The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is looking to expand its regular Energy and Climate Change Public Attitudes Tracker survey to quiz respondents on issues such as workers’ rights and corporate transparency – rather than just taking their views on energy issues.
Its current PAT was inherited from predecessor body the Department for Energy and Climate Change, which was abolished by prime minister Theresa May in her July 2016 machinery of government changes that were designed to put Whitehall into Brexit mode.
A consultation on the proposals suggests a significant overhaul of the survey to reflect BEIS’s broader remit of driving investment, promoting competitive markets and responsible business practices that would tie into the roles inherited from the former Department for Business, Industry and Skills and May’s “society that works for everyone” agenda.
BEIS plans to junk questions about respondents’ intention to switch energy supplier and whether they have a biomass boiler in their homes, for replacement with new questions about their attitudes towards workers’ rights and the national minimum wage; corporate transparency, ownership and diversity; and science.
It said that some of the questions in the current survey – which started life in 2012 and is conduced every March, with shorter followups roughly every three months – did not provide reliable or relevant information, and that broadening the topics covered would be more in line with BEIS’s remit.
However it said the actual questions that would be asked to determine attitudes on pay and the state of UK corporate culture were still under review.
“The tracker is a valued source of evidence to the department for energy policy, however the creation of BEIS means that the department’s priorities are now broader and include other policy areas where data on public attitudes would benefit policy formation,” it said.
“Expanding the content of the survey could improve the evidence base to assist the department in achieving these aims and monitor progress.
“As well as reviewing the survey content (topic areas and questions), BEIS will take this opportunity to consider the frequency of the survey, and the outputs produced to ensure that they provide good quality evidence, are insightful and engaging for users, and deliver value for money.”
The survey is currently conducted face-to-face with around 2,000 respondents, and the department conceded that revamping it with a wider range of topics would “increase the duration of the survey and the cost”, and could affect response rates.
The consultation, which also seeks evidence from users of the statistics from the survey, is open until March 18.