Key data

Browse our most popular datasets, by data type.


UK surveys
Cross-national surveys
Longitudinal studies
International macrodata
Census data
Business microdata

The UK Data Service provides access to a large collection of business microdata, provided by the Office for National Statistics. These data are relatively identifiable, and can therefore be accessed through the Secure Lab route.

The data are collected through a wide range of surveys (and some administrative sources), and cover:

  • productivity
  • innovation
  • workforce skills
  • earnings
  • international trade
  • foreign direct investment
  • research and development
  • business demography
  • industrial relations

Almost all of the data are collected using the sampling frame of the Inter-Departmental Business Register. It is therefore possible to combine data for the same company from two or more surveys, increasing the range of research and hypotheses that can be tested.

Unlike business microdata that can be downloaded (such as from Companies House), these data are more detailed and, as they are collected under the Statistics of Trade Act 1947, can only be accessed in a secure setting to ensure confidentiality.

  • Annual Respondents Database

    The Annual Respondents Database (ARD) is a widely-used source of information about business organisations. Sourced from a number of surveys, the series begins in the early 1970s by providing productivity data for manufacturing firms in the UK. Other sectors including retail, services, catering, construction, property, motoring and wholesale were added from the late 1990s onwards.

    The data also include limited information, such as employment and industrial classification, at the 'plant' level (for example branches, manufacturing plants) belonging to the same company.

    The dataset contains over 1000 variables, and in particular, a firm-level measure of productivity (gross value added).

  • Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings

    The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), is a large panel survey of employees' hours of work and wages collected from organisations in Great Britain for just under 1% of workers (approximately 150,000 - 160,000 observations) per year.

    ASHE replaced the New Earnings Survey in 2002, to include data from the self-employed and more accurate weighting instruments. The survey data are considered more accurate than other labour market surveys because the wage data are provided by employers, rather than individual workers. Data on bonus payments and overtime are also included. 

    The data can also be combined with other business microdata collected by the Office for National Statistics. This has enabled studies of how business environments affect wage rates and hours of work, and vice versa.

  • Business Structure Database

    The Business Database (BSD) is an annual extract of the Inter-department Business Register (IDBR), a database of business organisations used throughout Government. Organisations that are registered for VAT or pay at least one member of staff through the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax system, will appear on this register.

    It is therefore one of the largest sources of data about business organisations in the UK. The BSD snapshot contains limited information (turnover, employment, industrial classification for example), but offers researchers an enormous sample of observations to work with. The inclusion of demographic variables (including company start-up date and wind-down) also provides insights into business cycles.

  • UK Innovation Survey

    The UK Innovation Survey collects data from organisations, designed to capture advances in innovative activity. This includes innovations in: production; new goods and services; markets in which businesses operate.

    The survey also collects information about expenditure on innovative activities.

Qualitative / mixed methods
Administrative data

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