Work and Pensions written question – answered on 20th June 2005.

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Photo of David Laws David Laws Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in the UK were living in absolute poverty during the latest period for which figures are available, broken down by (a) pensioners, (b) unemployed, (c) disabled and (d) others; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Margaret Hodge Margaret Hodge Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions) (Work)

Poverty is about more than low income, it is also about health, housing and the quality of environment.

Specific information regarding low income for the United Kingdom is available in 'Households Below Average Income 1994–95—2003–04'. The threshold of below 60 per cent. contemporary median income is the most commonly used in reporting trends in low income.

The information is in the following table.

The number of individuals living in households with income less than the 60 per cent. of 1996–97 (GB) median income held constant in real terms, in 1996–97 and 2003–04
Great Britain 1996–97 Great Britain 2003–04 United Kingdom 2003–04
Before housing costs
Pensioners 2,200,000 1,100,000 1,200,000
In an unemployed family 1,800,000 700,000 700,000
In a family with at least one disabled adult 2,900,000 1,800,000 1,800,000
Others 4,600,000 2,800,000 2,800,000
After housing costs
Pensioners 2,800,000 900,000 900,000
In an unemployed family 2,200,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
In a family with at least one disabled adult 3,900,000 2,200,000 2,200,000
Others 6,500,000 4,100,000 4,200,000


1.Rows presented in the table are not mutually exclusive, for example an individual could be a pensioner and disabled.

2.'Unemployed' describes a workless family where either the head, or spouse, is looking for work.

3.Disability is defined in line with the Disability Discrimination Act.

4.Figures are rounded to the nearest 100,000.

5.Figures in the first two columns are for Great Britain and figures in the third column are for the United Kingdom.

6.1996–97 figures are provided for comparison on a GB level along with consistent estimates for 2003–04. UK data for 1996–97 are not available as the Family Resources Survey was only extended to cover Northern Ireland in April 2002.


Family Resources Survey (FRS), 2003–04

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