on the new website start with '' but most pages on the old website started with ''. The structure of content on the new website is also different, to help improve navigation round the site. These changes mean that the addresses for most pages will be different.

Saved links and bookmarks that users have created on their own systems, browsers, or in documentation, will generally no longer work.

Links within releases migrated from the old ONS website will not be updated and so will no longer work. A standard message will appear at the top of these releases warning that links within them may be broken.

Links to ONS releases from the UK Publication Hub will continue to work.

Can I still access the old website?

The old ONS website was switched off from public view when the new website was launched. All required content has been migrated to the new website.

How can I bookmark a specific publication?

The new ONS website follows a release edition based format. This means that each new edition of a release will have its own unique location. Therefore if you are interested in a specific edition of a publication, you can bookmark it.

If you are interested in all editions of a particular release, you can bookmark the page accesible via the ‘All editions of this release' link on the release page. Alternatively you can bookmark a specific page of the taxonomy which contains the release you are interested in. 

I am having problems downloading Datasets

There is a known issue when trying to download Datasets in some spreadsheet packages due to the size of the files. This is due to a limitation within the spreadsheets themselves regarding the number of columns, normally 256.

In Excel for example, versions prior to 2007 will experience this problem for large datasets (those with greater than 256 columns).

If you are experiencing problems, a free viewer for Excel can be downloaded from the Microsoft website


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Labour Market

Where can I find regional and UK employment?

The Labour Market Statistics Regional Monthly Data contains Regional and UK employment figures. These data provide the latest employment, unemployment and claimant count data, at regional and sub-regional levels, on a monthly basis.

The Labour Market Statistical Bulletin provides the latest employment, unemployment and claimant count data, for the UK alone, also on a monthly basis.

What does economically active/inactive mean?

'Economically active' people are people aged 16 and over who are either in employment or unemployed. 

'Economically inactive' people are people who are neither in employment nor unemployment on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) measure. These include those who want a job but have not been seeking work in the last four weeks, those who want a job and are seeking work but are not available to start, and those who do not want a job. For example this group includes people under the age of 16, those looking after a home, and those that are retired. 

What is the difference between claimant count and Job Seeker Allowance (JSA) recipients?

The claimant count measures the number of people who are claiming unemployment related benefits. Since October 1996 this has been the number of people claiming Job Seeker Allowance.


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Where can I find regional Gross Value Added (GVA)?

The Regional GVA statistics contains data at Nomenclature of Units for Territorial Statistics (NUTS) level.

Do you have forecasts for GDP?

Economic forecasts are not produced by ONS; these are sourced to HM Treasury.

Where can I find regional household income?

The latest regional, and sub-regional, household income can be found in the Regional Household Income publication.

Where can I find consumer spending figures?

The Consumer Trends publication has details of Household Final Consumption Expenditure (HHFC). Figures are only available for the UK as a whole. Please be aware that some of these tables are in £ millions and some are shown as an index value.

Where can I find family spending?

Family Spending data is available from 1993 onwards, the most recent edition contains data going back to 2000.

Inflation (RPI/CPI)

How is inflation calculated? 

Every month the price of a representative item, a brand for example, is collected by a Price Collector.

These prices are first collected in January, which is known as the 'base' month. They are then collected on the same day, each and every month, for a period of thirteen months.

Every month price indices are constructed, which compare the latest prices with those of the base month.

These price indices are first aggregated to items, and then to sections, which becomes the published level. They are then rescaled to a reference point of January 1987=100.

This allows price changes to be compared to the previous year.

Which measure should I use to calculate pay rises - RPI and AWE?

There is no definitive measure that has to be applied to salary increases.

Some employers use Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation and others use the Average Weekly Earnings (AWE). Often the relevant measure is referred to in the employment contract.

Where can I find regional inflation? 

Regional inflation is not presently available, only data for the UK as a whole.

How does the RPI figure affect my rent? 

A rental agreement will either refer an increase to the overall RPI figure or the rent subgroup within the RPI, these figures will differ.

Where can I find inflation forecasts?

CPI/RPI forecasts are not produced by ONS; these are sourced to HM Treasury

Where can I find the latest basket of goods?

Latest details of the shopping basket, that has been used to compile both the CPI and RPI, can be found in the CPI and RPI Basket of Goods and Services


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Where can I find population by ethnicity?

Population estimates by ethnic group, are available for 2011. These estimates are by age and by sex, and cover England and its constituent administrative areas, being Government Office Regions, counties and local authority districts.

Where can I find information on UK residents by country of birth/nationality by region?

This data is sourced to, and can be found in, the ONS Annual Population Survey

Where can I find population estimates?

The Population Estimates for UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland publication contains mid-year estimates of the resident population, by age and by sex, covering a range of geographies, down to local authority level.

Where can I find population projections?

The National Population Projections publication contains projected population counts of the resident population, by age and by sex, for UK, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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Where can I find information on UK businesses?

The publication Annual Business Survey provides information on UK businesses.

Where can I find production reports?

These can be found in the latest PRODucts of the European COMmunity (PRODCOM) reports.

Where can I find regional UK business information?

The publication UK Business: Activity, Size and Location contains all Regional UK business information.


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Where can I find information on super output areas?

Guidance on super output areas (SOAs) can be found on the geography pages of the ONS website; this guidance includes names and codes for Super Output Geography.

Where can I find area classifications?

ONS Geography maintains files containing the area names and codes, for a wide range of geographies, used in statistical production. These can be found on the geography pages.


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Where can I find a list of classifications?

The Statistical Classifications and Standards page provides lists and guidance.


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Website improvements

We value your feedback and are continually enhancing the site to improve your user experience.

If you would like to provide suggestions or feedback about this website, please contact us.


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Other FAQs

Where can I find information on copyright?

For information regarding copyrights visit our Copyright Information page.

Can I put a link to ONS on my website?

You do not have to ask permission to hyperlink to pages on the Office for National Statistics website.

Where can I find a list of release dates?

Release dates for ONS publications can be found on the Release Calendar

Release dates for all UK National Statistics, across Government departments, can be found on the Publication Hub. You can search for specific releases, as well as find future and past release dates.


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Contact us

For questions not covered in the FAQs, or to make any other queries, you can find our details on the contact us page


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