Got questions about the study? Check out the FAQ’s below. If you can’t find what you are looking for, contact us. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.
We are asking study members to complete short online questionnaires about their experiences during the coronavirus outbreak.
It provides study members with an important opportunity to contribute to our national understanding of how the coronavirus is affecting the economy, society, and health.
We will contact you by email to invite you to complete a short online questionnaire. It should only take around 20 to 30 minutes.
The questionnaire covers the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on your work, your health, your family and your social life.
We will ask you to do this at regular intervals throughout the outbreak to see how things change for you. The data will be more valuable the more often you take part.
Answering these questionnaires is voluntary and you can skip over any questions that you cannot or would prefer not to answer.
The coronavirus outbreak has led to big and sudden changes in how we live our day-to-day lives in the UK. It is a serious and unprecedented event. It will have a lasting impact on many people’s lives.
The answers you give will help researchers understand the impact of the outbreak on people’s lives, and will provide vital evidence on how the lives of people affected can be improved.
The information you have given in previous surveys will greatly improve our understanding of the impact of the outbreak. And as we will be following your lives into the future we can also look at longer-term consequences. For these reasons, your contribution is particularly valuable.
Like all of our surveys, it is completely up to you whether or not you choose to take part in these coronavirus online surveys.
We will be carrying out the survey at regular intervals during the outbreak. You can choose to take part in some, all or none of these surveys. Taking part in one survey doesn’t mean you have to take part in later ones.
We understand that some people may not want to or be able to take part in surveys at this time.
This does not affect your participation in the main surveys for the study.
We will send you an email will contain a web link and a unique ID.
You need to click on the link in your email and enter your unique ID (a 7 letter code) and your date of birth. You will then be able to proceed.
If you have any problems accessing the questions, you can call us for free on 0800 0355 761 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You need to click on the link in your email and enter your unique ID (a 7 letter code from your email) and your date of birth.
You can complete the question using a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. You can decide which one you would prefer to use.
We recommend you complete it all in one go. It should take around 20 to 30 minutes to finish. However, if that’s not possible, you can leave it and come back, using the same login details.
As always, answering these questions is voluntary and you can skip over any questions that you cannot or would prefer not to answer.
Once you’ve come to the end of the questions, you can submit your answers, and you won’t be able to edit them again.
Yes, of course. If you haven’t received an email inviting you to take part, this is most likely because we don’t have an email address for you. If you would like to take part, please use the contact form to provide us with your email address and we will include you in future coronavirus surveys.
If you want to opt out of receiving the coronavirus surveys, you can do this by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email.
This won’t affect your participation in the main surveys.
We hope that you and your loved ones are keeping well and healthy during the coronavirus outbreak.
Please follow the latest government advice: www.gov.uk/coronavirus
If you think you may have symptoms of coronavirus, please follow the advice and guidance from the NHS: www.111.nhs.uk (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or www.nhs24.scot (Scotland). You can also call NHS by phoning 111 or phone your GP.
Many people are experiencing difficulties or need some extra support due to the wider impact of the outbreak and restrictions imposed by the government, for example on finances, health and housing. Some of the organisations able to provide support and free confidential advice are listed below.
Citizens Advice www.citizensadvice.org.uk – general issues including benefits, housing, debt and consumer issues.
Drinkline is the national alcohol helpline. Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm).
Talk to FRANK www.talktofrank.com – advice on drugs and alcohol. You can text them on 82111, phone FRANK for free on 0300 123 6600 or get advice via webchat.
Refuge www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk – national domestic abuse helpline. Call 0808 2000 247 at any time.
If you have any problems, queries or concerns, you can call us for free on 0800 0355 761 or email us at email@example.com.
The information you give us will be held securely and treated in strict confidence in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the General Data Protection Regulation. Any information that may identify you, such as your name, your contact details and any other details that may identify you, will be kept separate from your answers to the questionnaire. We hold any information which could identify you securely and never make this available to researchers.
The answers you give in the questionnaire will be made available securely to researchers, along with other information held by the study about you, to look at the impact of coronavirus on people’s lives.
See the ‘Privacy and data protection’ FAQs for more details about how we use your personal information.
All information collected by and added to BCS70 is treated with the strictest confidence in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
See the ‘Privacy and data protection’ FAQs for more details about how we keep your data secure.
Many people are recording symptoms of COVID-19 using specially designed symptom tracker apps. These are helping to slow the outbreak, by recording which symptoms are most common, and identifying high risk areas in the UK. We have teamed up with the organisations running the COVID-19 symptom tracker, designed by Kings College London, to allow the results from the symptoms tracker app to be combined with the information held by BCS70.
You can download the app to your mobile devices from the COVID symptom tracker website at www.covid.joinzoe.com and clicking on the App Store or Google Play icons.
You can also find the app by searching for ‘COVID Symptom Tracker’ in the App Store or Google Play. The app developer is Zoe Global Limited and it is designed by King’s College London.
No, you are encouraged to use the app even if you are well.
The data will help scientists to identify who is most at risk, by better understanding how symptoms are linked to underlying health conditions, and will show how fast the virus is spreading in your area.
The linked data will greatly enrich the information available to researchers for understanding the lifetime risk factors for COVID-19 and its symptoms. In the future it will enable the long-term health and other outcomes of those experiencing COVID-19 and its symptoms to be understood.
To register on the app you will need to provide your email address, year of birth, and the first part of your postcode. Optionally you can also provide your name, sex, and your full postcode, which you are encouraged to do to help us to link your survey data to your symptom tracker information. The app also asks you to optionally provide your telephone number.
You will be asked for some information about your current health and to record your symptoms every day. If you have already been recording your symptoms using this app, the symptoms you have already recorded can also be linked.
No, it is completely up to you whether you choose to use the COVID symptom tracker and you can still take part in the survey without installing the app.
The information from the COVID tracker app is held in anonymised form by the SAIL Databank, at the University of Swansea. The personally identifying information from the COVID tracker app is held separately by SAIL’s Trusted Third Party, the NHS Wales Information Centre (NWIS).
In order to link your survey data, we will transfer your first name, surname, year of birth, sex, postcode, email address, and a unique study ID to NWIS using their secure file upload website.
NWIS will de-identify and encrypt the personal data we send them and assign an Anonymous Linking Field (ALF). NWIS will send the ALF to SAIL, who will then use the ALF together with the unique study id to link your information from the COVID symptoms tracker app into your study information.
The de-identified linked data will be transferred back to the Centre for Longitudinal Studies team at UCL running the BCS70 study, who will also make the data available via appropriate conditions of access to researchers via secure mechanisms such as the UK Data Service and/or the SAIL databank.
When you complete the survey you can specify that you do not want us to link your COVID symptom tracker data to your survey data.
Yes, you can opt out at any time – you can call us for free on 0800 0355 761 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The collection of blood samples will help us to carry out important health research. For example, researchers could use information from the survey and blood sample to understand things like how diet may influence cholesterol, or how different lifestyles can affect the chances of heart disease.
If you gave your permission, we will have stored DNA from your blood to use in future research. Previous research shows that an increasing number of illnesses have a genetic element, including cancer, diabetes, asthma and certain heart conditions.
Looking at the genes from a large number of people, combined with all of the other information we have collected about your health and your lifestyle, will help researchers to identify which genes are linked to certain conditions. This will help with understanding who is most at risk, which may in turn lead to improved diagnosis, treatment and disease prevention.
BCS70 will not use your DNA for cloning humans. The use of human tissue and DNA is strictly controlled. The organisations that fund this research, the UCL Institute of Education, and the Access Committee, do not allow human cloning.
You can withdraw your consent for the use of your samples at any time, without giving any reasons, by writing to us at FREEPOST RTCX-HBGC-CJSK, 1970 British Cohort Study, UCL Institute of Education 20 Bedford Way London, WC1H 0AL. We will then inform the laboratory and the stocks of your samples will be destroyed.
Life for your generation is different to the lives of your parents and grandparents, and to the lives of younger generations. So we are following your lives to understand and learn from your special generation.
The 1970s, when you were born, was a decade of economic instability and growing inequality. While unemployment was low in the early 1970s, the decade saw growing industrial and social unrest. Strike action culminated in the ‘winter of discontent’ in 1978-79, and the Troubles began to unfold in Northern Ireland.
More than a third of you lived in council housing at the age of 5. In 1979, Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s first female Prime Minister. A global economic recession overshadowed much of the 1980s. Several public industries were privatised, and much of the state’s social housing stock was sold off under the ‘right to buy’. Today, home ownership remains lower among your generation than for those born in 1946 and 1958.
There were significant reforms to education when you were young. The vast majority of you attended comprehensive schools, following the slow decline in grammar schools and secondary moderns throughout the 1970s. By age 42, a quarter of you had a university degree. While this may seem low by contemporary standards, it is significantly higher than amongst those born in 1946 and 1958. Less than one in five of those born in 1958 and fewer than one in ten born in 1946 obtained a degree. The greatest advances were made by women – 25 per cent of women born in 1970 have university degrees, compared to just 6 per cent of women born in 1946.
But while educational opportunities improved for your generation, general health has worsened. Convenience foods became more common in the 1980s, as did car ownership. People became less and less physically active. By the age of 16, those born in 1970 were significantly more overweight than generations before them. You also drank more during your teenage years, but were less likely to smoke.
These are just of the few of the differences between your generation and the lives of older and younger generations. We want to know how your experiences have impacted on your life so far and how they will affect the rest of your life.
By taking part in BCS70, you are acting as the voice of your generation. You are one of around 17,000 people who have taken part over the years. Each and every one of you brings something unique to the study, and together, you represent the diversity of the BCS70 generation. That’s why it’s so important that people from all different sorts of backgrounds continue to take part in the study. Without you, we don’t hear the whole story and the picture is not complete.
To learn more about why the study was started, visit the ‘History of the study’ page.
In the late 1960s, there was a lot of concern about the number of babies born with abnormalities, or dying very early in life. Doctors and others wished to examine the factors associated with good health in mothers and babies. It was decided that the best way to do this would be to study all the babies born in Britain in one week – and that just happened to be the week in 1970 when you were born! The midwives who delivered the 17,000 of you born in England, Wales and Scotland in that week asked your mothers if they would be willing to take part in the study which was then known as the British Births Survey.
Five years later it was decided that it would be worthwhile to try and find as many of your families again, to see what had happened to you – how healthy you were, how you were getting on at school and so on. Since then, as you know, the study has gone on to follow you throughout the rest of your childhood and on in to adulthood.
*Those born in Northern Ireland were not followed up in subsequent surveys.
By taking part in BCS70, you’re helping to shape society and to make life better for your generation and the next. Politicians, teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers and others use findings from the study to improve services and policies to help people like you. You can find out more about how the study has made a difference on the ‘What have we learned’ pages.
BCS70 is trying to capture the story of your life, and only you can tell it. We have been following you since you were born and we really want to continue following the rest of your lives as well.
You’re unique and irreplaceable. If you choose not to take part, we cannot replace you with anyone else. Without you, we don’t have the whole story.
It’s important that we understand what life is like for people from all different parts of the country, different family backgrounds and different ethnicities. That’s why we need as many of you as possible to keep taking part – each and every one of you brings something new to the picture and together, you represent the diversity of the BCS70 generation.
More than 17,000 people have taken part in BCS70 since it started.
As you were growing up, your parents or guardians will also have taken part in the study as well. During your time at school information was also collected from your teachers. In 2004, when you were 34, we asked your children (if you had any at this time) to complete a questionnaire and a number of assessments. You can learn more about who we’ve spoken to on the ‘Survey’ pages.
In 2012, when you were 42, we asked your partners (and you) to give us permission to add information from health records held by the NHS and economic records held by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to the information you have given us in our surveys over the years. Find out more about adding information to your survey answers.
At each survey, we’ll ask you about things that are relevant to your lives. When you were younger, we asked you about school, friends, family life and your hopes for the future. Now you are older, we’ll ask you about things like work, health, whether you get married or have children, and about your attitudes and beliefs. We’ll write to you before each survey to tell you all about what is involved.
If you move or if your contact details change, please let us know as soon as you can. This means we can make sure you get information about BCS70 and that we can contact you to invite you to take part in each survey.
We’re interested in following your life story. We want to see how your life changes over time, and what your life is like at certain ages. In the past there were some long gaps between surveys, but the funding of BCS70 is now more secure and since you were 26 we have carried out surveys every four years. The Age 50 Survey is currently underway and will conclude in 2021. After that, we plan to carry out surveys roughly every five years.
The more information that the study gathers about your life over time, the more valuable it becomes. This is why we so appreciate your unique and continued contribution.
It is up to you to decide whether or not to take part in each survey. We will send you information before each survey to let you know what it will involve. If you move home between surveys, it would be very helpful if you could contact us with your new address.
We’re interested in following your life story. We want to see how your life changes over time, and what your life is like at certain ages. We choose key points in your life to visit you, which are interesting and important for particular reasons.
BCS70 is like a photo album not only of your life, but of all the other study members too. That’s what makes it so interesting, and this is why you are so important, as you cannot be replaced.
The more information that the study gathers about your life over time, the more valuable it becomes. This is why we so value your unique and continued contribution.
We hope that the study will continue throughout your life. Other similar studies, which started in 1946 and 1958, are still continuing today. After the current survey, the Age 50 Survey, which is due to conclude in 2021, future surveys are likely to take place every five years.
We really hope that you continue to take part. However, the study is voluntary so if you no longer want to take part in the next survey or in any future surveys, please contact us to let us know.
If you are not sure whether you’d like to continue to take part or if you have any questions about taking part, please do not hesitate to contact us. We really value the contribution you make to the study and are always happy to talk to you and answer any questions you may have.
Without you BCS70 is not possible. If you decide not to take part, we can’t replace you with anyone else. Your unique contribution is incredibly valuable.
To find out more about how your involvement helps make a difference to society visit the ‘What we’ve learned’ pages.
Yes! We’d like everyone to take part each time we visit. But it’s up to you to decide whether or not to take part each time. If you miss a survey, you can still remain in the study and do the next survey.
Even if you haven’t taken part for a while, we would love you to take part again. There’s a lot we can learn from how your lives have changed since you last took part even if we don’t have all the details of your life in between.
Each survey is important because we focus on different aspects of your lives each time we get in touch. The more information that the study gathers about your life over time, the more valuable it becomes. This is why we so value your unique and continued contribution.
If you are not sure about whether to take part or if you have any questions about taking part, please do not hesitate to contact us. We really value your contribution and are always happy to talk to you and answer any questions you have.
If you move or if your contact details change, please let us know as soon as you can. This means we can make sure you get information about the study and that we can contact you to invite you to take part in each survey.
During each survey, we will ask you for information about lots of different aspects of your life. We’ll write to you before each survey to tell you all about what is involved.
It’s fine to tell family and friends that you are part of the study. We do advise you not to make this detail public though, for example on social media, as this could risk compromising your anonymity.
We send birthday cards to study members every year and with this we will updates about BCS70 to make sure you know what is coming up, what we’ve learned, and how the study has made a difference. We will send additional information from time to time. You can download some of the materials we’ve sent you in the past from the ‘Resources’ page.
Before each survey, we’ll write to you to tell you everything you need to know about what is involved. You might want to know when the survey is taking place, or how long it will take. We’ll always try to answer any questions you have. After each survey, we’ll also write to thank you for taking part.
Between surveys, we will send you results from the study telling you what we have found out. It can take a while to put together all of the information you give us, so it is usually a few years after each survey before we can send you the results.
We also keep the study website up to date with news and findings from the study.
We will write to you regularly with news from the study, telling you what we’ve found out about your generation. It can take a while to put together all of the information you give us, so it is usually a few years after each survey before we can send you the findings.
The information from the study is being used all the time by researchers around the world, so new findings are always emerging. To find out more about the study so far, visit the ‘What have we learned?’ page.
You’re such a valuable part of the study and we really value your input. We want to make sure that we have the right contact details so that we can keep you up to date with the study and contact you to invite you to take part in each survey.
Updating your contact details is simple to do. All you have do is either call us via the Freephone telephone number (0800 0355 761), or email us at email@example.com. Your call and/or email will be treated in the strictest confidence. You can also update your details by completing this online form. From time to time, we may also send you a change of details form or card to help you to do this.
You simply fill out the form that we sent you with any new information such as address changes, new phone and email addresses, or changes to a contact person’s details, and return it to us in the prepaid envelope. Where there are no changes to your details we would like you to send us back the form anyway to indicate that we have the correct information on your record. If you prefer you can update us with your new details by Freephone (0800 0355 761), or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and dispose of the form.
If you cannot find your form, please confirm your contact details by Freephone (0800 0355 761) or by email (email@example.com). Your call and/or email will be treated in the strictest confidence.
We need to keep in touch with as many of you as possible to make sure BCS70 continues to represent the diversity of your generation. If we find out that you’ve moved, we will try to find your new address.
We first try to contact you through the direct links you have given us, such as phone numbers, email addresses and your postal address.
If that doesn’t work, then we will try to contact any family members or friends whose details you have given us. If we still haven’t found you, we will check the electoral register and the telephone book, both of which are public records and available electronically. We may also try to find you using internet searches, by looking on social media sites and by using information held by government department and agencies.
All of this tracing is usually done before the next survey starts so that we can provide interviewers with your current email address, telephone number or home address. However, if we have not been able to locate you, or if the interviewer finds out you have moved, then they will also try to find out where you’ve moved to. As well as trying to make contact by phone and in person, the interviewer may also call at your old address to speak to the new residents and call on neighbours. When we are looking for you, we won’t reveal to other people, apart from your family and friends, that you are part of BCS70.
From time to time we try to trace study members using information held by government departments and agencies. So far, BCS70 has tried to trace study members using records held by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the NHS (via the NHS Central Register). We may use other government databases in the future.
The NHS Central Register is a database of GP registrations and is held by the Health and Social Care Information Centre. We would also find out if you died or moved out of the country from this register.
Whenever we do this, we securely transfer the personal details (name, sex, date of birth and last known address) of study members to the government department or agency. They use these details to identify our study members and then send us their up-to-date addresses. They do not retain the personal details sent to them.
This kind of personal information is not given out routinely by government departments and agencies. Special permissions are needed, and this is only done after a careful review of why this information is needed, ethical issues and data security procedures. For the information coming from the NHS, special approval under Section 251 of the NHS Act 2006 from the NHS Confidentiality Advisory Group and NHS Digital Data Access Advisory Group is needed.
Sometimes we try to find study members using the internet and social media. This may involve carrying out internet searches, for example using Google, and searching on Facebook and other social media sites. We also know that it can be difficult to identify people accurately on the internet and social media. So, whenever we are searching in this way, we will not reveal the name of the study in case the person we contact isn’t one of our study members.
It would be very helpful (as well as saving us time!) if you could contact us to let us know where you have moved to. This is simple to do. All you have do is either call us via the Freephone telephone number (0800 0355 761) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have recently taken part in a survey you can also return the Change of Address card which was left by your interviewer. Your call and/or email will be treated in the strictest confidence.
If you move abroad please let us know your new contact details, including your address, telephone number and email address so that we can keep in touch and send you letters and updates.
You can contact us with these details by Freephone (0800 0355 761), or by email (email@example.com). Your call and/or email will be treated in the strictest confidence.
It is not usually possible for study members living abroad to take part in the surveys. However, you can re-join the study and be included in the next round of interviews if and when you return to Great Britain.
In the future, it may be possible for study members living abroad to conduct the survey remotely through web or telephone interviews.
We hold your personal details (your name, full address, telephone numbers, email addresses, etc.) in a secure and restricted administrative database, to which only a small number of authorised staff have access. We use your personal details so that we can keep in touch with you, for instance to send you information on how the data you provide to us in the survey is being used by researchers, and so that we can contact you during each survey.
The mailings that you receive from us for keeping in touch are printed and sent to you by an external mailing company, Copyprint UK. We send them your contact details securely, using an encrypted online portal, to enable them to send out mailings to you.
We use the MailChimp platform to send you emails. To do this we need to share your email address with MailChimp.
The surveys that you take part in every few years are collected by external organisations contracted by us. NatCen Social Research and Kantar are the independent research organisations that have been contracted to carry out the Age 50 Survey, on behalf of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies at University College London. We send them your contact details securely, using an encrypted online portal, to enable them to approach you to take part. Once the survey has been completed, they return us your responses securely, also using an encrypted online portal.
When we receive your survey responses, your information is split into two parts for storage at CLS. Your personal details are removed from the survey responses that you provide. Your survey responses are held on a separate secure research database, which do not contain any personal details, and are held together with the survey responses from thousands of other participants. This research data is then deposited with the UK Data Service, which is located in the University of Essex. The data made available at the UK Data Service do not contain any personal details that would enable you to be identified at individual level. They are made available to academic researchers who must register with the Data Service and must work under a strict licence agreement.
The personal information you provide us will not be used to make any decisions (automated or otherwise) which could affect you in any way – it will only be used for research purposes.
We only share your personal data with those external organisations who carry out our surveys, or send you mailings between each survey. NatCen Social Research and Kantar are the independent research organisations that have been contracted to carry out the Age 50 Survey, on behalf of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies at University College London. Copyprint UK carry out the mailings between each survey. These external organisations are contractually bound to UCL to keep your data safe and secure, and are accredited to data security standards. We also share your email addresses with MailChimp, in order to send you emails. For more information about how MailChimp processes data please see MailChimp’s privacy notice. Between major surveys, we may carry out short online surveys using Qualtrics, an online survey platform. Qualtrics is accredited to data security standards and is compliant with data protection legislation.
Between major surveys, we may carry out short online surveys using Qualtrics, an online survey platform. Qualtrics is accredited to data security standards and is compliant with data protection legislation.
We go to great lengths to maintain your privacy. We respect that you have voluntarily given information to us on the basis that we protect your rights. We keep any information which could identify you in a secure location.
At the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, the study data is managed by two different teams, all of whom have signed strict confidentiality contracts and can only access this information for limited purposes. One team deals with your personal contact information to make sure we are able to stay in touch with you. The other manages all the other information you provide in the survey. Neither team has access to both.
The organisations which carry out the surveys are also contractually bound by very strict confidentiality and data security agreements.
Between major surveys, we may carry out short online surveys using Qualtrics, an online survey platform. Qualtrics is accredited to data security standards and is compliant with data protection legislation.
The collected survey responses are made available to the research community at the UK Data Service. These research data do not contain any personal details that are identifiable at individual level and are only made available to researchers who register with the Data Service, who must work under a strict licence agreement. No-one using the data will know who the information has come from, or who is in the study.
The purpose of the 1970 British Cohort study is to understand the whole picture – of your lives individually, and of your generation as a whole. The aim is to follow your whole life’s journey. For this reason, we have not set a time limit for how long we will keep your data. This applies to both data collected in the surveys and any data linked in to your survey data. It is very important for us to keep your data safe.
Under data protection legislation you can get a copy of the information you gave to the surveys. Everyone has the right to access any personal data that is being kept about them. You can do this by making what is known as a subject access request. You should send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Additionally, you can download the study data from UK Data Service by registering and signing the special confidentiality contract. However, unless you are a professional researcher the data may be difficult to understand as they are in a complex format. And you won’t be able to identify yourself as the data are de-identified.
The vast majority of your contact details are not transferred outside the European Economic Area (EEA), to ensure that they are protected by the strong EEA data protection laws. The exception to this is your email address, which we share with MailChimp in order to send you emails. MailChimp is based in the USA.
You have the right at any time to withdraw from the study. Information which the study has already collected about you in the past will be retained. You will not be invited to part in any future surveys and we will not contact you for any other reason. We will keep your contact details as a historic record that you were once a member of the study.
If you wish to withdraw from the study you can let us know in various ways:
Call: 0800 0355 761
Post: FREEPOST RTCX-HBGC-CJSK, 1970 British Cohort Study, UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London, WC1H 0AL
There are lots of researchers who analyse the data from BCS70 every year. Anyone using the data needs to sign a special confidentiality contract that states that they will only use it for research.
The General Data Protection Regulation – https://www.eugdpr.org/, sets out our duties and responsibilities when we process and use your personal data. GDPR was approved by the European Parliament on 14th April 2016 and came into force on 25th May 2018. Because the GDPR is a regulation, it is directly binding and applicable. The new Data Protection Bill (2018) brings the GDPR into British law, and is part of the Data Protection Act 2018.
The 1970 British Cohort Study collects personal data from you, so it needs to be compliant with GDPR, which sets out the duties and responsibilities we have to you, and your rights regarding the personal data that we hold and process.
The study is managed by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS), which resides at University College London (UCL). UCL is the ‘Data Controller’ for this study. We contract with different external organisations who carry out our surveys on our behalf. These organisations act as ‘Data Processors’. For the current Age 50 Survey, the fieldwork is contracted to NatCen Social Research and Kantar. The postal mailings we send to you between each survey are contracted to Copyprint UK, who also act as a data processor.
The study is funded mainly by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The aim of the study is to generate data for research purposes and its funders and UCL are Public Authorities/ Bodies – this is regarded as a ‘Task in the Public Interest’ under GDPR – and is the lawful basis on which we are permitted to process your personal data.
In addition, we comply with all the relevant legislation on protection of confidentiality. We have received externally certified accreditation to the NHS Digital Information Governance Toolkit standard, which allows us to hold data from the NHS, and which also provides you with assurance that your data is secured and protected in the strongest possible manner.
The 1970 British Cohort Study is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The aim of the study is to generate data for research purposes and its funders and UCL are Public Authorities/Bodies – this is regarded as a ‘Task in the Public Interest’ under GDPR – and is the lawful basis on which we are permitted to process your personal data.
University College London is the Data Controller and is committed to protecting the rights of individuals in line with the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
If you want to request further information about our privacy notice you may contact the University College London Data Protection Officer through email@example.com
If you wish to raise a complaint or a cause for concern in relation to the study you can get in contact with us in a range of ways:
Call: 0800 0355 761
Post: FREEPOST RTCX-HBGC-CJSK, 1970 British Cohort Study, UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London, WC1H 0AL
If you are concerned about how your personal data is being processed, you can contact the UCL Data Protection Office at: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you remain unsatisfied, you may wish to contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Contact details, and details of data subject rights, are available on the ICO website: https://ico.org.uk/
We ask you to give us contact details for your partner (if you have one) and someone who you don’t live with (e.g. a relative, a neighbour, a friend) so that we can get in touch with them if we are unable to contact you directly e.g. if you’ve moved house. We refer to these people as ‘Stable Contacts’ and we only hold the contact details of these other people for that purpose – and this is the only reason we would contact them. You should let them know that you have given their details to us.
Our surveys often include questions about your partner, parents, children and other people who you may live with. This is important because family circumstances have a huge impact on people’s lives. We ask for some personal information relating to family members including names. This is so that in later surveys we can refer back to them and ask if their circumstances have changed. However, whilst no personal information relating to your family members is included in the data made available to researchers, you should let these family members know that you have given their details to us.
We also ask for your partner’s contact details so that we can get in touch with them if we are unable to contact you directly e.g. if you’ve moved house. We only hold your partner’s contact details for that purpose – and this is the only reason we would contact them. You should let them know that you have given their details to us.
Government departments and agencies hold information about people which they use for routine administrative purposes. From time to time, we add information from these routine administrative records to the information you have given us as part of the study. We only do this if we have permission from you.
As part of the Age 42 Survey in 2012, we asked you for your permission to add information from health records held by the NHS and economic records held by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to the information you have given us in our surveys over the years. If you lived with a partner at this time we also asked them for permission to add information from their records.
As part of the Age 50 Survey, if you had not previously given your permission, we will ask your permission again. If you live with a partner who has not previously given permission, we will also ask their permission to add information from their records.
We also add information that is not about you individually, but is about, for example, the school you went to or the area you live in. At no point will your personal details, such as your name or address, be included in the data made available to researchers. This means it is not possible to identify who is in the study.
Watch our video to find out more about adding other information.
National Health Service (NHS) records
The NHS maintains information on all patients accessing health services through routine medical and other health-related records. These records are held within statistical health databases which record information about:
Why is this information useful?
We collect information about your health in the interview but this information is fairly limited in scope. The information recorded in your medical records is objective and based on confirmed diagnoses by medical professionals. However, medical records may not be entirely complete as they will not include details about problems which have not been reported to a doctor.
Combining information from the interview with information from your health records would give us a more complete picture of your health.
This information will allow researchers to answer questions such as:
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) records
The DWP keeps records of everybody’s benefit claims and any periods people spend on employment programmes.
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) records
HMRC keep records of everybody’s employment, earnings, tax credits and occupational pensions (since 1998) and National Insurance Contributions since the early 1970s.
Why is this information useful?
For many years we have been collecting information on your economic circumstances. The information you have provided has allowed researchers to examine a whole range of issues like the financial benefits of education and training, as well as the importance of early childhood circumstances on adult income and social mobility (the extent to which people’s social class or economic status changes between childhood and adulthood).
Over the years, collecting information about sources of income has become increasingly complex, particularly since the widespread introduction of in work benefits and tax credits and changes in eligibility to different benefits and welfare to work programs.
It is very difficult to collect sufficiently detailed information about tax credits and benefits, but these are increasingly a very important source of income for a lot of families – particularly since the economic downturn.
We are therefore asking for your permission to gain access to the economic administrative data held about you by HMRC and DWP. This includes information about any tax credits that you receive, your National Insurance contributions (critical to working out pension entitlement), your earnings (which are used to work out entitlement to things like Child Benefit, Student grants and loans for your children and child tax credits), benefits that you receive as well as information about participation in DWP programmes, such as the New Deal.
This would allow researchers to look at important questions that have previously not been tackled in these troubled economic times including:
You do not have to give your permission. If you do not give your permission, you can still continue taking part in the study.
You can withdraw permission at any time for your NHS, DWP or HMRC records to be added to your study answers.
This can be done by writing to FREEPOST RTCX-HBGC-CJSK, 1970 British Cohort Study, UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way London, WC1H 0AL.
Information added from routine health records
In the Age 42 survey, we asked you (or your partner – if you had one) if we could add to the survey data, some information held by the National Health Service (NHS) about your health, such as visits to the doctor, nurse or midwife, hospital attendance or admission and the dates of these visits, health diagnoses or conditions, medicines, surgical procedures or other treatments you have received.
We are now starting to get some information about your health. For example, for those of you in England and Scotland, we have already added some information from your hospital records. We have not yet collected this information for study members in Wales. Neither have we added this information for your partner (if relevant).
These records, combined with the information you have given us during the surveys, will allow researchers to look in greater detail at what affects your health. They will be able to analyse what factors prevent or contribute to poor health, and how health conditions can be treated or managed more effectively.
Information added from routine economic records
In the Age 42 survey we also asked if we could add to the survey data information held about you (or your partner – if you had one) by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), such as benefit claims and periods on employment programmes. We also asked for consent to add information held by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), about employment, earnings, tax credits and occupational pensions, and National Insurance Contributions.
We are now in the process of adding this information from your records. We have not yet collected this information for your partner (if relevant), but we are intending to add information from their records in the near future.
Any permission you give will remain valid for the duration of the study and we will collect these records on an ongoing basis unless you tell us to stop. You can withdraw your permission to add information from NHS, DWP, or HMRC records at any time, without having to give a reason. This can be done by writing to: Freepost RTCX-HBGC-CJSK, 1970 British Cohort Study, Centre for Longitudinal Studies, UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way London WC1H 0AL. Your decision whether or not to allow us to add information from your records will not affect your health treatment or any health insurance. It will not affect your benefits, tax or pension. Neither will it affect your future participation in the study.
The linked health and survey data will be made available to researchers and policy makers via the UK Data Service for research purposes only. Researchers will only be given permission to use the data after successful application to ensure that the information will be used responsibly and safely, presents a strong scientific case and explains the potential impact of the research and its wider value to society.
Your name, addresses, National Insurance number and NHS number are never included in any data made available to researchers via the UK Data Service, which ensures that no individual can be identified from the data or the research findings. All information collected by and added to BCS70 is treated with the strictest confidence in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018.
Government departments and agencies will only receive the personal details they need to establish an accurate match to your records – such as name, address, date of birth, NI or NHS number – if available – nothing more. After your records have been identified, these details will be deleted. No information that you have given us during the study will be added to your administrative records.
As part of the Age 50 Survey, we will only ask about permission(s), which you have not previously given.
The permissions you (or your partner – if you have one) give now will supplement the permissions you gave at the Age 50 Survey. Any permissions given previously will remain valid unless they are withdrawn.
If you want to see the information held about you by any of the data holding government departments or agencies, you need to enquire directly with the individual organisations. We would be happy to provide you contact details for doing so.
The circumstances of those around you have a big effect on you. If, for example, your partner were to become seriously ill, or were to experience a prolonged period of unemployment, this could clearly have a hugely significant impact on your life. We are only able to collect a very limited amount of information about your partner when we interview you, so adding their records will give us a much better understanding of your family circumstances.
The information from your partner’s records is very important for us as this will give us a much better understanding of your family and household circumstances. This is, however, your partner’s personal decision.
If they are not available, when the interviewer visits, we will leave them an envelope, including a letter and an information booklet which explain the ‘adding other information’ request and what happens if your partner decides to give their permission. The letter will have a login code and web address for your partner to complete an online consent form.
The information we would like to add relates to your past, present and future circumstances. We have not put an end date on the permissions that you give as we do not know exactly when we will add this information. Any permission you give for adding administrative data to the information we collect as part of the study will remain valid, and we will collect these records on an ongoing basis – unless you tell us to stop. As our aim is to follow your whole life’s journey, we have not set a time limit for how long we will keep your records.
Social research is research conducted by social scientists, such as anthropologists, economists, psychologists and sociologists. It aims to understand human behaviour, mental processes, and how people interact in society. In quantitative social research, researchers apply different statistical methods to data in order to do this. The objective of their research is to understand how and why people fare differently in life, and therefore how policies can be designed to help improve the lives of some.
Survey research involves collecting information from a sample of individuals through their answers to questions. Surveys are used in lots of parts of our society, for example by retail companies to understand shoppers’ preferences, in polls to reveal people’s voting intentions, and in studies such as BCS70. Surveys are carried out in different ways – including face-to-face or over the telephone with an interviewer, or on the internet by self-completion.
A birth cohort study follows a group of people that were born at a similar date or period of time – be it a day, month, year or decade, for instance. It follows these people throughout their lives, and collects information from them at particular ages. By following the same people over time, these studies are able to tell us how and why people change as they get older. BCS70 is a cohort study following people born in one week in 1970.
Our society is changing fast. Findings from birth cohort studies are used to chart and understand how society has changed over the years, and how life experiences are different for each generation. They help understand the impact of societal trends such as our ageing population and the growth in lone-parent and step-families, and changes such as growing employment insecurity.
Cohort studies help understand that change. Evidence from cohort studies have contributed to many policy decisions in diverse areas – such as increasing the duration of maternity leave, raising the school leaving age, updating breast feeding advice given to parents.