The Cabinet Office will interview thousands of people in England as part of Community Life, a new survey of volunteering, charitable giving, local action, networks and wellbeing.
A contract will be awarded next month and the work is expected to begin in the autumn, according to a Cabinet Office spokeswoman. It will involve face-to-face interviews with a representative sample of between 2,000 and 3,000 adults every three months.
The spokeswoman said the questionnaire for the survey had not yet been finalised, but it would cover topics such as formal and informal volunteering, giving to charity, levels of trust in communities and the extent of community action and collaboration.
She said it would ask how strongly people felt they belonged to their local communities and whether they felt able to influence local decisions; and it would seek to measure people's wellbeing through their levels of happiness, anxiety and satisfaction.
"We are commissioning this new survey to track the latest trends and developments in social action and social capital," the spokeswoman said. "The new data will be invaluable to government as we shape and drive policy in these areas, in addition to ensuring that people have access to full information to support and develop action in local communities."
The results are expected to be reported on a quarterly basis, with the first ones expected late this year. The Cabinet Office said it would explore cost-effective ways to carry out the survey again in 2013/14 and 2014/15.