GSS Logo

High quality statistics, analysis and advice to help Britain make better decisions.

Introduction to Harmonisation

Harmonisation Handbook

The Harmonisation Handbook has been designed primarily to provide National Statistics Harmonisation Group (NSHG) members with guidance for their roles and responsibilities. It also includes a detailed explanation of the GSS approved Harmonisation Process to be used when producing Harmonised Principles. It will also provide general readers with an overview of the harmonisation work currently being conducted by the GSS and the NSHG.

Harmonisation Handbook 

National Statistics Harmonisation GroupGroup

The National Statistics Harmonisation Group (NSHG) is a sub-committee of the Government Statistical Service Statistical Policy and Standards Committee. It is responsible for the cross-government programme of harmonisation, designed to make UK statistics comparable to each other, where possible.

GSS Harmonised Principles

The GSS Harmonised Principles are approved documents containing sets of questions, concepts, definitions and outputs and provide a harmonised means of collecting information about a given topic.

They have been developed by topic groups, after wide consultation with producers and users.  Agreement and formal approval is provided by the GSS National Statistics Harmonisation Group and the GSS National Statistics Harmonisation Steering Group respectively.

GSS Harmonised Principles currently cover survey related topics, including (but not limited to); Demographic Information (age/sex/etc.), Ethnicity, General Health, Benefits and Tax Credits, Turnover and Hours Worked.

PDF documents concerning GSS Harmonised Principles are available to download from the drop down menu below.

Harmonisation of business statistics and administrative data

The Harmonisation Team is working on two further projects to develop new Harmonised Principles for

  1. Business Statistics and
  2. Administrative Data Sources.

The Team have identified several business and administrative data initiatives occurring across the Government Statistical Service (GSS) that harmonisation can facilitate and is working with colleagues to develop Harmonised Principles as part of the delivery of these programmes.

Business Harmonisation Task and Finish Group (BHTFG), which reports to the NSH SG, has been formed to investigate and develop harmonised principles for business statistics.

More information on the latest developments can be found in the quarterly Harmonisation Newsletters below.

If you have any further questions or suggestions, please contact the Harmonisation team

UK Data ServiceUK Data Service Variable and Question Bank (VQB)

Search and browse variables and questions from survey data sets. The UK Data Service Variable and Question Bank contains over 450,000 variables, with over 250,000 containing question text/responses. More than 13,000 of the variables are flagged as belonging to the Government Statistical Service (GSS) primary and secondary sets of harmonised concepts and questions.

Access the UK Data Service variable and question bank

View a narrated demonstration of the UK Data Service Variable and Question Bank.

NewsletterHarmonisation Newsletters

For each meeting of the Government Statistical Service (GSS) National Statistics Harmonisation Group (NSHG), an information newsletter is produced. The information in the newsletter is combined with items and updates worthy of mention between NSHG meetings. The newsletter is circulated across the GSS, via the Harmonisation pages on the GSS website. If you have any comments or queries, or would like to be added to the circulation list, please contact us.

bulletin_A-512Harmonisation Bulletins

Harmonised Bulletins are used to share information with interested parties with regard to Harmonisation topics. This shared information can include (but is not limited to) publications of new Harmonised Principles, revisions to existing Harmonised Principles and information regarding harmonisation in general. These bulletins are published as and when required.

In most cases and where applicable, the harmonisation process has been followed resulting in ratification by the Government Statistical Service Statistical Policy and Standards Committee (GSS SPSC) and the Heads of Professions Group.

  • Harmonisation Bulletin 7 – (Revised General Health & Carers and new Long-lasting Health Conditions & Illnesses Harmonised Principles – August 2011)
  • Harmonisation Bulletin 8 – (Revised Ethnicity, Identity, Religion & Economic Activity Harmonised Principle – August 2011)

  • Harmonisation Bulletin 6 – (Revised Consumer Durables and household Definition Harmonised Principles – August 2011)


Harmonisation Blogs

For Harmonisation Blogs see here