Frequently Asked Questions


      POPGROUP is a family of software developed to forecast population, households and the labour force for areas and social groups


How do I order POPGROUP?

     Orders for either software or manuals should be sent to:

      Margaret Martin

      Centre and Graduate Administrator
      The Centre for Census and Survey Research (CCSR),
      Ground Floor, Humanities Bridgeford Street
      University of Manchester
      Oxford Road
      Manchester   M13 9PL

To enquire about orders, telephone Margaret on +44 (0) 161-275-4721 or email:


How much does the software cost?

      Each module: POPGROUP, HOUSEGROUP and LABGROUP cost £1,000 +VAT for the first module, and £500+VAT for each further module


What do I get when I buy POPGROUP?

      Each module includes:

      Full reference manual, on-screen notes, and user manual with worked examples.
      Telephone support for twelve months.
      Email discussion list and independent user group.
      Maintenance: free updates; quick resolution of any program faults


Who owns POPGROUP?

     POPGROUP has been financially supported by six Local Authorities: Shropshire, Worcestershire, Bradford , Derbyshire, Buckinghamshire and Staffordshire, and by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). POPGROUP has a steering group involving those organisations who oversee its non-profit making annual budget. It is fully owned by the University of Manchester.


Is there an annual maintenance fee or a charge for upgrades?

      No, the initial costs cover the full cost of the module and also includes free updates


If there is no maintenance fee how are upgrades funded and software supported?

      The costs of maintaining and upgrading the software are met from sales of the software and financial support has also been provided by six Local Authorities: Shropshire, Worcestershire, Bradford , Derbyshire, Buckinghamshire and Staffordshire, and by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)


How often is the software upgraded?

      Several upgrades of the software have already been released, future upgrades will be agreed in consultation with users. Previous User Consultation Surveys have been used to identify areas where users feel improvements could be made to the software and suggestions from users for enhancements are always welcome


Are manuals available for POPGROUP?

      Yes, each module includes a full reference manual, on screen notes and user manual with worked examples


Is it possible to download a demonstration program or order a trial version so I can see how the model works

  before I buy it?

      Yes, demonstration versions of each module can be downloaded from the website:

      These can be used to prepare, run and interrogate population forecasts for Fluteshire

Who currently uses POPGROUP?

      There are currently over 70 users of POPGROUP who include local authorities, education establishments, natuional statistics agencies etc. A list of current users can be found here


Do I need any other software to run POPGROUP?

      Yes, the software requires users to have Microsoft EXCEL


What version of Excel does the model run on?

      The system was written using EXCEL 2000 software, Version 3 is not compatible in all its features with EXCEL 97, and versions of EXCEL from 2000 are recommended


What operating system is required?

      The system will be supported where users have a minimum of EXCEL 2000 running on Windows 98/ME/2000/XP


How easy is it to install?

      The software is supplied on CD and is simple to install, full installation instructions are supplied and included in the manuals


How much memory will it take/need to run?

      This will depend on the number of groups or areas that you decide to forecast in a model. Modern computers have no problem in running a forecast with 1 up to 30 groups


Will it slow my computer down?

     POPGROUP operates in Excel, so it will not affect your computer any more than any other Excel work that you do. The forecasts themselves usually take less than a minute to run, and so they will not interfere with other work.


Do I need to but a copy of POPGROUP for each computer that I want to install the software on?

     No you only need to but a single copy of the software which can either be installed and run via a network so making it accessible to multiple users or it can be installed on multiple computers within your organisation. Each organisation needs to order its own copy of POPGROUP.


How is POPGROUP licensed?

     Each organisation orders its own copy of POPGROUP. With the software is a letter authorising use of POPGROUP within that organisation.


Is technical support available?

     Yes, technical support is available from:

          Ludi Simpson , (+44 (0)161-275-4975) Susan Lomax (+44 (0)161-275-0277)

          John Andelin , (+44 (0)1274-225750).


I have a suggestion for a possible revision to POPGROUP, who should I contact?

      The POPGROUP administrators are always willing to listen to users ideas on how the software could be improved and any suggestions should be sent to:

          Ludi Simpson


Is training available for POPGROUP/HOUSEGROUP/LABGROUP?

      Training courses are run at CCSR and it is also possible for training to be arranged at alternative venues if necessary.

      Details of training courses currently planned can be found here.


How do I know if new data is available for input to POPGROUP?

      A POPGROUP Discussion Group exists, individuals can join this Discussion group by registering here.

      News is circulated to all members of the Discussion group including details of the availability of new data for input to POPGROUP.

What forms of user support are available?

      Various forms of user support exist, these include:

          a.      POPGROUP website

          b.      POPGROUP Discussion Group

          c.      POPGROUP User Group which meets on a regular basis

      Users may also contact staff employed by POPGROUP and CCSR if they are experiencing any technical problems or require advice.

How can I keep up-to-date on what is happening with POPGROUP?

     The POPGROUP website is constantly being updated to provide ongoing support for users. It aims to provide up-to-date details on all aspects of the software including up-to-date information on data available for input to the model. News on upgrades, User Meetings, new data availability etc. is also circulated to users registered with the Discussion Group.

What is the User Group?

     All users are automatically included in the User Group. Meetings of the User Group are regularly arranged to discuss developments in the software, new data availability, users' current work areas etc. The meetings are an excellent forum for users to network with other users and to improve their knowledge on how the model can be used and how to develop their own population forecasts etc.

How often does the User Group meet?

      The User group usually meets at least once a year, recent meetings have been held at CCSR at the University of Manchester. details of meetings are circulated to all members of the Discussion group and are posted on the User group page of the website. Minutes of previous User Group Meetings are also available via this page.

What is the Steering Group?

      The Steering Group monitors the running of POPGROUP including the finance and taking the final decisions on model development. The Steering Group includes representatives from CCSR and the six local authorities that initially financed the software:  Shropshire, Worcestershire, Bradford, Derbyshire, Buckinghamshire and Staffardshire.

Can I compare different sets of forecasts?

     Yes. Use the comparison summ skeleton workbook to compare the results from different forecasts.

Can I copy data output to other documents?

     Because the software is written in Excel all results are output to Excel workbooks and so output can be easily copied to other documents.

What format are the output forecasts in?

      The output forecasts are all in Excel format and are displayed in various tabular and graphical formats, feature such as flying pyramids are also used to display the forecast results.

What area levels/groups can forecasts be produced for?

      Forecasts can be run for any user defined area levels/groups as required. Current users have run forecasts for counties, districts, wards, Welsh LA areas, sub-regional areas, National Park areas, ethnic groups etc.

How many area levels/groups can be specified?

     POPGROUP enables users to specify up to 40 area levels/groups

Does the model come pre-loaded with any base data?

      No the model does not currently come pre-loaded with any data but it may be possible for CCSR to help with the initial setting up of your model. For further informations please contact:


             Margaret Martin

             Centre and Graduate Administrator
             The Centre for Census and Survey Research (CCSR),
             Ground Floor, Humanities Bridgeford Street
             University of Manchester
             Oxford Road
             M13 9PL

       Telephone Margaret on +44 (0) 161-275-4721 or email:

Where do I get data to input to the model?

       Various standard datasets are available from UK statistics agencies in POPGROUP format, these can be easily read into the model. Please refer to other pages of this website for details of specific datasets available from ONS and for how to order these datasets by clicking here. Users can also easily input their own data to the model.

Is there a charge for data from ONS in POPGROUP format?

     ONS currently make various POPGROUP datasets available to users for no extra charge.

If data is provided by ONS is it still possible to use the model for Wales/other countries?

      Yes, as the model is Excel based any user data can be easily added to the model.

Is POPGROUP the best type of software available for the job?

      Since POPGROUP was first developed itís use has been expanding and it is now used by over 70 organisations. Results from a recent User Survey showed that organisations generally found the software easier to use than other forecasting software they had experience of using. Users particularly liked the fact the software was Excel based, making it familiar to them.

How easy is it to use POPGROUP?

       Users were recently asked in a User Survey how easy they had found the software to use, most users stated that they had found the software either very easy or fairly easy to use.

Can I use HOUSEGROUP or LABGROUPwithout POPGROUP forecasts?


How many years ahead will the models forecasts?

     The model will forecast for 50 years from the base year.

Is it possible to supply the software complete with data and forecasts?

     Yes CCSR can provide this service, for details please click here

Can CCSR provide a set of forecasts in POPGROUP format?

      Yes CCSR can provide this service, for details please click here

Is there a means of comparing the results of several population forecasts produced by POPGROUP?
     Yes, POPGROUP provides a very useful spreadsheet called 'comparison_summ.xls' which automatically produces graphs and reports for comparing selected forecasts

What are the benefits of using pivot tables in POPGROUP?
    Pivot tables are a powerful tool, enabling POPGROUP users to summarise large datasheets in ways that would not otherwise be possible. They are very useful when reporting on POPGROUP forecasts, when it is not possible to get the output you need from the POPGROUP's reporting software

Why should care be taken in the dates applied to different datasets used in Popgroup particularly in relation to migration data?
(see page 23, para4 of the Popgroup User Guide)

Why is it crucial to include notes in the POPGROUP files to document what you have done?
     Due to the ease of using POPGROUP it is quite easy to find yourself with hundreds of varying forecasts based on different assumptions you are testing. If notes are not included and file naming conventions not decided upon at an early stage then it can lead to chaos, duplication of work and a lot of time wasted.