Work and Pensions written question – answered on 20th March 2006.

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Photo of Danny Alexander Danny Alexander Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of children in families with (a) a lone parent, (b) married parents or step-parents and (c) cohabiting parents or step-parents are in poverty; and what research he has conducted on the equivalent figures in other (i) EU and (ii) G8 countries.

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

Specific information on children living in low income households in Great Britain by family type is available in the latest publication of the Households Below Average Income 1994–95 to 2004–05". The threshold of below 60 per cent. contemporary median income is the most commonly used in reporting trends in low income.

The data requested is in the table.

Proportion of children by family type living in households with income less than 60 per cent. of contemporary median income, Great Britain, 2004–05
Before housing costs After housing costs
Lone parent 39 43
Married parents or married step-parents 15 19
Co-habiting parents or co-habiting step-parents 23 29


Family Resources Survey

The Department for Work and Pensions provides low-income figures for lone parent and couple families in the UK to the EU. The Department has not carried out specific research on equivalent figures for EU or G8 countries.

International comparisons are important because the Government aspire to be among the very best performers in Europe on child poverty, competing with the record of countries such as Sweden and Denmark. A focus on income before housing costs; as adopted in our Spending Review 2004 target; supports this, as this is used across other European Union countries.

Measuring child poverty", published in December 2003, compares findings with our European Union counterparts. It showed that the UK had the highest child poverty rate in Europe in 1999 (29 per cent.) but, according to latest data for 2003, we are now closer to the EU average (23 per cent.). European comparisons are made using data from the European Household Panel Study, and are not comparable with figures using the Family Resources Survey. Data from 2003 remains the most up to date as this was the last year that data was produced for the UK using this dataset. UK comparisons across Europe will be measured using the European Union Survey of Income and Living Conditions (EUSILC) from autumn 2005.

While we have not made comparisons across the G8 countries, Child Poverty in Rich Nations 2005", a UNICEF report on child poverty highlights the progress we have started to make in halving child poverty by 2010 and eliminating it by 2020. The report also showed that the UK has made more progress on reducing child poverty than any other country in the OECD in the years from 1991 to 2000.

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