The informal economy: developing a methodology for data collectionContact: Sharon Collard
Funded by: HM Revenue & Customs
Completion date: 2007
One element of HMRC's Public Service Agreement for 2005-08 was to improve the extent to which individuals and businesses paid the amount of tax due and received the credits and payments to which they were entitled. As part of this, it was a priority for HMRC to produce an accurate estimate of tax loss through the operation of the informal economy.
The overall aim of this project, therefore, was to generate a suitable methodology for a survey to examine the size, incidence and nature of the informal economy in the UK. Within this, the research had the following specific objectives:
- To devise a robust working definition of the informal economy that can be applied through survey research.
- To review options and recommend:
- A suitable sampling frame for the research.
- A suitable sample design for the research.
- A suitable method of data collection for the research.
- A suitable questionnaire design for the research.
- To provide detailed proposals for maximising the response rate for this research and minimising possible bias in respondents' answers (including overcoming the sensitivity of the issue).
- To examine the ethical/professional issues surrounding this survey.
- To recommend an overall approach based on the issues above.
The research team included consultants from the Rockwool Foundation Research Unit and the Swedish Tax Agency. The research began in March 2006 and was completed in Spring 2007.