The Northern Ireland Living Costs and Food Survey

The Living Costs and Food Survey (LCF) is the main source of information on the cost of living in Northern Ireland, which is needed to calculate the rate of inflation. It is also a valuable source of information on food consumption and nutrition.

Details of the Survey

Some form of household expenditure survey has been conducted each year in the UK since 1957. The Living Costs and Food (LCF) Survey has been running since 2008 and collects information on spending patterns and the cost of living.

The survey is an important source of economic and social data: the information collected is used to update the contents of the consumer inflation (CPI) basket of goods and services, as well as providing information on food consumption and nutrition.


Received a letter?

If you have received a letter, then your address has been selected at random from a list of all addresses in Northern Ireland. One of our interviewers will be calling to ask you to take part and to explain the survey in more detail. All our interviewers carry an official identification card, which includes their photograph and the NISRA logo as it appears at the top of this webpage.

It is important to the success of the survey that you take part, as we need information from everyone selected to make sure the survey is completely representative of households in Northern Ireland. As the survey is so important, each person aged 16 and over who takes part will receive a £50 Post Office voucher which can be exchanged for cash at any Post Office. Each child aged between 7 and 15 who takes part will receive a £10 Post Office voucher.

Everything you tell us is treated in confidence. The results will not be used in any way in which they can be associated with you or your address.

The letter sent to respondents and alternative language versions are available to view here:


Each year, a systematic random sample of 1000 households is selected from the NISRA Address Register (NAR) for the Living Costs and Food Survey.

The NAR is developed within NISRA and is primarily based on the Land and Property Services (LPS) Pointer (Pointer | nidirect) database.

Interviews are spread evenly throughout the year. Data is collected using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI).


Each household member aged 16 and over is invited to take part in the survey. An interview is conducted to collect information about household income and expenditure, including topics such as rent, mortgages and utility bills.

Each household member aged 16 and over is also asked to keep a record of their daily spending for two weeks. Children aged 7 to 15 are asked to keep a simplified version of the spending record.

Results / Publications

The primary publication from the LCF survey is the Family Spending report, produced annually by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The most recent version is available here: Expenditure: Spending patterns of UK households.

Microdata / Datasets

Datasets can be downloaded from  UK Data Service Living Costs and Food Survey 

Further Information / Helpful Links

Nutritional analysis from the food expenditure data in the LCF survey can be found at the following link:


Name: Claire Cromie

Telephone: 02890 255104


Central Survey Unit

About the Central Survey Unit