The Annual Business Survey (ABS) is a stratified random sample, using SIC(2007), employment and country as stratifying variables. As in all samples the estimates from the survey are subject to various sources of error.
Standard Errors are produced as a measure of uncertainty. The standard error is one of the key measures of survey quality; it indicates the extent to which the estimates would be expected to vary over repeated random sampling.
ABS uses stratified sampling, and both separate and combined ratio estimation to estimate totals. A standard approach is then used to estimate the variance, from which standard errors can be calculated.
The size of the standard error is a function of the cell sampling fractions, population and sample sizes, and of how much variation there is in the values returned for different businesses in the same cell. A well-designed stratified sample will seek to minimise the variation within a cell. For the ABS, this means that the strata which define the cells are industry and employment size, where businesses in the same industry and similar employment are expected to have similar turnovers, employment costs etc.
From July 2014, Standard Errors and Coefficients of Variation for regional (includes Scotland) ABS data at 2-digit SIC level have been published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Please see link to latest Table below.
From August 2015, in order to provide Standard Errors at Local Authority area level, the Scottish Government purchased this ad-hoc analysis from ONS. Please see link to Tables below.
Local Authority areas
Note that quality measures have not been provided for the employment or employee variables. The employment and employee estimates are largely based on Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) data, and sampling errors for BRES estimates are provided at a regional and local level, by ONS under different years at this link