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Survey reference period

The following guidance sets out how to report the survey reference period to ensure as much consistency as possible across the Government Statistical Service (GSS).


Most regular or continuous Government social surveys use financial year as the reference period though there are exceptions. There appears to be a significant need for annual figures on a common time basis.

While there may be specific needs for some surveys to have a different reference period from financial year, including disruption to key time series, it is proposed that surveys should consider moving to a financial year basis. Where this is not appropriate, they should at least where possible publish reference tables for financial years, on harmonised definitions, electronically or in other forms as appropriate.

The presentation of the financial year reference period should take the form “2017-18”. Where periods other than financial year are referred to, this should be made clear.

As there is significant user interest for data on both calendar and financial year basis, the possibility of making summary data available on both bases should be considered for continuous surveys, though there will also be cost and methodological considerations.



Survey Reference Period (PDF, 0.05MB)


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