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Living Costs and Food Survey (LCF) FAQs

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Frequently asked questions about the Living Costs and Food Survey (LCF).

Why is this survey important?

We need high-quality information about individual and household spending patterns and the relationship between diet, nutrition and health.

The survey enables us to provide information on changes in spending patterns and the cost of living that reflects household budgets throughout the country.

The survey also informs government policy about changes in diet.

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Why should I take part?

Whatever your circumstances, they are relevant to this survey.

Obtaining information from as many selected households as possible is the only way we can get a complete and accurate picture of the nation's spending patterns and changes in diet.

By taking part in the survey you will ensure that your experiences and circumstances become an important part of the bigger picture of life in the UK today and will be helping to influence matters that affect us all.

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What is involved?

An interviewer will arrange a suitable time to visit you to conduct the interview.

All questionnaire data are collected face-to-face using computer assisted questionnaires.

The interviewer will collect information about how you manage your household finances.

The interviewer will also leave each person a diary to record details of their expenditure.

If there are children in the household they too are encouraged to complete a shorter diary.

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How will the information I provide be used?

Government departments use the results of the survey to identify how and where they should be using public resources.

They use the information to check how different groups are affected by existing policies and to inform future policy changes.

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Who is carrying out the survey?

The Living Costs and Food survey is being conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the government's largest producer of statistics.

We compile independent information about the UK's society and economy which provides evidence for policy- and decision-making and for directing resources to where they are needed most.

The ten-yearly census, measures of inflation, the National Accounts, and population and migration statistics are some of our highest-profile outputs.

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Will I be paid for taking part?

To reflect the importance we place on your assistance, a gift of a £10 voucher will be sent to each adult person interviewed who also completes their diary.

Children, aged 7 to 15, who complete the diary will receive £5.

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Do I have to take part?

Our work is very important and we need your help to make our studies successful. Every year about half a million people help us by taking part in our studies. No-one has to take part if they do not want to, but for us to paint an accurate picture of our society, it is vital that we interview as many people as possible, from all walks of life.

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Is the survey confidential?

Yes, the information you give us will be treated as confidential as directed by the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. It will be used to produce statistics that will not identify you or anyone in your household. Survey information is also provided to other approved organisations for statistical purposes only. All such statistics produced are subject to the Code and the same standards of protection are applied to your information at all times.

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Why have I been selected?

Households are selected at random from the Royal Mail's Postcode Address File and each year approximately 12,000 addresses are selected.

Once selected we cannot replace you with another household.

This means your participation is very important to the success of this official survey in ensuring that all groups are properly represented.

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Who can I contact for further information?

If you have any further queries about taking part in the survey please contact the Survey Enquiry Line on 0800 298 5313.

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Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.