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Statement by the Office for National Statistics (ONS): The Wealth and Assets Survey

Statistics from the Wealth and Assets Survey (WAS) are widely used in public policy debate, including in assessing the extent of inequalities in Great Britain. WAS is a large sample survey specifically designed to collect information on all aspects of individual and household wealth for all private households across Great Britain. It has therefore become the prime source of data for estimating wealth across the whole of the population.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) also publish a long running time series of personal wealth statistics which take the wealth of estates as reported on a sample of administrative Inheritance Tax returns and projects it to the living population. This source is a valuable tool in assessing how the wealth of the population has changed over time, but is known to only cover a subset of the population and these statistics are not therefore used primarily for estimating total wealth in the UK or wealth inequality across the whole of the population.

ONS is developing a methodological note, which will be published on Friday 18th July, giving more details on the differences between these two sources of wealth estimates.

Further information on the Wealth and Assets Survey can be found at http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/was/wealth-in-great-britain-wave-3/2010-2012/index.html or by contacting Elaine Chamberlain on wealth.and.assets.survey@ons.gsi.gov.uk.

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