Fieldwork operations for the Family Resources Survey (FRS) during 2020/21 were rapidly changed in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the introduction of national lockdown restrictions. The established face-to-face interviewing approach employed on the FRS was suspended and replaced with telephone interviewing for the whole 2020/21 survey year. This change impacted on both the size and composition of the achieved sample.
In a normal year the FRS achieves a sample of approximately 2,000 NI households, but in 2020/21 this decreased to approximately 700. This has led to additional uncertainty around estimates from the survey, particularly for smaller groups.
The NI Poverty Bulletin 2020/21 was published on 14 April 2022, but due to the heavily reduced sample size, only headline figures relating to the whole population in NI were presented.
The NI Households Below Average Income (HBAI) report is normally published in the summer and provides a more detailed breakdown of the headline poverty figures and income distribution. As expected, the reduction in the overall sample size has impacted heavily on this sub population analysis, with estimates based on reduced numbers of sample cases. Given the level of uncertainty around the estimates for 2020/21, particularly at a sub population level, Departmental statisticians have made the decision not to publish an NI HBAI report for 2020/21. The proposed date of next publication will be Summer 2023.