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For more information on this release:
E-mail: busreg@cso.ie Barry Sobey (+353) 21 453 5355 Liam O'Flaherty (+353) 21 453 5245
For general information on CSO statistics:
information@cso.ie (+353) 21 453 5000 Visit StatCentral.ie, the portal to Ireland's official statistics On-line ISSN 2009-6720
CSO statistical release, 21 September 2017, 11am

Response Burden Barometer

2016

  2008200920102201120122013201420152016
Administrative Burden, actual compliance (Response Burden Barometer)1147.0136.0144.498.090.7100.091.992.490.3
 
1 Base Year updated to year 2013 from year 2005
2 2010 figures reflect the decennial Census of Agriculture

Burden on businesses continues to fall

Figure 1 : Response Burden Index, 2013=100
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The Response Burden Barometer (RBB) for 2016 reduced by 38.6% when measured against the peak year of 2008.

The RBB is a measure of the total administrative burden placed on Irish enterprises and agricultural holdings by Central Statistics Office (CSO) surveys when calculated on an actual compliance basis1.


There was a fall of 2.3% in burden between 2015 and 2016. This can be largely attributed to a reduced number of forms issued in the Trade Intrastat Imports survey. Other factors include natural fluctuation with enterprises entering and leaving the survey population over the course of the year, and variation in response expected. As some surveys such as the Farm Structure Survey (every two to three years) and the Census of Agriculture (every ten years), don't take place every year, care needs to be taken when comparing the RBB from one year to that of the previous year. Improved data and development of methodologies also contribute to variation within the RBB. The cost to business of this burden was €4.15 million in 2016. See Tables 1 & 2.


The latest estimate is that there are 461,300 active business enterprises (including the latest Farm Population figure) in Ireland. In the course of 2016, the CSO issued 365,400 forms, or an average of 0.79 survey forms per enterprise. There were 247,600 forms returned as partially or wholly completed, representing an average of 0.54 forms per enterprise. See Table 2.


If burden is measured on the basis of partially or fully completed survey forms actually returned to the CSO (i.e. if burden is based on actual compliance), then the total number of hours spent by business in 2016 was 218,100, or 28.4 minutes per business. The administrative cost, measured on 2013 prices2, of actual compliance was €6.9 million, or €14.90 per enterprise. The administrative burden (i.e. administrative costs less business-as-usual costs) of actual compliance in 2016 was €4.15 million, or €8.99 per enterprise.2 See Measurement Methodology & Table 2.   

If all survey forms issued by the CSO were partially or wholly completed and returned (i.e. if there had been full compliance) then the total number of hours spent on this task by enterprises in Ireland in 2016 would have been 261,400, or an average of 34 minutes per enterprise. The administrative cost of full compliance would have been €8.7 million, or €18.92 per enterprise. The administrative burden of full compliance would have been €5.3 million, or €11.41 per enterprise. See Measurement Methodology & Table 2.


The most burdensome survey in 2016 was the Trade Intrastat Imports survey, which issued 40,100 forms, of which 39,900 were returned partially or wholly completed. The administrative costs of completing all Trade Intrastat Imports forms in 2016 were €2.2 million. Of the purely CSO surveys, the full compliance administrative costs of the June Agriculture Survey (which in 2016 included the Farm Structure Survey) were €770,000 in 2016, while the actual compliance administrative costs were €509,300.


1Actual compliance basis : calculated on a time and cost basis of fully or partially completed returns to the CSO. This is the preferred method of the European Statistical System for calculating the Response Burden Barometer level.

2The hourly administrative cost figure used in the calculations for non-Trade surveys was €44.00 (based on 2013 figures). For Trade surveys, the administrative cost figure was based on their 2013 Response Burden Survey. The administrative burden of CSO Surveys was 60.32% of the administrative costs figure. Please see Methodology for further details.

Table 1 Total Administrative Burden, actual compliance (Response Burden Barometer) Index, 2013 = 100
All Surveys200820092010¹201120122013201420152016
Forms Issued122.5119.214193.386.810086.191.9103.8
Forms Returned124118.7146.8948710087.388.8101.6
Time, full compliance (forms issued) - hours150.5137.1140.699.191.110096.9101.696.4
Time, actual compliance (forms returned) - hours139.9130.6136.898.79210099.4101.4102.3
Administrative Burden, full compliance158.1142.5147.39889.410090.191.488
Administrative Burden, actual compliance (Response Burden Barometer)147136144.49890.710091.992.590.3
1 2010 figures reflect the decennial Census of Agriculture
Table 2 Forms, Time taken to complete forms, Administrative Burden, All Surveys
  2008 2013201420152016
Total number of active business enterprises (incl. agricultural holdings) 431,400 451,700450,700450,700461,300
 
Number of forms Issued
All Surveys 431,100 351,900302,900323,400365,400
Average number of survey forms per business enterprise per year  1.00 0.780.670.720.79
 
Number of forms Returned
All Surveys 302,000 243,600212,600216,400247,600
Average number of survey forms per business enterprise per year  0.70 0.540.470.480.54
 
Time, full compliance (forms issued), hours
All Surveys 408,000 271,100262,800275,500261,400
Average number of minutes per business enterprise per year  56.7 36.035.036.734.0
 
Time, actual compliance (forms returned), hours
All Surveys 298,400 213,300211,900216,300218,100
Average number of minutes per business enterprise per year  41.5 28.328.228.828.4
 
Administrative Costs, full compliance, 2013 prices
All Surveys (€) 15,686,500 9,919,2008,938,5009,062,9008,726,900
Average administrative cost (€) per business enterprise per year  36.36 21.9619.8320.1118.92
 
Administrative Burden, full compliance, 2013 prices
All Surveys (€) 9,462,100 5,983,3005,391,7005,466,7005,264,100
Average administrative burden (€) per business enterprise per year 21.93 13.2511.9612.1311.41
 
Administrative Costs, actual compliance, 2013 prices
All Surveys (€) 11,185,300 7,607,3006,992,7007,040,6006,873,200
Average administrative cost (€) per business enterprise per year 25.93 16.8415.5215.6214.90
 
Administrative Burden, actual compliance, 2013 prices
All Surveys (Response Burden Barometer) (€) 6,747,000 4,588,8004,218,0004,246,9004,145,900
Average administrative burden (€) per business enterprise per year  15.64 10.169.369.428.99

Background Notes

Minimising survey response burden

Notwithstanding the ever-growing international demand for statistics (from organisations such as the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the United Nations, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, etc.), minimising the administrative burden placed on CSO business respondents is, and has been for many years, a corporate priority of the CSO. (See the CSO’s Statement of Strategy 2012-2014) The CSO has taken, and continues to take, a number of actions towards this end. Amongst these actions are:- 

  • Increased use of administrative data (especially from the Revenue Commissioners), reducing the need to collect information from enterprises;
  • Reduction of sample sizes where possible;
  • Reduction of the level of detail collected on questionnaires across a number of surveys;
  • Introduction of short annual forms for small enterprises, with the more detailed forms being sent to the larger enterprises only;
  • Re-design of questionnaires to align as far as possible with Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet accounts entries;
  • Increased use of electronic rather than paper forms;
  • Working with software companies to incorporate functionality into payroll software programs which automatically extracts and completes almost all of the requirements of the Earnings, Hours and Employment Costs Survey and a large portion of the requirements of the National Employment Survey.

In the case of Ireland it should be noted that most, but not all, government statistical inquiries are conducted by the CSO, and that almost all CSO surveys are driven by EU legislation with limited scope for national interpretation during implementation. The above actions have been possible within the structures of the governing EU legislation.

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