Pensioner Poverty

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 9th February 2005.

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Photo of Chris Ruane Chris Ruane PPS (Rt Hon Peter Hain, Lord Privy Seal), Leader of the House of Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what percentage of pensioners were living below the poverty line in each of the last 30 years.

Photo of Malcolm Wicks Malcolm Wicks Minister for pensions, Department for Work and Pensions

Poverty is about more than low income; it also impacts on the way people live—their health, housing and the quality of their environment. The sixth annual Opportunity for all" report (Cm 6239), published in September 2004, sets out the Government's strategy for tackling poverty and social exclusion and presents information on the indicators used to measure progress against this strategy.

Specific information regarding low income for the United Kingdom is available in Households Below Average Income 1994–95 to 2002–03. These publications are available in the Library.

The following table sets out available information on the percentage and number of pensioners living in households with income less than 60 per cent. of median (before and after housing costs). As the IPS has noted, pensioners

are no longer any more likely to be poor than non-pensioners, measuring incomes after housing costs."

Before housing costs After housing costs
Number (million) Percentage Number (million) Percentage
Based on the Family Expenditure Survey (FES)
1979 2.5 28 2.6 28
1981 1.5 16 1.9 20
1987 2.4 24 2.7 27
1988–89 3.3 33 3.8 39
1990–91 3.3 32 3.6 36
1991–92 2.9 28 3.3 32
1992–93 2.5 24 3.0 29
1993–94 2.2 22 2.8 27
1994–95 2.1 21 2.7 27
1995–96 2.2 21 2.8 28
Based on the Family Resources Survey (FRS)
1994–95 2.1 21 2.7 27
1995–96 2.2 22 2.5 25
1996–97 2.1 21 2.7 27
1997–98 2.2 22 2.7 27
1998–99 2.3 23 2.7 27
1999–2000 2.2 22 2.5 25
2000–01 2.1 21 2.4 24
2001–02 2.2 22 2.2 22
2002–03 2.1 21 2.2 21

Family Expenditure Survey (FES) figures are for the United Kingdom, Family Resources Survey (FRS) figures are for Great Britain. The reference period for FRS figures is single financial years. FES figures are single calendar years from 1979–87, two combined calendar years from 1998–89 to 1992–93 and two financial years combined from 1993–94 to 1995–96. Because of differences between the two surveys results are not strictly comparable.

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