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Statistical bulletin: Index of Services, January 2015 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 31 March 2015 Download PDF

Main points

  • The Index of Services is estimated to have increased by 3.2% in January 2015 compared with January 2014. All of the 4 main components of the services industries increased in the most recent month compared with the same month a year ago.
  • The largest contributions came from: business services and finance, which contributed 1.5 percentage points to total growth; and distribution, hotels and restaurants, which contributed 0.9 percentage points to total growth.
  • The latest Index of Services estimates show that output decreased by 0.2% between December 2014 and January 2015.
  • The Index of Services increased by 0.9% in Quarter 4 (October to December) 2014 compared with Quarter 3 (July to September) 2014. This figure was revised up by 0.1 percentage points from the estimate of 0.8% included in the Second Estimate of GDP published on 26 February 2015 and is consistent with the Quarterly National Accounts published on 31 March 2015.
  • The figures within this release are estimates and are on a seasonally adjusted basis. The earliest period open for revision in this release is January 2014.

Understanding the Index of Services (IoS)

About the IoS

The monthly IoS provides a timely indicator of growth in the output of the services industries. The IoS is a key economic indicator and shares exactly the same industry coverage as the corresponding quarterly series with UK gross domestic product (GDP). The primary purpose of the IoS is to produce a short-term measure of the output of the services industries within the UK economy and show the monthly movements in the gross value added (GVA) of the service industries (2007 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC 2007) sections G to T). The 4 main components of the services industries are: distribution, hotels and restaurants; transport storage and communication; business services and finance; and government and other services. The IoS is the largest contributor to the output approach to the measurement of GDP, accounting for 78.4% of UK GDP as at 2011.

All data in this bulletin are seasonally adjusted estimates and have had the effect of price changes removed (in other words, the data are deflated). Further information on some of the main concepts (including seasonal adjustment and deflation) underlying the estimates can be found in background note 11.

The quality of the IoS

The IoS is published around 8 weeks after the end of the reference month. There is no simple way of measuring the accuracy of the IoS, that is, the extent to which the estimate measures the underlying ‘true’ value of the output growth (of the services industries) in the UK for a particular period. All estimates, by definition, are subject to statistical uncertainty and for many well-established statistics the Office for National Statistics (ONS) measures and publishes the sampling error associated with the estimate, using this as an indicator of accuracy. The IoS however, is constructed from a wide variety of data sources, some of which are not based on random samples. As a result ONS does not publish a measure of the sampling error associated with the IoS. 

Reliability is 1 dimension of measuring accuracy using evidence from analyses of revisions to assess the closeness of early estimates to subsequent estimated values. Revisions are an inevitable consequence of the trade-off between timeliness and accuracy. Figures for the most recent months are provisional and subject to revision in light of (a) late responses to surveys and administrative sources, (b) forecasts being replaced by actual data and (c) revisions to seasonal adjustment factors, which are re-estimated every month and reviewed annually. Revisions to the IoS are typically small (around 0.1 to 0.2 percentage points), with the frequency of upward and downward revisions broadly equal. More information on the most recent revisions analysis can be found in the component analysis section and in background note 16.

It should be noted that care should be taken when using the month-on-month growth rates, due to their volatility (see background note 10).

Further information on the quality of the IOS (29 Kb Pdf) is available in the Quality of the IoS report on the Index of Services Methods web page. It should be noted that as part of the IoS industry review process, ONS is continually working on methodological changes to improve the accuracy of the IoS.

Main Information

Table 1: Index of Services Main information, January 2015

United Kingdom

(Percentage change)
    Index number (2011=100) Most recent month on a year earlier Most recent 3 months on a year earlier Most recent month on previous month Most recent 3 months on previous 3 months
Index of Services 108.7 3.2 3.3 -0.2 0.8

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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The Index of Services (IoS) measures the quantity of output from all UK services industries, which account for more than 3 quarters of the output approach to the measurement of gross domestic product. Index values are presently referenced to 2011 so that the average for 2011 is equal to 100. Therefore, an index value of 110 would indicate that output is 10% higher than the average for 2011.

As seen in Figure 1, the IoS increased by 3.2% in January 2015 compared with January 2014. In order of their contribution to growth (see reference table IOS1): business services and finance increased by 3.7%; distribution, hotels and restaurants increased by 5.2%; transport, storage and communication increased by 4.4%; and government and other services increased by 0.6%. Further detail on these movements can be found in the component analysis section.

Figure 1: IoS contributions(1) to the month-on-month a year ago percentage change, January 2015

United Kingdom

Figure 1: IoS contributions(1) to the month-on-month a year ago percentage change, January 2015
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Individual contributions may not sum to the total due to rounding.
  2. Percentage change.

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Between December 2014 and January 2015, as seen in Figure 2, the IoS decreased by 0.2%. Out of the 4 main components, 2 decreased. In order of their contribution to growth (see reference table IOS1): business services and finance decreased by 0.6%; and government and other services decreased by 0.1%. In contrast, the remaining 2 main components increased. In order of their contribution to growth: transport, storage and communication increased by 0.5%; and distribution, hotels and restaurants increased by 0.1%.

Industries reporting a decrease between December 2014 and January 2015, in order of their contribution to growth, included: other professional services activities, which decreased by 1.2%; warehousing and support activities for transportation, which decreased by 3.5%; and other services activities, which decreased by 1.4%. In contrast, industries reporting increases included: publishing audiovisual and broadcasting activities, which increased by 2.2%; and human health and social work activities, which increased by 0.4%.

More detail on individual components can be found in the IOSCOMP tables in the data section of this bulletin. The tables also provide information on the growth for the 3 months ending in January 2015 compared with the previous 3 months and compared with the 3 months ending January 2014.

Figure 2: IoS contributions(1) to the month-on-month a year ago percentage change, January 2015

United Kingdom

Figure 2: IoS contributions(1) to the month-on-month a year ago percentage change, January 2015
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Individual contributions may not sum to the total due to rounding.
  2. Percentage change.

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Economic background

Total services grew by 3.2% between January 2014 and January 2015, despite a fall of 0.2% between December 2014 and January 2015.

Historically, the services industries have grown at a faster rate than all other headline industries. While GDP has grown at an average annual rate of 2.0% since 1997, services has grown at an average annual rate of 2.8%. This has led to a continuing re-orientation of the economy towards services, despite productivity in the services industry rising more slowly than in the production industry (and manufacturing in particular) since 1997 (more information can be found in the Labour Productivity, Q3 2014 release).The higher output growth therefore reflects the increasing share of the labour force employed in services, which grew from 73% to 79% between 1997 and 2014 (see Labour Market Statistics, February 2015 release, reference table EMP13).

In addition to a strong long run performance, the services industries were also least affected by the downturn in 2008 and they recovered quickly after. They are mainly responsible for the recovery of the economy as a whole, being the only industry grouping to have surpassed its pre-downturn peak.

Figure 3: Index of Services and sub-components, 1997 to 2014

United Kingdom

Figure 3: Index of Services and sub-components, 1997 to 2014
Source: Office for National Statistics

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However growth within services has varied, with Figure 3 showing a clear divide between the growth rates of the 4 main industry groupings since 1997. The industry grouping which has grown the most over this period is transport, storage and communication, despite being 1 of the hardest hit during the 2008 downturn. Much of this growth came from telecommunications and computing, coinciding with advancement in technology in these industries over the period. Business services and finance has also been an important driver of growth in services. This industry grouping, along with transport, storage and communication, has nearly doubled in size since 1997.

Growth in the remaining 2 industry groupings has been more modest, with neither of them growing as much as overall GDP since 1997.  The distribution, hotels and restaurants industry grouping has seen similar movements to GDP, whereas growth in government and other services has been slower and more stable, even during the economic downturn.

GDP impact and components

With a weight of 78.4%, the services industries are the largest industrial grouping in the output approach to measuring GDP. To aid users, the releases for the short-term economic indicators that feed directly into the output approach to measuring GDP include a table detailing growth in the 4 main industrial groupings (Table 2). It is anticipated that this will help users better understand the relationship between the individual short-term releases and GDP output.

In Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2014, GDP was estimated to have increased by 0.6% compared with the previous quarter. The contribution an industry grouping makes to the GDP quarterly growth is dependent on the quarterly change in that industry grouping and its weight within the output approach to measuring GDP.

Figure 4: GDP contribution(1) to the quarter-on-quarter percentage change, Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2014

United Kingdom

Figure 4: GDP contribution(1) to the quarter-on-quarter percentage change, Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2014
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Contributions are to output gross value added and therefore may not sum to the percentage change in GDP. More information on the difference between the 2 measures can be found in the Short Guide to National Accounts.
  2. Percentage change to 1 decimal place.

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Monthly estimates are produced for each industrial grouping except agriculture. The December estimates for production and construction were published on 11 March and 13 March 2015 respectively. The Quarterly National Accounts were published on 31 March 2015 alongside this bulletin.

Table 2: GDP output component tables, Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2014, chained volume measure, seasonally adjusted

United Kingdom

(Percentage change)
Publication % of GDP Release date Month of GDP Most recent quarter on a year earlier Most recent quarter on a quarter earlier Most recent month on the same month a year ago Most recent month on the previous month
Index of Production 14.6 11-Mar Jan .. .. 1.3 -0.1
      Q4 1.0 0.2 .. ..
      Q3 1.2 0.1 .. ..
 
Construction output 6.4 13-Mar Jan .. .. -3.1 -2.6
      Q4 4.5 -2.2 .. ..
      Q3 7.2 1.7 .. ..
               
Index of Services 78.4 31-Mar Jan .. .. 3.2 -0.2
      Q4 3.4 0.9 .. ..
      Q3 3.1 0.7 .. ..
               
Retail Sales1   20-Feb Jan .. .. 5.4 -0.3
      Q4 5 2.2 .. ..
      Q3 2.8 0.4 .. ..
               
Agriculture 0.6   Q4 1.6 0.4 .. ..
      Q3 1.9 0.6 .. ..

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Data are presented as at 20 February 2015 due to timing of the availability of data.
  2. No data represented by ..

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Component analysis

Table 3: Growth rates and contributions(1) to the Index of Services, January 2015

United Kingdom

(Percentage change)
Description % of Services Month on a year earlier Volume (SA2) (%) Contribution to services (% points) Month-on-month growth Volume (SA) (%) Contribution to services (% points)
Total services industries 100 3.2 3.2 -0.2 -0.2
           
Distribution, hotels and restaurants 18 5.2 0.9 0.1 0.0
           
Transport, storage and communication 13 4.4 0.6 0.5 0.1
           
Business services and finance 39 3.7 1.5 -0.6 -0.2
           
Government and other services 30 0.6 0.2 -0.1 0.0

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Individual contributions may not sum to the total due to rounding.
  2. SA = seasonally adjusted.

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Distribution, hotels and restaurants

The index of distribution, hotels and restaurants increased by 5.2% in January 2015 compared with January 2014, following an increase of 5.4% in December 2014 compared with the same month a year earlier. The main contributors to the increase were: retail trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles, which rose by 5.5%; wholesale trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles, which rose by 4.8%; and wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, which rose by 5.8%.

Transport, storage and communication

The index of transport, storage and communication increased by 4.4% in January 2015 compared with January 2014, following an increase of 4.1% in December 2014 compared with the same month a year earlier. The main contributors to the increase were: land transport, which rose by 9.6%; computer programming, consultancy and related activities, which rose by 4.1%; and publishing audiovisual and broadcasting activities, which rose by 3.1%.

Business services and finance

The index of business services and finance increased by 3.7% in January 2015 compared with January 2014, following an increase of 4.6% in December 2014 compared with the same month a year earlier. The main contributors to the increase were: other professional service activities, which rose by 7.3%; administrative and support services activities, which rose by 6.2%; and real estate activities, which rose by 1.5%.

Government and other services

The index of government and other services increased by 0.6% in January 2015 compared with January 2014, following an increase of 1.1% in December 2014 compared with the same month a year earlier. The main contributors to the increase were: human health and social work activities, which rose by 2.2%; and other service activities, which rose by 6.1%.

Revisions

The Index of Services (IoS) follows the National Accounts Revisions policy (41.6 Kb Pdf) . Revisions are caused by a number of factors including, but not limited to, revisions to source data due to late responses, actual data replacing forecast data and revisions to seasonal factors that are re-estimated every period. More information on IoS revisions is available on the Index of Services Methods page.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) produces revisions triangles of services growth to provide users with 1 indication of the reliability of this key indicator. Statistical tests are performed on the average revision to test if it is statistically significantly different to 0. Further information can be found in background note 16.

In this release of data, the earliest period open to revision is January 2014. Across this open period, there are minimal revisions to the month-on-a-year ago and month-on-month growth rates. The growth rate for December 2014 compared with December 2013 was revised up by 0.1 percentage points from the previous estimate of 3.6%. However, the month-on-month growth rate for December 2014 compared with November 2014 (0.6%) was unrevised.

At the lower level, it should be noted that there were unusually large downward revisions in other professional service activities (section MA which includes legal activities, accounting, management consultancy, architecture, engineering and technical testing) across 2014 as a whole. The revisions were a result of updated data supplied by contributors to the Monthly Business Survey (MBS). These revisions were offset by upwards revisions within financial and insurance activities (section K) and real estate activities (section L).

Further detail on the revisions to the IoS components can be found in the RIOS1 tables in the data section of this publication.

Industry spotlight: Employment activities

According to the Standard Industrial Classification 2007 (SIC2007), employment activities (industry 78) include the activities of recruitment agencies, human resources firms, and all services that provide assistance to those seeking employment. These services are quite diverse - for example they include casting for theatre and television – but are dominated by temporary employment agency activities, which made up nearly 80% of GVA in the industry in 2014. This industry also makes up 25% of administrative and support services, which is part of the business services and finance industry grouping.

The employment activities industry is relatively small. In current prices, its output was £20 billion in 2014; this is equivalent to 1.3% of nominal GVA. However it has been one of the fastest growing industries in the whole economy, with real output growing at an average rate of 6.8% per year since 1990. Only 2 services industries have grown at a faster rate over this period: telecommunications and management consultancy activities. Figure 5 shows that it was only after 1998 that growth in output in employment activities diverged markedly from growth in the IoS.

 

Figure 5: Index of Services and employment activities 1990 to 2014

United Kingdom

Figure 5: Index of Services and employment activities 1990 to 2014
Source: Office for National Statistics

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During the downturn, real output fell by 22%. Although the subsequent recovery was quicker than for total services, there were periods of contraction between 2010 and 2012, after which the industry saw uninterrupted strong growth.

Figure 6 shows that output in the employment activities industry moves closely with indicators that relate to the hiring intentions of corporations, such as the growth of job vacancies (for further information on job vacancies data, see Labour Market Statistics, February 2015 release). This could be because one of the ways that the industry creates output is by charging other corporations for posting job advertisements through them. As vacancies increase, some of the extra positions are likely to be advertised through agencies, generating more output within the industry.  As these hiring intentions change in line with growth in the economy, this industry is likely to be considered pro-cyclical.

Figure 6: Quarter-on-same-quarter a year ago growth in employment activities and number of vacancies, 2003 to 2014

United Kingdom

Figure 6: Quarter-on-same-quarter a year ago growth in employment activities and number of vacancies, 2003 to 2014
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Background notes

  1. What’s new

    Following the recent assessment by the UK Statistics Authority covering short-term economic output indicators, the Index of Services (IoS) has been re-designated as a National Statistic. A letter of confirmation was published on 26 March 2015 and is available on the Assessment reports web page on the ONS website (report number 278).

    Aggregate series for Private Non-Distribution Services (PNDS) are now available in the IoS time series dataset on the ONS website. PNDS is an aggregate of the services industries in sections H to N and R to U. The additional series are being published to meet user needs and improve accessibility and going forward the series will be published at 9:30am alongside every monthly IoS release.

  2. Continuous Improvement of GDP: sources, methods and communication

    The GDP Output Improvement Report published on 30 September 2014, provides a detailed update of the implementation of improvements for Blue Book 2014, progress on industry reviews and wider cross-cutting improvements, a comprehensive timetable for the industry review project, an update of industry quality ratings and progress on experimental statistics. It also features sections on deflation and annual coherence adjustments to improve the understanding and transparency of the methods involved in producing IoP, IoS, and GDP(O).

    Assessment reports by the UK Statistics Authority are available on the ONS website for the output approach to measuring GDP and the short-term indicators that feed into it. Furthermore, the priorities for National Accounts production and development over a five year period (2013/2014 to 2017/2018) are highlighted in the National Accounts and Related Statistics Work Plan and an independent review of the UK's National Accounts and Balance of Payments has been produced as part of ONS's programme of National Statistics Quality Reviews (NSQRs).

  3. What do you think?

    As a user of our statistics we would welcome your feedback on this publication. If you would like to get in touch please contact us via email: ios.enquiries@ons.gsi.gov.uk.

  4. A review of the experimental statistics status for 9 IoS industries

    The IoS has been designated as National Statistics by the UK Statistics Authority, although a number of components are experimental. In August 2012 the article Index of Services - Industry Reviews (249.1 Kb Pdf) was published, highlighting the industries that are classed as experimental and the work that is ongoing to remove the experimental label.

    Section 5 of the GDP Output Improvement Report outlines plans to review the removal of experimental statistics status for the following industries:

    • SIC07 industry 60 - Programming and broadcasting

    • SIC07 industry 62 - Computer programming

    • SIC07 industry 63 - Information service activities

    • SIC07 industry 68.3 - Real estate activities (fee or contract basis)

    • SIC07 industry 77 - Rental and leasing activities

    • SIC07 industry 81 - Services to buildings and landscape

    • SIC07 industry 86 - Human health

    • SIC07 industry 94 - Activities of membership organisations

    • SIC07 industry 97 - Activities of households as employers of domestic personnel

    Appendix 8 of the report outlines the data sources and methods in use for each industry at Blue Book 2014. The removal of the experimental statistics label and subsequent replacement as National Statistics is a process that follows from adherence to the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. This means that an industry may have a quality rating of C but would still be classified as National Statistics due to the extent to which it follows the principles and protocols that surround the Code of Practice. Users are invited to respond to the review through ios.quality@ons.gsi.gov.uk.

  5. Special Events

    ONS maintains a list of candidate special events in the Special Events Calendar. As explained in ONS’s Special Events policy, it is not possible to separate the effects of special events from other changes in the series.

  6. Understanding the data

    Short guide to the Index of Services

    The Index of Services shows the monthly movements in the gross value added (GVA) of the service industries (2007 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC 2007) sections G to T). These industries account for around 78% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2011. The index is estimated using the same data sources and national accounts methodology as the quarterly estimate of services industries’ gross value added within the output approach to measuring GDP (GDP (O)). These consist of the distribution, hotels and restaurant industries (SIC 2007 sections G and I); transport, storage and communication (sections H and J); business services and finance (sections K to N); and government and other services (sections O to T).

  7. International comparison

    International comparison with the IoS is difficult, as most comparable economies do not produce equivalent estimates. Eurostat turnover in services estimates are not comparable with the IoS, as they exclude the wholesale and retail trade; furthermore, most of the estimates are only available quarterly. The United States of America also produces services output estimates, but only on a quarterly basis, with a four-month lag time. Japan has a direct equivalent of the IoS, but the estimates are not seasonally adjusted. The closest equivalent estimates are from Canada, which produces a monthly output estimate of GDP with a breakdown by industry (including an aggregate for services). There are also comparable quarterly estimates from Sweden and Ireland.

  8. Short guide to National Accounts

    The national accounts provide an integrated description of all economic activity within the economic territory of the UK, including activity involving both domestic units (that is, individuals and institutions resident in the UK) and external units (those resident in other countries). In addition to being comprehensive, the accounts are fully integrated and internally consistent. More information can be found in UK national accounts: a short guide.

  9. How ONS statistics explain the economy

    The IoS is mentioned in a video summary which highlights 14 ways ONS statistics help you understand the economy. The video summary, along with an interactive version of the video, was released on the ONS website on 27 June 2014 alongside the Quarterly National Accounts for quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2014.

  10. Interpreting the data

    Some monthly data are volatile. When looking at growth rates, the headline IoS figures focus on the percentage change between the most recent month-on-a-year earlier and the most recent 3-months-on-a-year earlier.

    The monthly Index of Services statistical bulletin is usually published on the same days as the Gross Domestic Product Preliminary Estimate statistical bulletin, the Second Estimate of Gross Domestic Product statistical bulletin and the Quarterly National Accounts statistical bulletin.

    The data for the IoS in this statistical bulletin are generally consistent with the Quarterly National Accounts for quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2014 published on 31 March 2015. However, rounding can sometimes cause differences between the 3-monthly growth rates presented in this release compared with the quarterly growth rates presented in the Quarterly National Accounts.  Data for the retail industry are broadly comparable with the Retail Sales release published on 20 February 2015, but as the 2 series operate under different revisions policies, there can be timing differences in the updating of the 2 series. Also, adjustments to the data within the IoS release are sometimes made at the time of the Blue Book to improve the coherence of the 3 approaches to measuring GDP. Therefore, inconsistencies between the 2 series are not unusual but tend to be small. There are also conceptual and coverage differences between retail sales and retail output which can lead to apparent inconsistencies 

  11. Definitions and explanations

    Definitions found within the main statistical bulletin are listed here:

    Index number
    An index number is a number which indicates the change in magnitude relative to the magnitude at a specified point, the latter usually taken as 100. For example, the level of services for January 2015 is given in Table 1 as 108.7. This means that services output was 8.7% higher than the average in the reference period, which is currently 2011.

    Seasonal adjustment
    The index numbers in this statistical bulletin are all seasonally adjusted. This aids interpretation by removing annually recurring fluctuations, for example, due to holidays or other regular seasonal patterns. Unadjusted data are also available.
    Seasonal adjustment removes regular variation from a time series. Regular variation includes effects due to month lengths, different activity near particular events such as shopping activity before Christmas, and regular holidays such as the May bank holiday.
    Some features of the calendar are not regular each year, but are predictable if we have enough data, for example, the number of certain days of the week in a month may have an effect, or the impact of the timing of Easter. As Easter changes between March and April we can estimate its effect on time series and allocate it between March and April depending on where Easter falls. Estimates of the effect of the day of the week and Easter are used respectively to make trading day and Easter adjustments prior to seasonal adjustment.

    X-13-ARIMA-SEATS is the current seasonal adjustment software used for IoS.

    Value (current price)
    Economic transactions involve the production of goods and the sale of goods and services (commodities). The monetary value (or current price) of these transactions is a product of the quantity produced or sold and the unit price. In a particular period, the total (aggregate) value of all transactions taking place in the economy is simply the sum of the individual transaction values in that period. The current price is sometimes referred to as the ‘nominal’ price.

    Volume (constant price)
    When it comes to comparing the difference in aggregate values between 2 time periods, the observed movement is generally a combination of changes in quantity and changes in price. In a lot of cases, the interest of users of economic data lies in understanding the degree to which economic growth is being driven by changes in quantities (that is, physical volumes of production and consumption). It is standard practice to present many economic statistics as volume series (showing changes in the level of the series that have not been affected by changes in price) and such series are referred to as 'at constant prices' or ‘real’ prices.

    Deflation
    The process of removing price changes from a value series and converting to a volume series is known as deflation. All index numbers presented in this bulletin are volume measures and have had the effect of price changes removed.

    Chained volume measures
    The indices in this bulletin are presented as ‘chained volume’ measures, meaning that successive volume estimates have been linked (or chained) together. Annual chain-linking was introduced in 2003 and is considered preferable to producing standard volume series as chained volume measures more accurately reflect volume changes over time. More information on chain-linking can be found in the Tuke and Reed (2001) (92.8 Kb Pdf) article, and a paper on chain-linking weights in the output approach to measuring GDP can be found on the Methods and Sources page.

    Gross domestic product
    The total value of production activity in the economic territory. It is the balancing item on the production account for the whole economy. Domestic product can be measured gross or net of consumption of fixed capital (or depreciation). It is presented in the accounts at
    market (or purchasers’) prices. A further distinction is that it can be at current prices or chained volume measures.

  12. Methods

    Index of Services methodology can be found on the ONS website.

  13. Composition of the data

    The IoS uses a wide variety of different data, from many sources, which are produced on either an annual, quarterly or monthly basis.

    Some of the indicators are derived using current price turnover deflated by a suitable price index. This includes data from the Monthly Business Survey (MBS): an ONS short-term survey on different parts of the economy. It is one of the main data sources used in the compilation of the IoS.

    More information on Monthly Business Survey data can be found within the Economic and Labour Market Review release (2.65 Mb Pdf) .

    Other sources use direct volume measures that do not need to be deflated, such as Civil Aviation Authority data for air transport. Other proxies, such as employment numbers, are also used. This is the case with Public Sector Employment and Workforce Jobs data.

    Where monthly data are not available (for example, when data are delivered quarterly or annually), monthly estimates are derived by forecasting data. This is done using the X-13-ARIMA-SEATS forecasting method and interpolating a monthly path using a cubic spline.

    An X-13-ARIMA-SEATS forecast is also used where actual data at industry level are not available for the latest period (a lower proportion of actual data are available for the latest month). When the forecast is replaced by actual data, this may lead to revisions to the published data.

    The IoS adheres to the Government Statistical Service Disclosure Control Policy (337 Kb Word document) . More information can be found in the Quality and Methodology Information (QMI) (207.3 Kb Pdf) report.

  14. Response rates

    Approximately 42% of the IoS estimates are based on data collected via the ONS Monthly Business Survey (MBS). In addition, approximately 7% of the IoS estimates are collected via ONS's Retail Sales Inquiry (RSI). The remainder is based on data received from other ONS sources and external data sources. The MBS and RSI response rates for data included in this publication are presented for the current month and 3 months prior in Table 4. The response rates for the historical periods are updated to reflect the current level of response, incorporating data from late returns. There are 2 response rates included; the first is a percentage of the amount of turnover returned and the other is a percentage of the amount of questionnaire forms returned.

    Table 4: Survey Response Rates, January 2015

    United Kingdom

    Response rate (%)
    Period Oct 2014 Nov 2014 Dec 2014 Jan 2015
    Monthly Business Survey (Services)        
    Turnover 97.8 96.6 94.7 85.3
    Questionnaire 86.2 84.6 82.5 75.1
             
    Retail Sales Inquiry        
    Turnover 99.1 97.5 96.2 92.5
    Questionnaire 78.2 76.4 73.6 60.2
             

    Table source: Office for National Statistics

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  15. Basic quality information

    Some general information on the quality of the Index of Services (IoS) can be found in the ‘Understanding the Index of Services’ section in the main part of this statistical bulletin.

    Additionally a Quality and Methodology Information (QMI) (207.3 Kb Pdf) report for the IoS was published on 11 February 2015. The report pulls together qualitative information on the 5 Eurostat criteria of quality (relevance, accuracy, timeliness and punctuality, accessibility and clarity, and comparability and coherence) and provides a summary of the methods used to compile the IoS output, describing the strengths and limitations of the estimates produced.

    Further quality information, including details of the quality adjustments process for IoS, was published on 31 October 2014 and can be found on the Index of Services Methods page on the ONS website.

  16. National Accounts revisions policy

    Key documentation explaining the National Accounts revisions policy (41.6 Kb Pdf) is available.

  17. Revisions triangles

    SIC 2007 revisions triangles are contained in a zip folder. This folder can be found within the data section of this bulletin.

    Revisions to data provide 1 indication of the reliability of key indicators. A statistical test has been applied to the average revision to find out if it is statistically significantly different from 0. An average revision close to 0 is desirable as it suggests that revisions are not predictable in any one direction. The result of the test is that the average revision is not statistically significantly different from 0.

    Table 5 presents a summary of the differences published between January 2009 and January 2014 and the estimates published 12 months later.

    Table 5: Revisions between first publication and estimates 12 months later

    United Kingdom

    (Percentage change)
      Value in latest period Average over the last 60 months Average over the last 60 months without regard to sign (average absolute revision)
    Index of Services 3 month on 3 month growth rate 0.8 -0.07 0.19
    Index of Services 1 month on 1 month growth rate -0.2 -0.04 0.19

    Table source: Office for National Statistics

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  18. Publication policy

    Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available from the media relations office. Also available is a Pre Release Access List of those given pre-publication access to the contents of this release

  19. Accessing data

    The data presented in the tables of this statistical bulletin are also available to download from the data section of this publication. A complete run of data is available as a time series dataset on the ONS website.

    ONS provides an analysis of past revisions in the IoS and other statistical bulletins; more information can be found in Revisions information in ONS First Releases (244.6 Kb Pdf) .

  20. Following ONS

    You can follow ONS on Twitter and Facebook and view the latest podcasts on YouTube.

  21. Code of Practice for Official Statistics

    National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.

    The UK Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

    Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:
    • meet identified user needs;
    • are well explained and readily accessible;
    • are produced according to sound methods and;
    • are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest.
    Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed.

  22. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Statistical contacts

Name Phone Department Email
Robert Doody +44 (0)1633 455803 Office for National Statistics ios.enquiries@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .
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